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The Monkey Mountain Craft Beer brewery is one of those pocket-sized delights that Japan as a whole excels in. Except that in this case an American is the source of its life and soul, and its quality beer.
Darren Aaberge, who hails from Oregon, has held a singular passion for making beer since he was 20 years old. While he developed a career as an engineer in the semiconductor industry, he perfected his home brewing skills until a move to Japan, when he found that local laws meant he could no longer pursue his hobby. So, Darren determined to open his own licenced boutique brewery, which he achieved in 2018 when he established Monkey Mountain Craft Beer in the centre of Oita City.
Monkey Mountain, named after Oita City’s popular Takasakiyama, is not just a brewer but a haven for those who savour good beer and enjoy friendly company. Quietly spoken Darren obviously puts his heart and soul into his beers which include Pale Ale, Porter, Blonde, Red Ale, Kabosu Ginger Ale, Strawberry Blonde, IPA and Barley Wine. The last two were awarded, respectively, silver at the 2020 Japan Great Beer Awards and Bronze at the 2020 International Beer Cup. Honours indeed for what must be one of Japan’s smallest breweries, but Darren relates that his greatest pleasure is making delicious beer to be enjoyed by aficionados. Many of Oita’s restaurants and bars stock Monkey Mountain beers and it also available to order online. But perhaps dropping by the brewery's shop-front bar, where Darren pours the beers himself, adds that extra frisson.
At a glance
A charming boutique craft beer brewery producing award-winning craft beers.