It seems that every couple of months, a new brewery opens up in Japan riding the coat tails of the craft beer revolution. Yet Bay Brewing Yokohama was one of the first brewpubs to have come through the process with a reputation for great beer. That reputation came about because of Shinya Suzuki, the brew master of Bay Brewing Yokohama. Suzuki-san pushed Yokohama Beer forward and cemented their reputation for reputable craft beers, first as an assistant brewer before making the move to head brewer.
They may not have deviated or risked their future on IPAs, amber ales, and whatever beer was the flavour of the moment but Yokohama Beer had a brew master who knew the difference between a good beer and a great beer. Towards the end of his tenure, Suzuki-san did introduce some American style IPAs named after famous wrestling moves, such as the Scorpion Death Lock and the Yell of Apache IPA.
In 2011, Suzuki-san left Yokohama Beer to start up his own brewery, Bay Brewing Yokohama, in a small building just five minutes from Kannai station, which is fast becoming the craft beer capital of Kanagawa, if not Kanto. Suzuki-san’s brewing history is steeped in the southern German and Czech styles of beers; lagers, pilsners, wheat beers, and some porters in the mix as well.
Not knowing which direction to take, Bay Brewing Yokohama opened up as a brewpub in August 2011. In the early days of Bay Brewing Yokohama, all the beers on tap were sourced out from across Japan, with Shiga Kogen and Oirase Beer being two notable beers. The excitement quickly faded as customers were left waiting for Suzuki-san’s beers. When were they coming? In early 2012, Bay Brewing Yokohama received their happo-shu brewing licence, which meant they needed to produce 6kL (6,000L) a year, finally fulfilling Suzuki-san’s dream of owning his own brewery.
With Suzuki-san’s passion for Czech beers, it was only natural that one of the first beers brewed was a pilsner style beer. Czech beers are known for their refreshing and sharp tastes, and Bay Brewing Yokohama’s are no different. They even go so far as to import malts and hops from the Czech Republic and ship them over by boat. The whole brewing process takes place next door with the area wide open for customers to observe Suzuki-san hard at work. Along with Ando-san putting in his fair share of work, the pair of them are always busy trying to make the best beer they can.
At the moment, Bay Brewing Yokohama has a capacity to make 200L batches of beer with the aim of moving to bigger premises in the future. Bay Brewing Yokohama constantly tries to improve upon their beer but only Suzuki-san’s dedication to the production of craft beer rules every decision that is made there. Before producing larger batches of beer, Suzuki-san will make a smaller sample up to 100L and then listen to the opinions of his regulars. When asked about his plans for the brewery, Suzuki-san smiled and was quick to answer with a much larger capacity of around 100kL and the chance to expand his range of beers.
With beers consumed and Bay Brewing Yokohama getting busier and busier, Suzuki-san has to call the interview over to go and tend the bar. Watching Ando-san and Suzuki-san buzz around the bar; cooking food, serving beers, and laughing and joking with customers, it’s clear that both of them enjoy the work and the hours. The regular customers come and go, squeezing in where they can while outside, new customers look on in wondering if they can get a seat. The convenient location with the surrounding craft beer bars spurring on the competition means Bay Brewing Yokohama is on the up and the hard work is starting to pay off.