Brewer gives a hand up
A Japanese micro-brewery is helping transform the lives of locals by employing the unemployable. The Derailleur Brew Works in the deprived district of Nishinari in Osaka is helping residents down on their luck get back on their feet. Nishinari became notorious in the 1990s for being a no-go area rife with alcohol and drug misuse and gang warfare. In an effort to offer the marginalised meaningful work, the company — Cyclo — reached out to ex-alcoholics and drug addicts. Cyclo also provides work for disabled people and those suffering from mental health issues.
Its debut brew — Nishinari Riot Ale (named after an infamous riot in the area) — launched in 2018. Since then, reports The Mainichi, the pale ale “has found an enthusiastic drinking public across Japan.” Indeed, the beer has become so popular, the firm is planning to quadruple its production capacity — meaning further employment opportunities for the disadvantaged. “I want to be able to up our production capability and create a working environment that really motivates people, including those with disabilities,” said Cyclo chief Masanobu Yamazaki.
On such employee — known as Yama-chan (pictured above, centre) — is blind. “It’s fun to be able to work alongside my friends,” he told The Guardian. “Handling the bottles by touch alone is the sort of work I can do without any problem. I need help getting around, but apart from that I can do my job freely. I really enjoy it.”
Depending on their disability or state of mind, employees are able to customise their work schedule. “Some are unable to concentrate for long so work for, say, 30 minutes a day,” said Yamazaki. “I don’t think they’d be able to find work anywhere else.” Before joining the company, a lot of the employees would just idle their days away. Sho-chan — a former alcoholic — says working at the brewery has changed his life. “My previous life was tough but it’s much brighter now and I’ve started to look forward to every new day.”
ABOVE Employees pack freshly bottled beer at the Derailleur Brew Works in Osaka