Asahi is one of Japan's top four beer producers and has its roots in Osaka. Its most well-known and internationally recognized product is Asahi Super Dry, a very light, crisp lager, which was launched in 1987. The Suita Factory (アサヒビール吹田工場, Asahi Beer Suita Kōjō) in Osaka is the company's first brewery, built in 1891.
Free brewery tours are offered at the Suita Factory which last about 90 minutes and include a tasting session. Most tours are conducted in Japanese, while multilingual audio guides are available for download to one's mobile device. English tours are held only on a few selected days.
A typical tour starts with a video presentation of the Asahi products and continues to galleries with displays about the history of the company and the production process of beer. It then moves on to observation decks from where the brewery's canning, bottling and packing areas can be viewed from behind windows. Along the way, there are also promotional posters from past decades and a section showcasing the factory's collection of international beers.
Technology and automation play an important role in the factory, as several million bottles are produced every day. Most notable are the bottling and canning processes that deliver the final packaged product within minutes. In fact, the conveyor belt system used in the bottling process at the Suita factory in the early 20th century is said to form the foundation for conveyor belt sushi. The last twenty minutes of the tour consist of free tasting, when visitors can try up to three glasses of beer and receive some snacks.
Apart from the brewery tour, the factory has a gift shop that sells Asahi products and memorabilia, some of which are not available elsewhere. A number of historic structures from the original factory still remain on the grounds, including a large brick building from the early 20th century, a brick wall with stained glass windows and the top part of a chimney, all found near the entrance to the factory.
Brewery tours are free of charge and are conducted every 30 minutes between 9:30 and 15:00, except on a few selected days per month (check the official website for details). It is strongly recommended to make reservations beforehand by phone (066-388-1943) as tours often fill up.