So we are in Matsumoto now, and , to my surprise this is a pretty good place for beer hunting. The Shiga Kogen brewery is not too far away, so it has some presence. The train station has a set of canned beers which turn out to be alternate names for some Yona Yona ales (Train stations surprisingly seem to have better than average access to good quality beer, which is odd) and Tobacco shops have a small, but interesting mix of craft beer.

What is exceptional however is oddly not the local beer available, but the Belgium selection. There is a local bar, right next to the train station called Ganesh (Shown above) This has a quite extraordinary amount of Belgium beers to fit in with its Belgium themed bar, and a smattering of USA, UK, etc. Now, for me, I was sticking to their rotation Shiga Kogen tap (a very tasty Buckwheat based beer which I have grabbed a bottle of for review), as the prices are a lot higher than I would pay in the UK. However considering the distance they had to travel, it is quite a treat for anyone in Japan where such beers are not as common. They also had a rotating guest tap but that was dry while we were there.

With less interesting beer, but a lot of character, there are bars tucked away with winding maze like alleys and cubbyholes inside. You get assigned a little alcove to perch in and order snacks and drinks by a phone next to the table. Very nice atmosphere which earned it the nickname “Ninja bar” for all the places to hide.

Finally, at the nearby Daio Wasabi Farm there was a Wasabi beer. Now, spoiler warning for the review, it was a tad crap, but what intrigues me is they didn’t list the brewery that made it. Now after a few discussions I think that it wasn’t a custom made brew, but a pre-existing beer they had just ditched wasabi in. Best guess would be Kirin Ichiban, but I’m not sure. If anyone knows any background on this beer, please let me know. Thanks.

Finally, in a touch of culture there was the Matsumoto black castle in the heart of the city, a great sight and with an excellent volunteer English speaking tour guide. A very pretty and informative tour, well worth a look in between beer hunting.

Next up: Kyoto!
Wasabi Beer