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Eating out / Father taps family members to open Chiba brewery-restaurant

The Yomiuri Shimbun

From right, Fumitaka, Kazuhiro, Kazuko and Takehiro Niwa hold drinks from their Kashiwa-based brewery.

By Atsushi Kawai/Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterKASHIWA, Chiba — The former operator of a cram school in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, has fulfilled a long-held dream of opening a restaurant and brewery with his family.

Kashiwa Beer opened in Kashiwa last year. Owner Fumitaka Niwa, 60, and his wife Kazuko, 59, taught elementary and junior high school students at a cram school founded by Fumitaka’s parents 62 years ago until August last year.

Starting five years ago, the cram school rented about 6000 square meters of farmland in Kashiwa and Shiroi in the prefecture, where the students learned about the cultivation of wheat and sweet potato.

A large amount of wheat was harvested, prompting Fumitaka to consider how to use it. He recalled his desire to brew beer, as he had studied zymurgy at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Tokyo.

His third son Kazuhiro, 27, knew of his father’s dream and wanted to help him achieve it. He left the medical university he had been attending in Hungary and returned to Japan early last year and began studying at a brewery in Tokyo.

Kazuko stopped teaching at the cram school, and the couple’s second son Takehiro, 30, left his company job to join the management staff of the restaurant.

The family obtained a license to produce happoshu low-malt quasi-beer and invested about ¥20 million to launch the restaurant, which opened on Dec. 16 last year. Fumitaka manages the overall operations while Kazuko is in charge of cooking, Takehiro handles sales promotion and Kazuhiro is in charge of brewing.

The restaurant serves five kinds of beerlike beverages named after their closest beer equivalents, such as, ‘Kashiwa Pale Ale,’ which has a deep flavor of hops; ‘Teganuma Porter,’ which has a deep color; and ‘Shirakaba Weizen,’ which has a banana-like flavor.

The restaurant will soon begin offering products made from strawberries produced by farmers in Kashiwa and apples produced in Aomori Prefecture.

The main ingredients of the products are wheat and hops, but fruits and seasonings are also used, so the beverages are categorized as happoshu under the current Liquor Tax Law.

However, the law was recently revised and the definition of beer will change in April. After the revision, the family’s products will be categorized as beers.

The five beverages brewed by Kashiwa Beer are priced at ¥650, excluding tax, for a 420-milliliter glass. Currently, they are only for sale at the restaurant. However, the family said they want to produce bottled beverages sometime in the future, and expand sales.

“In the future, we want to use hops and wheat produced here [in Chiba],” Fumitaka said. “I want to give lessons to teach people how to brew. Through brewing, I want to contribute to the local community here.”

Kashiwa Beer

Open: 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Thursdays to Sundays

Address, 5-8-15 Kashiwa, Kashiwa city, Chiba Prefecture

Phone:(04) 7199-7774

Credit cards not accepted

English menu available

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