Grapes Make Local Beer; Engage the Local Populace

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Bottles of craft beer made with grapes

An initiative to develop a local delicacy for the town of Higashiura, Aichi Prefecture, has resulted in a craft beer made from grapes that has proven so popular, production tripled in the second year.

The limited-edition beer is made with kyoho grapes, a local specialty. Sold directly from the producers and in Higashiura’s supermarkets, a 330-milliliter bottle costs ¥550, including tax.

Last year, 4,000 bottles were produced. The beer quickly became a tipple of choice and sold out. This year, the group behind the beverage will make three batches and a total of 12,000 bottles, which requires a total of about 100 kilograms of grapes.

The pruning of grape vines to thin them out during the cultivation process has provided employment in the town. Users of a welfare facility for people with disabilities picked the grapes from two farms in Higashiura, as the project aimed to also boost the income of these people. Anjo Den Beer Inc., a brewery in Anjo in the prefecture, is in charge of the brewing stage. Using an English malt this year has resulted in beer with a better head and slightly bitter taste.

Officials involved in the beer’s production and sale attended an event to show off the finished product at the town hall on Sept. 27. Along with the beer, which has a good nose, attendees were given samples of the sour and bitter squeezed juice of the thinned grapes. Some were unable to contain their surprise at the juice’s taste, with the head of the town’s commerce and industry society, asking, “Will this really become a tasty beer?”

Anjo Den Beer President Noburu Ishikawa said, “We were able to make this beer because everybody helped in the project and the agriculture and welfare sectors worked together. I want to make the most of this opportunity.”