Baird Beer’s 60-hectoliter (about 50-barrel) brewery, orchard, hops yard, 20-tap tasting room, and future campground.
The grand opening celebration for the craft brewery’s new headquarters was on June 1, but the brewery has been roughly three years in planning, says Co-owner and Brewer Bryan Baird, who founded the company with his wife Sayuri Baird in 2000.
The vision was of “a beautiful, idyllic country brewery that celebrates the intimate connection between nature and beer,” says Baird. “We see our Baird Brewery Gardens Shuzenji grounds as a sort of [craft] beer paradise.”
For Baird Beer, the new craft brewery is a considerable size up. (It held the title of smallest licensed brewery in Japan, at 30-liter single-keg batches, when they first started brewing more than ten years ago at their brewery-pub called the Numazu Fishmarket Taproom.) But it is also the realization of a dream for a rural farmhouse-style brewery where they can grow grain, hops, and fruit for the beer, says Baird, including estate beers made with 100 percent locally produced ingredients.
Currently, they are growing Cascade, Shinshuwase, Fuggle, and Centennial hops and daidai, natsumikan, biwa, ume, ichijiku (fig), yuzu, and lemon trees, the fruits of which are used in seasonal brewing. As part of their Fruitful Life Series, for example, Japan Tart Ale is brewed with ume plums and Shizuoka Summer Mikan Ale features the local citrus natsumikan fruit. The brewery property used to be a campground, and they plan to reopen part of it as such for next summer, so visitors can enjoy the full overnight experience.
The opening of Baird Brewery Gardens Shuzenji draws attention to the emerging Japanese beer scene. Yet while there is a growing awareness of Japanese beer in East Asia and overseas, there are fewer breweries open in Japan now than when Baird opened in 2000, Baird says, and there is still too much mediocre beer holding the market back. In the coming years, he hopes Baird can play a role in growing and improving the East Asia craft beer market.
"Among other things, we want to play a lead role in the emergence and evolution of craft beer in East Asia. The next ten years will be very exciting for craft beer in East Asia.”
Baird Beer also operates four taprooms in Japan and is distributed all over Japan and in the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
Photo: ©Fumiaki Yamazaki