[Feature] Zao Brewery & Crang Dining! Craft beer and local food
Now that regional craft beer made by microbreweries is attracting attention, seven breweries in Yamagata Prefecture are also producing beers full of individuality.
This time we will introduce one of them, the Zao Brewery.
It is attached to the beer restaurant Crang Dining and beer lovers from inside and outside the prefecture come enjoy the craft beers and original dishes that are unique in both taste and appearance.
◆ Zao Brewery
Aiming for Zao Onsen, whose name is known nationwide, if you drive for about 25 minutes along National Route 13 from the center of Yamagata City, you will see the red Otorii gate.
The dark blue building standing next to it is the Zao Brewery.
I was immediately welcomed by the staff when I entered the store.
The bright, cozy atmosphere is more like a café than a beer restaurant.
Combining the table seats and counter seats, the space can accommodate about 25 people.
◆ Japan's first! From pure white beer to cherry beer
About 90% of the main ingredient in beer is water.
The taste of water is directly related to the taste of beer.
This area is rich in good quality Zao spring water.
This water is used for brewing to make high-quality beer.
One of the appeals of craft beer is that it can be mixed with local agricultural products, and you can freely change the tastes depending on the type of hop.
Zao Brewery brews four types of craft beers that can only be made in this land and are full of Zao’s natural blessings.
This is a unique lineup that can only be tasted here!
(From left) YAMAGATA Sakuranbo ALE (FRUIT ALE), SNOW MONSTER (WHITE ALE), MATSUNOMORI ALE ~Re-fresh~ (PALE ALE), ZAO CLASSIC IPA (IPA) *4 types 330ml 600 yen each (tax included)
Each flavor and color
・MATSUNOMORI ALE ~Re-fresh~ [PALE ALE]
5% alcohol content
The green-labeled MATSUNOMORI ALE ~Re-fresh~ is a beer with a refreshing, refreshing, and mellow taste.
It is said that the name “Mori” was created in the image of the “pine” of the Aomori Todomatsu and the symbolic Otorii gate.
・SNOW MONSTER [WHITE ALE]
4% alcohol content
The most popular craft beer is the white label SNOW MONSTER.
It is a white beer that can only be drunk at Zao Brewery, which was developed with the image of Zao’s famous rime-covered trees called Snow Monsters.
The beer, which was completed through trial and error, is not only impressive in appearance, but also outstanding in quality.
・YAMAGATA Sakurambo ALE [FRUIT ALE]
YAMAGATA Sakurambo ALE, with its red label inspired by cherries, is a Yamagata-style beer with plenty of Yamagata-produced cherry juice added.
It’s fragrant and fruity light, so it’s recommended for people who don’t like the strong taste of beer .
4% alcohol content
・ZAO CLASSIC IPA [IPA]
A classic beer that many people buy for home use or as a souvenir.
The brown label ZAO CLASSIC IPA has the highest alcohol content among the four types and is made using a large amount of carefully selected hops.
The distinct bitterness and aroma make this beer a must-try for craft beer lovers.
7% alcohol content
◆ I want to make Zao's only beer in the world
The brewery was founded by Yasuhiro Kamiya, now its president, and Yosuke Sakamoto, the head brewer.
Two childhood friends, Zao is the hometown where they were born and raised.
(From left) Mr. Sakamoto, Mr. Kaiya
Zao is known for Zao Onsen, the hot spring resort which was opened more than 1900 years ago. It is a tourist destination that represents Yamagata Prefecture, known for its rime-covered trees called snow monsters, its ski slopes and the Okama crater lake.
Zao, which was full of such charm, has recently been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a sharp decline in the number of tourists.
Under such circumstances, we thought that there was something we could do because we lived in Zao, so we focused on craft beer, saying, “I want to create a specialty product that represents Zao and bring excitement from a new perspective.”
“Above all, we have the blessings of nature and good water here.
Since we are doing it at Zao, we wanted to make a beer that is particular about Zao” says Kamiya.
Mr. Sakamoto, who is in charge of brewing, visited a brewery in Tochigi and learned how to make beer from scratch under the guidance of a leading expert in the craft beer world.
After that, he trained at a brewery in Niigata and was finally able to stand on the starting line.
The work begins when the malt is added and stirred.
Bottle the freshly brewed beer. “How is it this time?” Head-to-head with beer! Mr. Sakamoto, who is responsible for all beer brewing by himself.
◆ Rediscover the value of Zao with one-of-a-kind beer
“Through beer, we want tourists to feel the wonders of Zao, and for locals to rediscover its goodness.”
“I want to challenge myself to make beer that people can enjoy the uniqueness of its taste. My dream is for people to make a toast with our beer!”
Nowadays, there are people who stop by on their way to and from Zao Onsen, as well as customers who come all the way from outside the prefecture.
It is attracting attention as a new spot where you can enjoy freshly brewed beer in rich nature.
On this day, I ran into a customer who came from Kansai with the intention of coming to Zao Brewery after learning about it on social media.
He travels around the country visiting craft beer places.
◆Cooking using vegetables grown in our own farm and local ingredients
At the attached restaurant Crang Dining, you can enjoy original dishes using fresh vegetables, rice and local branded meat carefully produced by the Zao Brewery Farm and other local farmers. You can enjoy it with freshly poured beer.
The rice used in the restaurant is all Haenuki rice grown in-house in Yamagata Prefecture.
As long as you can eat safe and secure rice that has been grown with a lot of time and effort.
◆ Four recommended items
・The most popular authentic Neapolitan Pizza
Funagata mushroom from Yamagata Prefecture and black truffle sauce pizza 1,480 yen (tax included)
In particular, the Yamagata Prefecture Funagata Mushroom and Black Truffle Sauce Pizza, which uses mushrooms grown in Funagata Town, has a rich truffle aroma and a strong taste that goes well with IPA.
Baked at around 500℃ for about 90 seconds, the dough is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
・ Zao Crang pizza with outstanding impact
Zao Crang pizza 1,480 yen (tax included)
Crang Dining’s specialty is its pizza inspired by Mt. Zao.
Plenty of locally harvested fresh vegetables on top of uncured ham.
It’s a pizza that you can enjoy like a salad.
Enjoy Zao with food by pairing with white beer!
・ Excellent compatibility with beer Zao beef roast beef
Zao beef roast beef 2 servings 1,580 yen (tax included)
Roast beef made from Zao Beef, a brand of cattle raised at the Zao Kogen Ranch.
The more you chew, the more juicy the flavor! The rich flavor of the meat and the sweetness of the elegant fat will fill your mouth.
・Assorted Zao cheeses
Zao cheese platter 980 yen (tax included)
An assortment of smoked cheese, gouda cheese, and camembert cheese.
The rich flavor of Zao cheese goes great with beer.
“Everything you eat in Yamagata is delicious!”
People who have visited Yamagata say in unison.
“We want to offer the taste of Yamagata, a treasure trove of food, in a Crang Dining style, so we have prepared a menu of local production for local consumption using seasonal ingredients.
There are also lunch menus and limited menus, so please enjoy pairing with beer.”
◆Enjoy a drink on the private beer terrace
At the rooftop terrace seats, you can enjoy freshly brewed beer in a completely private space.
Enjoying a beer while gazing at the vast nature in front of you is the best!
There are two plans available to use the terrace. If you order one drink, you are free to bring your own food for BBQ, etc. using the Complete bring-your-own-items plan, or you can pay 2,500 yen (tax included) / person for the Enjoy it empty-handed! Crang Plan which includes one drink and food. Choose according to your purpose!
*Terrace usage fee will be charged separately.
2 hours per group / 2,200 yen (tax included)
4 hours per group / 4,000 yen (tax included)
1 hour extension per group / 1,100 yen (tax included)
* Up to 5 people per group
*Terrace fee includes rental of BBQ stove, gas, tongs, table, chairs, and garbage bags.
*Both plans can be extended up to 1 hour
Rooftop terrace available time / 11:00~16:30
*Reservation required, so please make a reservation by phone two days in advance
◆ To the next stage
With the desire to pursue better beer brewing, Zao Brewery has a dream to offer special beer using hops grown in-house in the near future. It seems that we will continue to manufacture more and more.
While enjoying the time spent at Zao Brewery and craft beer, the staff are working hard every day to become an opportunity to discover the appeal of Zao.
Everyone, please try Zao’s unique beer in the world.
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