If you are in Tokyo, visiting Konohanano Doburoku Brewery in Asakusa is an absolute must. Because they are not only making amazing Doburoku, but they are making it pretty much right in front of you, because this is not just a brewery with a tasting room, this is a brewery restaurant/bar that serves great food and sake along with their fantastic brews.
Konohanano Doburoku Brewery - The Space
Located in the famous Asakusa neighborhood in Tokyo, this brewery is as easily accessible as it gets. It is Asakusa's first Craft SAKE Brewery and it opened its doors in June 2020. The front of the space being the Doburoku Brewery and the back of the space being a stylish restaurant bar, that is better known under the name ALL (W)RIGHT.
Take a seat at the bar or snuggle into one of the comfy armchairs or sofas, this is a super relaxed place, great to unwind and just chill while drinking some delicious beverages (because their menu does not just feature their own Doburoku, but also sake from other breweries).
A great concept and part of the fun here is being able to see how their Doburoku is made right in front of you, with lots of seasonal brews. The only downside, if you like something they are making you will have to wait and come back for it in a few weeks, or maybe that is an upside too?
Before going into the Doburoku that is made here, I wanted to mentiont the philosophy of the brewery, which I love. With lots of young people working here as Kurabito (Brewery staff), their aim is really about helping people getting into the industry and helping them grow, a mindset that is behind the breweries creative and inovative spirit.
It is also worth highlighting that they have their own Koji room, something they are very proud about.
Now for their Doburoku, the flagship brew is their "Hanagumori", which comes in two version. "Hanagumori" and "Hanagumori San" with the difference being the later being made with white Koji, giving the Doburoku more acidity and a dry and sharp in taste. And then there are a variety of products, most seasonal as well as a very smart sake collaboration with Tsuchida Sake Brewery called Tsuchida Sake Brewery x KONOHANANO Brewery HANAGUMORI Shibori.Why am I calling it smart? Because the brewery does not have a brewing lisence for sake, only for Doburoku. But collaborating and pressing their brews at a brewery that holds a licenc nicely navigates around that...
Konohanano Doburoku Tasting
The most fun for me when visiting a brewery is to try as much of their sake, or in this case Doburoku, as I can. And I do not mean drinking a lot, but tasting as many varieties as possible and a great way to do this are tasting sets. Most breweries have them in one shape or another and they are just a great way to get your head around the general idea of what a brewery makes. Plus they are always great value.
Now Konohanano brewery does a tasting tray of 3 including their standard Doburoku "Hanagumori", a Hop Doburoku and their Zen-Kouji, which is the perfect starting point. After that just go with the flow, they also always have a few interesting things in their fridges that is worth having a look, with items that are not on the menu. Or if you want to play it save, just ask the staff to recommend you something.
And again, as this is not just a brewery, but a functional restuarant you can also just freely order brews that you are curious about and as Konohanano is part of the Craft Sake Brewer Association, in which all members brew fantastic Doburoko, you will generally find some really interesting bottles in the fridges here. Along with plenty of great sake and craft beers.
They also do have a great food menu, with lots of variety. One of my personal favourites are the french fries which are served with what I believe is a Ume (plum) sauce that is highly addictive. So if you visit ALL (W)RIGHT and fancy some western food with a twist make sure to give them a try.
It is All in the Name
I am always intrigued about labels and about names and so I found it interesting that. here, the name of the brewery actually comes from "Konohanasakuya-hime, which is said to be the goddess not just of Mount Fuji and all volcanoes in Japanese mythology, but she is also the blossom-princess with one of her symbols being sakura (cherry blossom). The meaning of the name is "a beautiful princess who blooms like a cherry tree" and as a matter of fact, cherry trees are also the tree of Taito Ward in which the brewery is located.
After reading about this, the label made so much for sence to me, as for me it alays reminded me of a stylized christian madonna from old rennaissance paintings. So finally the dots have come together. However, whatever you want to call "her" or what imagery you see, this is yet another great design that is highly recognisable and looks extremly highend.
Location: Google Maps
And if you are looking for more great places to try sake, shops or breweries check out Tokyo Sake Tourism, where I continue to upload more great places to discover and enjoy Japanese Sake!