Breweries have the power to change the places in which they exist, and many try with charitable donations, sustainability initiatives and employee ownership. In Kyoto, Japan, we found maybe our favorite example of this, where a psychiatrist is using beer to bring together agriculture and social welfare to create job opportunities for those with disabilities.
The brains behind the idea is Shunsuke Takagi. The plan is to work with welfare centers engaging in organic farming and using ingredients like barley and hops cultivated by those with disabilities to produce special regional craft beer.
The idea then came to him that “craft beer is easy to become familiar with and could easily become a good local product,” and Takagi established the Kyoto Ichijoji Brewery in the city’s Sakyo Ward in 2011. Two up-and-coming brewers joined the project, and the company was so successful that it won a prize in a competition held by the Japanese Craft Beer Association. As operation of the brewery has stabilized, Takagi now plans to brew the craft beer with the cooperation of facilities and farms that hire people with disabilities.
“By working, people with disabilities can get involved in society, build connections with others in the community, and regain their self-confidence,” Takagi explained with a glass of beer in hand at a popular pub his brewery manages. “It’s not that people can’t work because their symptoms are severe, but there are jobs even people with severe symptoms can do.”
“First, I would like people to try the beer and then learn about the people who make it,” said Takagi. “It would be great if it worked out like that.”
Cheers to that.