Craft Beer

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FOOD: Craft Beer

Think of propping up a bar in Japan and it’s second-to-none whisky, or sake steeped in local history, that spring to mind. But travel to Hokkaido, Japan’s chilly northern isle and you’ll discover a thriving craft beer scene, with an abundance of micro-breweries creating endless varieties of locally-made beers.

No trip to Hokkaido is complete without a taste of the prefecture’s best-loved drink, and where better to sample a few pints than Sapporo. Read on for a craft-beer tour of Hokkaido’s vibrant capital.

Often compared to Portland, the outdoorsy heart of America’s west coast, Sapporo is known for its laid-back atmosphere, rich food culture and thriving creative scene. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, in a city that feels so unlike any other in Japan, discovering welcoming brewpubs tucked away down icy backstreets makes perfect sense. Pulling punters in from the cold, here are three of Sapporo’s cosiest bars, each home to an impressive menu of Hokkaido beer.

Moon Sun Brewing

On the banks of the Sossei River, minutes’ walk from Nijo Market, Moon & Sun is one of Sapporo’s best brewpubs – serving a broad menu of craft beer brewed on-site. Laid-back and brightly lit, Moon Sun Brewing welcomes visitors in from the chilly streets, serving ten beers made in-house alongside a rotation of guest beers, selected by some of the city’s friendliest bar staff. Offering a comprehensive guide to the various merits of each beer, get a feel for what you like with a three or five-glass tasting set, served with a plate of Sun & Moon’s popular French fries, made using Hokkaido potatoes.

Moon Sun Brewing: 1 Chome-3 Minami 3 Johigashi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, 060-0053

Beer Cellar Sapporo

Open from midday till early evening, Beer Cellar Sapporo is the perfect pit-stop for those in search of a restorative pint whilst exploring the city. Answering a local demand for American craft beer, this city-centre taproom started out specialising in Oregon-brewed beers, before extending their menu to include a number of beers brewed closer to home. With an authentic west-coast feel, visitors have a choice of eight beers on-tap on any given day, though a flight-of-four tasting set is on-hand for those struggling to make up their mind.

Beer Cellar Sapporo: Sapporo 060-0061, 12 Chome Minami 1 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Minami 1 Jonishi, 12 Chome

Beer Bar North Island

A short walk from Odori station in central Sapporo, you’ll find Beer Bar North Island, tucked away on the tenth floor above a row of restaurants. Hosted by North Island Beer, brewed in nearby city Ebetsu, a regular line-up of six straight-from-the-barrel-beers are served alongside an ever-changing selection of seasonal and guest beers.  With delicious bar food, a cosy atmosphere and views over the city, Beer Bar North Island is the perfect place for those wanting sink a few locally-brewed pints in one of the city’s best loved bars. Make sure you try the house speciality – the fragrant Coriander Black.

Beer Bar North Island: 4-10-1 Minami 2jo Nishi, Chuo-Ku Large Country Bldg. 10F, Sapporo 060-0062

Images: Alex Rebbeck for ANA

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