Minakuchi is the only sake brewery in Dogo. It was founded in 1895, the year after Dogo Onsen Honkan was built, and the brewery has produced its “Nikitatsu” brand of sake for over 100 years. “Nikitatsu” appears in the ancient Manyoshu anthology of verse as a welcoming port of call.
Minakuchi respects the traditions and techniques of its founders and continues to preserve the traditional Nikitatsu taste. The raw materials used are sake rice from Ehime Prefecture and pure water from a well located fifty metres under the brewery. During fermentation, the mash is kept in jacket tanks that protect it from fluctuations in temperature, which is controlled by computer to maintain stable quality. The brewery has won the Gold Award a total of seven times in the prestigious annual competition of the National Research Institute of Brewing.
Since 1994, Minakuchi has been brewing Dogo Beer with the aim of revitalizing the Dogo area in cooperation with the Dogo Onsen Ryokan Cooperative. The brewery opened two restaurants in Dogo serving the company’s beer and sake. In recent years, Minakuchi has developed low-malt beer called Dogo Fizz, Dogo Shochu, a non-alcohol carbonated drink Dogo Cider, and the Dogo Beautiful Skin series of health products.
Minakuchi’s main building is a beautiful wooden two-story structure built in 1917. It’s designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property. The exterior is plastered, with board wainscoting, and the second floor expresses the freedom of the Taisho period with its Western style round windows. Back in the gay old day, parties used to be held on the second floor.
You can freely enter main building and see the small area of exhibits, which include antique brewing equipment and a mikoshi divine palanquin. Don’t omit to visit the brewery shop which has many attractive souvenirs, in addition to the beer and sake which you can taste.
Opposite the shop is Nikitatsu-an, one of the two restaurants owned by the brewery. It’s a beautiful one-storey villa surrounded by bamboo, and it serves a range of reasonably priced options featuring local produce. This is a good place to try Minakuchi’s sake and beer with the kind of food it’s brewed to complement.
Name in Japanese: 水口酒造
Pronunciation: minakuchi shuzō
Address: 3-23 Dogokitamachi, Matsuyama, Ehime 790-0848