Gem of a Japanese ale that has been secretly championing our city

Andrew Clark, from Penwortham, with his bottles of Preston Ale - brewed in Japan.
Andrew Clark, from Penwortham, with his bottles of Preston Ale - brewed in Japan.

Hidden away in the corner of a hardware and home furnishing store in Japan is a micro-brewery making a line of beer very close to home.

The line of real ale, called Preston Ale, is brewed and bottled in the Kanto area of Japan and is exclusively available in the Greater Tokyo Area.

A bottle of the Preston Ale IPA.

A bottle of the Preston Ale IPA.

Something of a hidden gem connecting Preston to Japan, the ale was recently discovered by Andrew Clark, from Penwortham, who has spent 9 years of his life in Japan teaching the English language.

Kirkham-born Andrew said: “I used to live in Japan and was introduced to the beer by my friend over there.”

Brewed by Joyful Honda – similar to Homebase and B&Q in the UK – in its Utsunomiya store a couple of hours north of Tokyo, the beer was first brewed 15 years ago in 2002.

Andrew,47, said: “The brewery is hidden away in a big place. It’s the equivalent of going into B&Q and seeing a small area in th e corner operating as a mico-brewery.

Preston Ale comes boxed when bought in bulk.

Preston Ale comes boxed when bought in bulk.

“We are so lucky to have found out about it. We got a couple of bottles of the IPA, Pale Ale and Brown Ale.”

But like with all beers, there’s no show without Punch – taste is what matters most.

Andrew said: “They are quite strong but they are all good! We preferred the Pale Ale other the others; it was fantastic.

“They also do a stout – so four beers in total – but we didn’t get our hands on it.”

The name itself comes from when the president of Honda Sangyo – Joyful Honda’s parent company – visited Preston and had such a good time immersing himself in the city’s culture that he immortalised his experience in the line of beers.

For Andrew – who speaks Japanese and whose wife is from Japan – the opportunity now exists to bring the line of ales to Preston.

The English language teacher said: “We are trying to establish contact with the owners of the brewery to tell them that people in Preston are aware of the product.

“Going forward we want to sort something out with them and work together to get it over here in some way, shape, or form.”

The discovery of the beer has coincided with a craft ale boom across Japan.

Andrew said: “Until very recently Japan had four, maybe five major beers across the country. For whatever reason, the last 10 to 15 years has seen craft beers popularity explode in the country.

“Preston Ale is one of many but none of the others I have come across are named in honour of a place like Preston is.”