Biwako Brewery : The Bottom Line
Biwako Brewery is a classic case of a brewer not knowing when they’re wrong and adamant that their beer is perfectly fine, but instead, is terrible and not worth the bottle or glass it comes in. That’s a shame as there is nothing else really in the Takashima area for craft beer, so unless you’re desperate to try some of the worst craft beer that Japan has to offer – and believe me, I’ve tried a few – give Biwako Brewery a wide miss. It’s a shame really as there was some tasty food and friendly staff.
Biwako Brewery : The Full Review
As I began my ride around Lake Biwa a little earlier than expected, I was too early to get to Omi Beer as it didn’t open until midday. Biwako Brewery came up on the search for craft beer places in the area, with the north west part of the lake seemingly quite barren in terms of beer action. It was a surprise to find out that Biwako Brewery had its origins in 2018, rather than being much older than that, though due to Corona, the brewery didn’t stop operations until August 2021.
Biwako Brewery is located up a slight hill from the shore of Lake Biwa, and is about a 10 minute walk from Omi-Imazu station. The building itself was originally a food factory that was renovated into a brewery and a restaurant. It is made into a shop and also houses the brewery itself, though you can not see it from the restaurant seating area.
Biwako Brewery : Atmosphere & Interior
Biwako Brewery is incredible spacious inside – so much so that there is a good two metres between tables, making it seem even bigger inside. There is space for about 70 people inside, and there is also a small deck outside with space for another 12 people, and when the weather is nice, I recommend sitting out there instead. The whole place is non-smoking and there is also no table charge.
It definitely seems like the building was renovated in a rush as there is a lot of empty space inside, and when there are so few customers in there, I think there were 10 in total when I went, which made the place seem rather barren and wasted at times. There was some gentle generic background music as well, though I can not remember what style it was as it was barely hearable after being seated “near” one group whose voices dominated across the hall.
Biwako Brewery : Beer & Tap Information
Biwako Brewery is the first brewpub, at the time of writing, that I have been to that has had a total of 0 taps for craft beer – yes, not even their own beers are available on tap. The beers come in bottles only, with them being 500 yen per bottle, with some flights available – 4 beers for ¥1,800 and 6 beers for ¥2,700. Beers can also be bought for takeaway at the same price at the front counter. That should have been a warning sign but alas, I carried on regardless for you dear readers. With the sun beginning to beat down, and lunch ordered, I was in the mood for something light and crisp to drink, with the kölsch sounding right up my street. I do love a good kölsch on a warm sunny day, with TDM 1874 Leitungswasser Kölsch being one of the best in Japan.
Biwako Kölsch was in the top ten for sure – top ten worst beers I’ve had in Japan. It’s amazing how someone can brew something so bad and still sell it. It was so bad that I actually ended up leaving half the bottle in the glass. The staff did ask why and I politely told them why I couldn’t finish it but I was met with incredulity and comments about the beer being fine and to style. Who am I to argue with a brewer?
Biwako Brewery : Food Information
After a good 60 km of riding, I was hungry and wanted something more than just chips – sacrilegious I know but I needed energy for some climbs coming up and chips were not going to do it. It says a lot about the place when the food is better than the beer but at Biwako Brewery, they didn’t have try hard. The food is mostly set based around Western dishes, with just some small appetisers on the menu but there’s plenty for everyone. The menus were in Japanese only, and I wasn’t offered anything in English – not a surprise really considering where I was. The prices did include tax and I was surprised with how much food I got for the price – a decent amount of beef, with some sides, and the bread was fantastic – guessing it wasn’t made here then.
Biwako Brewery : Details
- Open : Daily 11:00 – 15:00 (L.O 14:30) 17:00 – 21:00 (L.O 20:30)
- Closed : Tuesdays + 2nd / 4th Mondays
- Happy Hour : N/A
- Phone : 0740-28-7263
- Homepage (in Japanese) : https://biwako-beer.com/
- Social Media : Facebook / Instagram