I have been taking increasing trips to Japan in 2023, and while I have sought out some experience, some have been a stroke of luck. I stumbled upon the Egret Brewery by accident and fell in love with it.
Japan has a growing, burgeoning, and amazing craft brewery scene since 2021. It feels similar to the US in the late 2000s and early 2010s when craft breweries exploded. Japan is going through a similar movement, and I expect this to grow much more in the next several years.
The experience is a unique exploration of Japan with beers, flavors, and new breweries trying different products and refining them to excellence. Many of these styles already exist in the USA, but it’s hard to find one that believes in such craft in Japan.
To be honest, I was surprised to find such a brewery in Himeji, Japan, while visiting the nearby Himeji Castle. The Egret Brewery produces classy and very tasty IPAs, Sours, and chilled Sours.
If you want to take in some history on the same trip, it is also a great spot to visit on the same evening as a trip to the nearby castle.
The brewery and castle are very close to the city and accessible on any trip to visit this UNESCO world heritage site.
How I Heard About the Egret Brewery
Would you believe me if I said I found this randomly on Google Maps? Because that is exactly what happened. I was having amazing sushi at dinner in the main city, but I wanted to find a place with good beer (Asahi and Kirin aren’t usually appealing).
After searching for beer and breweries on google maps across a wide area, I found several. I looked at reviews, images, and menus. Found Egret Brewery west of the city in an area off the beaten paths, adjacent to one of the city’s main railway lines.
With alcohol, experience is crucial, and knowing what to look for is vital due to the many styles and tastes. I noticed Egret Brewery was both highly rated and carried Sours. Now my interest was piqued, and I set off for the brewery.
Getting to the Egret Brewery
Sadly the brewery is somewhat out of the way and not the easiest to get to. Ironically this is what I liked about it as well. Coming from the castle, we struggled to find a cab near Himeji Castle. But eventually, we did.
Once in the cab, the driver didn’t even know where this place was. Even showing him on a map didn’t yield results until Yui began explaining it to the driver in Japanese. Luckily, we had a very talkative driver who could understand the route to the brewery.
The ride is about 15 minutes from the city center, and the brewery is located by the main railway line.
Unfortunately, when we arrived, it was going to close in 20 minutes. However, we met the owner at the front manning the bar, and he stayed open an hour later for us and three other guests. Talk about going above and beyond!
On the way back, we took the train from the next station down the line, “Agaho.” This station is only a ten-minute walk from the brewery and just one stop from the main Himeji station. The ride on the train takes approximately 8 minutes to the main station, and then You can walk from the Agaho station to the brewery in ten minutes. The brewery is reachable within twenty minutes from central Himeji.
Egret Brewery Experience and Layout
The Egret Brewery has a very intimate and classy atmosphere and feel. The online images I saw are what drove me to it in the first place, and I was not disappointed.
The owner comes across as professional and deep into his craft. He spent lots of time talking to us, with Yui as a translator. He was keen on us trying many of the different options – including for photographs.
I could tell he knew the product was good. I agreed after I tasted the beer.
There’s an art and a craft to making good beer; it requires understanding the ingredients and the complex processes and interactions between them. When asked what drives him to make his craft, he told us that he just really likes good beer.
The layout feels a bit like a Classy Scotch Lounge meets an Oregon Brewery. There’s some low chair/sofa seating along the side and window, and otherwise is an L-shaped bar layout with tall seating.
I noticed there was some whiskey stored on the top right including from some of my favorites in Scotland. However, I didn’t sample them this time. You can even peer into the production area from a small window.
Like many places in Japan, the brewery is cash only. So if visiting, be prepared to have enough on hand, especially if you are looking to buy beer and take it home.
In the space of one hour, we spent a solid 9000 yen between us, in just one hour.
Egret Brewery Drink Tasting
There is only one word to describe the drinks amazing!! I would describe the IPAs as hoppy but not overpowering, also generally fruity. The sours were well balanced, the best I’ve had in Japan.
#1 Egret IPA | Classic IPA | 5.5%
Standard well balanced IPA with hops, felt along a West Coast IPA style.
#2 White Harmony | Hazy White IPA | 5.5%
This was my favorite of the IPAs and was a cloudy honey-gold with a bitter taste and sharp kick.
#3 Magic Hour | Fruit IPA | 4.5%
Yui really liked this. I find most women aversive to IPAs as they’re too bitter, but this one was fruity and sweet with a hop kick. I thought this was the best I’ve had in Japan
#4 Rainbow Shot | Sour | 4.5%
This was a good standard sour beer with balance and not overpoweringly tart. I prefer Sours to be intense and sharp, so this was a bit mild for me.
#5 Layer of Self | Hezy | 6.5%
I didn’t try this one and wasn’t sure what it was.
#6 The Exciting | Sour | 4.5%
The final offering was the chilled Sour available only on-site. Came in a copper mug, chilled, with a huge head. Grape-Blackberry colored.
This was not available for take-out in a growler, which makes sense as this style is nearly impossible to replicate outside of a refrigerated keg.
The taste was multi-dimensional tart sour, with a foamy introduction and a refreshing finish. So delicious – Sugoi! I absolutely loved this taste – it was incredible.
By far, my absolute favorite was the #6 chilled sour. It was an absolutely incredible experience. Talking IPAs for a minute, the Fruit IPA was our combined favorite; I also liked the Hazy White IPA. If I was, to be honest, all of these were great and offered a very difficult and rare-to-find experience of this kind of beer in Japan.
Trying Some Food
Even after eating sushi, I was hungry and wanted to try something non-Japanese anyway. The pizza sounded appealing. I added jalapenos and prosciutto to this option. Also received some nuts on the side.
It was amazing, super delicious, and not a floppy kind of crust. It’s important for thin-crust pizza that the bottom of the crust itself is robust and doesn’t flop over. I find that the floppy effect really ruins the whole experience.
This pizza was firm, well-cooked, and delicious. We finished all of it and wolfed it down quickly.
Drinks To Go
If you want to take some drinks with you, there’s a whole vending fridge with To-Go bottles and can options. In fact, my favorite part was outside the brewery – the To Go beer vending machine.
I loved the beer vending machine – what a great idea! It is the perfect invention if it’s late hours; you can still pick up some beer if you need it.
It would be great if the US would adopt the vending machine idea. Honestly, it’s amazing and has been so convenient. Although I think it will never happen.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
The Egret Brewery is outstanding, and I would go there again in a heartbeat. The products are excellent. The ambiance and food are brilliant. And there is a beer vending machine to boot! If all that is not enough for you there is also a great castle to see and experience. I will definitely come back on my next visit to Himeji.