Nurturing brewing techniques and a craft beer culture in a renovated school building
Hiromi Uetake is the owner of Brasserie Knot, a beer brewing company in Tsurui Village. He had previously worked for a beer company where he was involved in establishing breweries in Furano and other parts of Japan. He then went to Canada to further improve his brewing techniques, but the visit was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. So he decided to return to Japan and start his own brewery. He chose to do it in eastern Hokkaido since craft beer breweries were still few and far between in the region. While searching for possible locations, he came upon the building of the former Mosetsuri Elementary School in Tsurui, and found its old gym to be quite suitable due to its high ceiling and its lack of large pillars. Making use of an abandoned school building also jibed with his concept of “community building through beer brewing”.
Brasserie Knot produces 5 types of craft beer, including a line that is only available in eastern Hokkaido. They also occasionally make limited edition products such as a beer made with local Tsurui grapes. They make use of fresh groundwater that springs from Mt. Akan-dake, and turn by-products such as barley husk into cattle feed. Uetake-san believes that operating his brewery in Tsurui holds more significance since he can support the village’s main industry of dairy farming. He is also thankful for the warmth showed by the people of Tsurui. “They welcomed us with open arms, and many of them have become fans of our beer. I’m really happy to have started this business in Tsurui.”
Uetake-san’s goal is to make craft beer that is rooted in the community of eastern Hokkaido. He often goes from place to place to promote and market his products. Tsurui’s proximity to Kushiro City and Kushiro Airport, as well as its central location in eastern Hokkaido not only makes it convenient for his business, it also helps enrich his private life. As someone who loves the outdoors, he finds the rich nature of the region to be one of its best points, whether it’s the mountains, lakes, or the nearby ocean. Even his wife and two children have fallen in love with the place. He is thankful for the generous child-rearing support provided by the village, and watching his children enjoy playing in nature reassures him that he made the right choice by moving to Tsurui.