"It was really nice to be able to consult with NITTO KINZOKU KOGYO about the design and production of original containers, considering the balance between the size of our production site, the production volume, and the cost of the equipment."
LINA is engaged in a wide range of businesses related to food and beverage, including restaurant management and craft beer brewing.
To meet the demand for small-volume production of craft beer brewery, LINA applied fully custom-made stainless steel containers from Nitto Kinzoku Kogyo.
LINA has built a brewing facility with 100L size cylindrical containers and has achieved the goal for providing an original beer production service for restaurants and wedding ceremonies.
Recently we got a chance to talk with Mr. Masahiro Ogawa, the president of LINA Corporation.
Mr. Masahiro Ogawa, CEO and President
We make a wide variety of beers because we want as many people as possible to enjoy craft beer!
Vector Beer Factory, a boutique craft beer bar in Tokyo, running by LINA Corporation.
-"First of all, could you talk about your company's beer brewing business?"
With the idea that we want more people to enjoy craft beer, we are working vigorously to develop various products for the brewers.
By producing a wide range of beers, from “easy to drink with a gorgeous aroma but low bitterness” to “India Pale Ale (IPA) with a strong hop bitterness,” I believe that our craft beers can be enjoyed by both people who are not having the habit of drinking beer and beer maniacs.
We have several production bases, but the one that uses Nitto Kinzoku Kogyo’s tanks is the VECTOR BEER FACTORY in Tokyo, which brews on a 100-liter scale.
We also have a brewery in Asakusabashi that can brew on a large scale, about 1000 liters per lot.
-"What inspired you to start brewing your own craft beer?"
One reason is that, I have always loved beer, but the main reason was that I tried to run two beer bars in adjacent locations in Shinjuku, Tokyo about seven years ago.
I thought that if I was going to open a new store in a close distance, I would like to make some difference, rather than opening a similar beer bar.
So we decided to brew our own beer at the new opened bar.
The fact that you can drink beer brewed in the bar was so appealing that we couldn’t keep up with production with the equipment in the bar at that time.
So in 2017, we opened a new brewery in Asakusabashi.
-"In addition to brewing your own beer, you are also supporting the acquisition of brewing license."
When we started brewing on our own, we had a lot of trouble getting a brewing license, and it took about a year for us to deal it with.
We started a consulting business a few years ago because we thought there would be many people who would have trouble in the future getting the permit.
In addition, not only about how to make beer, but we also provide information on what you need to know to get a license, how to deal with the tax office, and many other things. We help them get their licenses in about 6 to 8 months, and this service is well praised by our clients.
We use stainless steel containers to brew our craft beer inside the bar.
-"Which procedure do you use NITTO KINZOKU containers for in the whole beer brewing process?"
We use containers as equipment for in-store brewing at the “VECTOR BEER FACTORY” in Tokyo, which I mentioned earlier.
Specifically, we use hot liquor tanks for boiling water, and tanks for mashing and boiling barley. With these facilities, we brew about 100 liters of beer at a time.
"We need equipment that can handle small-volume production."
How I came to know about Nitto Kinzoku Kogyo was by an introduction from a restaurant I met through beer brewing consulting. At the time, we were using a 300-liter tank made overseas, but we were getting more and more inquiries from customers who wanted to make their own original beer with a volume of around 100 liters. We were considering replacing the tank because the amount of beer we were preparing did not match the needs.
We considered purchasing a set of packaged brewing tanks made in the US, but we were wondering if there was any other way to reduce the cost as well as be able to handle small volume production.
It was nice that NITTO KINZOKU KOGYO gave me a lot of advices about making an original container.
-"It has been about a year since the delivery of the first product you have adopted. How do you feel after using it?"
First of all, now that we can produce around 100 liters, we can meet the new demand for small-volume production as we hoped.
In addition to restaurants, we also can serve the original beer to the general public such as celebrations and weddings.
Also, from the proposal stage, I was very happy to have the opportunity to consult with NITTO KINZOKU KOGYO about the production of original containers, considering the size of the production site, the production volume, and the cost of the equipment.
For example, the hot liquor and boiling tanks were designed to be heated directly on the gas stove. Compared to using temperature control equipment, we have been able to reduce the cost.
Also, I asked to customize the lid of the container with a simple showerhead-like device for the sparging process. This is the key point in the brewing process.
In addition, mesh plates are installed in the container to filter the barley used as raw material. One of the main reasons we chose Nitto Kinzoku Kogyo was the ability to customize the system to meet our needs, and we have seen the benefits of this in actual use.
We have frequent inquiries on equipment in my beer consulting service, and being able to customize it to fit a one’s budget and equipment is very, very helpful.
-"We heard that the beer consulting business is very popular now?"
It is very popular among people who want to start a new business, since a lot of people are encouraged by the subsidy system. The scale of business varies: some people are suddenly able to develop their business on a large scale, while others start from a small scale as individuals.
If you have a lot of budgets, specialized beer equipment “package” may be a good choice, but if you are an individual customer who wants to start on a small scale, I think that a method of production using a cylindrical container and a gas stove, such as Nitto Kinzoku Kogyo’s container, is highly recommended.
We learned a lot about the recommended original craft beer!
LINA has a brewing team called ” Vector Brewing” and they are actively developing as a manufacturer.
We asked Mr. Ogawa, the one we interviewed this time, about his recommended craft beer.
These products can be purchased at the Official online store or at the brewery in Asakusabashi.
A pale ale with the bitterness reduced to about the level of a cat punch, this is a standard product popular with a wide range of people. The aroma is gorgeous and the bitterness is not too strong, so it is also recommended for people who do not like beer.
(In 2019, it won a gold medal at the Japan Great Beer Awards hosted by The Craft Beer Association. Amazing!)
White Cat Punches
A Weizen with a fruity aroma and moderate bitterness, with the addition of Citra hops, which have a characteristic citrus aroma. This white beer is refreshing and easy to drink.
This is one of the products in the Shake series that is a bit unique. The melon-like aroma produced by Japanese sake yeast is impressive. Recommended for those who don’t like beer!
The product on which the customization is based
Boiling tank, hot liquor
Hopper type general-purpose container with legs
This time, we were able to interview a company with an overflowing spirit of challenge. President Ogawa is so passionate about making things with his own hands that he even DIY’d the interior of the store himself.
We could feel his enthusiasm for the craft beer that he produces, and his attitude of trying to make the restaurant industry more exciting.
We NITTO KINZOKU KOGYO as the container supplier, had a series of meetings with LINA and proposed a design that could take the balance between budget and requirements.
We would be happy if we can continue to build a relationship with LINA to design craft beer vessels together and manufacture containers that will be the first units for customers who want to start craft beer brewing.