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A Pint for All: Craft Beer Promoting Inclusion and Sustainability

 

Craft beer remains a global phenomenon, and new Japanese breweries and establishments are appearing all the time. Many craft beer enterprises are giving back to their communities in significant ways, from creating quality brew within a framework of zero-waste philosophy that helps to revitalize the whole community (RISE & WIN Brewing Co. in Kamikatsu, Tokushima), providing opportunities for differently abled individuals to work and thrive in the people-focused craft beer industry (Nishijin Beer Project in Kyoto and Derailleur Brew Works in Osaka) and directly participating in reconstruction of their local environment after disaster (Black Tide Brewing in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture). Let’s explore these breweries off the beaten path and learn how they’re giving back.

 

RISE&WIN Brewing (KAMIKATZ): Zero-waste philosophy and community revival

 

Craft beer’s global popularity has become a powerful community-building tool throughout Japan, and RISE&WIN Brewing (often known as KAMIKATZ  beer) is a great example. Located in Kamikatsu, Tokushima Prefecture on Japan’s southern island of Shikoku, the brewery was born from a zero-waste municipality that was already garnering attention for its sustainability efforts.

 

 

The Kamikatsu Zero-waste Center began as an initiative to reduce waste and improve efficiency for the dwindling town population. Instead of garbage collection, local residents can dispose of their garbage free of charge at the center, which currently organizes the waste into 45 categories for recycling. Larger items and goods that are still usable are available for free in a flea market-style setup. The entire complex is shaped in the form of a question mark, asking people who visit, “Why?” in regard to their decisions that impact the environment.

 

Photo credit: HOTEL WHY

 

Compounding on the local success of the zero-waste center, the town of Kamikatsu founded a business that would encourage visitors and locals to also spend money here: RISE&WIN Brewing. The parent company that established the zero-waste center was originally involved in bacterial analysis, and this expertise has led to the creation of some bonafide tasty brews.

 

Photo credit: RISE&WIN Brewing

 

The brewery is located very close to the zero-waste center, and visitors have the chance to participate in the sustainability efforts there and stay in HOTEL WHY on the premises. Come to Tokushima for an escape from daily life, enjoy excellent beer and contribute to the area’s sustainability efforts—a fantastic global model for community-centric, eco-forward business development.

 

 

Nishijin Beer Project: Providing opportunities for differently abled individuals

 

Japanese businesses continue to actively (1) promote locally sourced, locally consumed products and (2) support differently abled individuals in social and economic settings. Nishijin Beer Project in Kyoto excels on both fronts. The brewery is focused on using local ingredients to give their brews a creative and interesting twist, and the company actively supports individuals on the autism spectrum.

 

Photo credit: Nishijin Beer Project

 

Intriguing brews made with local ingredients include Nakagawa Manma Beer, Miscellaneous Wheat and Muromachi Saison. The last of the three uses rice malt, a Kyoto specialty, which adds natural umami to the brew. While Nishijin is a small operation, they’ve remained resilient in recent years and continue to create inspired beer that gives back to the community.

 

Photo credit: Nishijin Beer Project

 

Through their partnerships with local farmers, students and non-profit organizations such as HEROES, Nishijin actively promotes “noufuku,” or the coupling of agriculture and welfare. An original term coined by the brewing team, “Well-beering,” celebrates diversity and the unique strengths of everyone involved in the company’s brewing efforts.

 

Photo credit: Nishijin Beer Project

 

Whenever you’re in Kyoto, stop by Nishijin Beer Project to support local industry and contribute to better lives for everyone involved.

 

Derailleur Brew Works: Beautiful brew grown from hardship

 

In the rough-and-tumble area of Nishinari, Osaka, the enterprise behind Derailleur Brew Works was originally conceived as a social support system in the form of a café and bar welcoming anyone and everyone. Today, the company that grew into Derailleur is making waves in the Japanese beer scene for their grassroots approach that inspires other microbreweries to focus on their community.

 

Photo credit: Derailleur Brew Works

 

Derailleur stands out for their commitment to supporting marginalized people affected by any factor, whether upbringing, lifestyle, socio-economic conditions, or otherwise. This home-grown, community-rooted approach, combined with truly amazing craft beer across the style spectrum and some of the most vibrant, artistic packaging on the market gives the brewery impactful brand presence.

 

Photo credit: Derailleur Brew Works

 

Despite their success, Derailleur continues to support lesser-known breweries through their tap room establishment, Umineko Stand. (Four locations: Osaka (two shops), Kyoto and Fukuoka.) Although each shop has a number of taps available, they’re almost 90% devoted to other small-batch breweries, a powerful sign of support for up-and-coming players on the Japanese scene. Derailleur also recently opened a smaller shop in Minoh, Osaka, a mecca for Japanese beer and hiking enthusiasts. It’s a perfect place for a post-trek pint that supports local business.

 

Black Tide Brewing: Helping Tohoku continue to thrive

 

“Fall seven times, get up eight.” This powerful idiom expresses Japan’s philosophy of resilience, and the northern Tohoku region has shown incredible resolve in the face of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami tragedy. As a poignant example, Black Tide Brewing was founded in the city of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture on the Sanriku Coast, a truly special natural landscape punctuated with jagged inlets and verdant green mountains.

 

Photo credit: Black Tide Brewing

 

An American PhD chemist with a passion for brewing, James Watney, moved to Kesennuma to pour his heart and soul into creating phenomenal beer that would help rebuild the city. As a rare commodity in the area, the craft beer offered by Black Tide, including attractive, modern package design, became a local phenomenon and also created buzz on a national scale.

 

Photo credit: Black Tide Brewing

 

A number of years later, Black Tide continues to expand on their tasty lineup and contribute to the local economy in Kesennuma. Beyond the financial impact, creating a brewery grounded in passion for the Tohoku region and giving back to the community has made a tangible difference here. As forward-thinking breweries continue to emerge in rural areas across Japan, they’ll be looking to Black Tide for inspiration in making a positive impact for everyone involved.

 

On your next trip to Japan, experience the country’s exciting craft beer scene and learn how many breweries are giving back to their communities and supporting the disadvantaged. A pint for one, a pint for all—kanpai!

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    About the author

    gaby_doman

    Author: Caleb DeMarais
    Profile: Caleb DeMarais hails from the USA but has called Japan home for nearly 15 years. Whether knee deep in Japanese onomatopoeia, dissecting traditional craftsmanship or trying his best at rakugo puns, a fascination with everything Japan inspires his work as a writer and translator.

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