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Microbrewery makes a comeback after tsunami - Hanamaki, Miyagi 2013-10-17

For the longest time only four major beer brands - Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo and Suntory – controlled the manufacture of Japanese beer.  These were all that you could order until the industry was deregulated in the 1990s, allowing small and medium sized breweries to enter the market. And with the continued evolution of people’s palates, more and more sake brewers have been trying their hand at craft beer brewing.

Yume Hanamaki Biru Jyozosho is a microbrewery in Miyagi Prefecture that re-opened for business just this past September. It is the reincarnation of a brewery in Watari, Miyagi that was swept away by the March 2011 tsunami. The pre-tsunami brewery was built in 1997. It became well known as a producer of fruit beers and took home the gold medal for its refreshing strawberry beer at the 2005 International Beer Summit in Osaka. The Yume Hanamaki brewery of today maintains that reputation through its signature apple and grape beers - which are made using real fruit extracts. The brewery also serves a lager and a light ale.

Yume Hanamaki has done more than just rebound from the destruction wrought by the earthquake and tsunami. On October 16th, it was reported by Iwate Nippon News that Yume Hanamaki was named “Brewery of the Year” by the Japan Craft Beer Association (JCBA). Founded in 1994 after the deregulation, JCBA promotes the development of beers both in Japan and abroad and hosts the Great Japan Beer Festival, Japan’s largest beer festival. The “Brewery of the Year” winners are selected from several divisions of small to medium sized breweries. Yume Hanamaki was selected as the winner within a division of 260 microbreweries that produce approximately 60 kl of beer per year. The brewery received high marks for overall production quality, business sustainability, and its contributions to the local community.

The brewery’s CEO told the press that he hopes the business will continue to grow, stating “we can’t stop here.”

Yume Hanamaki's success and perseverance in the face of adversity demonstrates some of the great effort being made towards recovery by small and local businesses in areas hard-hit by the earthquake and tsunami.