The eighth factory study tour was held on July 14th at Asahi Breweries at the Ashigara Factory. This was the last factory study tour for this semester. When we were on the bus to Asahi Breweries, we were taught that in Japanese restaurant, there was a custom of using hand signs to order alcoholic drinks. Five fingers means Asahi, 4 fingers means Kirin, and 3 fingers means Suntory. It was quite interesting to have such kind of hand signs.
After arriving at Asahi Breweries, we got to see some videos before having a tour in Asahi Breweries. The video explained about the process of making a beer. There are three main raw materials used for producing beer: barley, hops, and water. First, barley is processed and converted to malt by adding water and aerating the mixture to stimulate germination. Beer adjuncts, malt and hot water will then be boiled and mixed together, and then filtered to obtain transparent wort. Then hops will be added to give some special aroma and flavor. In the fermentation tank, beer yeast is added to well-chilled wort to start fermentation. The fermentation and then maturation process will need several weeks. Matured beer will then be filtered to be put into bottles and cans. They use fill-height inspector and visual check to ensure that every bottle and can is filled with the same amount of beer. Those bottles and cans will then be packed into cases. Every day, some beer masters will sample the finished beer to ensure the quality of the beer.
At the beginning of the guided tour, we could see some example of materials used for beer such as the barley and hops. During the tour around Asahi Breweries, we were shown the facilities in Asahi Breweries, such as the mash kettle, which was very huge. There were also fermentation and maturation tank, bottle washer, can and bottle fillers, beer filter, fill-height inspector, case packers, and so on. But unfortunately there was no machine operating at that time, so we couldn’t see the process. At the end of the tour, there was a glass cupboard which showed many products of Asahi Breweries. Asahi produced not only beer but also other products. There were Asahi Super Dry, Black Beer, soft drinks, biscuits, etc. The materials used for Asahi products were also collected and then recycled to be used in other things. For example, there was uniform for Asahi’s staff which was made of 60% plastic and the rest was using other material such as cotton. The plastic were taken from bottles and then recycled to become the material for the clothes. Other environment conservation efforts from Asahi are “preventing global warming”, “energy saving”, and “efficient use of water resources”. Every brewery in Asahi tries to reduce the emission of CO2 by increasing the efficiency in production and also product transport. Asahi also has energy-saving equipment such as the co-generation system that generates electricity through the combustion of fuel while simultaneously making use of the gases released during this combustion to produce steam. Asahi also tries to save water by rethinking its cleaning procedures and recycling its rinsing water.
After the guided tour, we were given a chance to taste the beer from Asahi like the Super Dry and the black beer. For students who could not drink beer, Asahi also provided some soft drinks.