Dogo Onsen is an onsen town which is now part of Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture’s main city. The onsen is said to be the oldest in Japan, and, while claims that it dates back three thousand years are difficult to prove, it is certainly mentioned in Japanese literature almost from the start, in the 6 onsen features prominently in Natsume Soseki’s novel “Botchan”, and Botchan related goods and buildings, etc., were much in evidence. The Meijiera bathhouse buildings form the centre of this town, and sit in the middle of a kind of square, rather as a church might in a European city. Perhaps it could be argued that onsen are the Japanese equivalent of churches anyway.
However, after I had enjoyed my soak in the tub, I discovered a church of a different religion, that of beer. Dogo Beer, the brewery and pub of the company, sits right next to the onsen. It started life as a shochu maker, but branched out into beers some years ago, which makes it a particularly Japanese style craft beer pub. The atmosphere is definitely Japanese, with a lot of tables on tatami and the majority of customers when I went were in yukata, clearly tourists for the onsen.
In addition to beer, the menu has a lot of shochu and nihonshu, and not a lot of other drinks. There were four beers on offer when I went: three regulars and one limited period one. Here the Botchan theme was also in play: the first beer I had was the Kölsch “Botchan beer” (the name appears on the menu, but not on the bottle, so far as I could see). It was pretty easy to drink, which a slightly bitter aftertaste. Then came its companion, “Madonna”, an Alt. Very littlee aroma to this beer, but it was very refreshing. It was the one I ended up reordering after I’d got through the others. The third beer was a stout called “Soseki”, very smooth and satisfying, without any bitterness at all, just what a stout should be.
The fourth, limited period beer (till the end of February) was a chocolate beer. Unlike a lot of beers with this appellation, it really had a chocolate aroma and even taste. It was very smooth and enjoyable. I assume it’s a regular winter brew. I was told that from March a Weizen beer would be on sale instead. All the beers were the same price: ¥500 for a 250ml glass,¥860 for a 500ml “jockey” and¥3200 for a 1800ml pitcher. The pictures show examples of glasses and a jockey (the chocolate beer).
The food menu was less inspiring at Dogo Beer. I had already eaten (in fact, seeing Botchan beer on my hotel restaurant’s menu made me investigate and find this place), but I had a “Momotaro” tomato salad, which was very ordinary. Service was quick and efficient and the place is clearly popular.
Dogo Beer Details
Open: Daily 11:00 ~ 22:00
Phone: 089 945 6866
Homepage (in Japanese): Dogo Beer Restaurant
How to Get to Dogo Beer Restaurant
The nearest station to Dogo Beer is Dogo Onsen on either tram line 3 or 5. It’s about a five-minute walk from the station using the map below.