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Brews News #99 - April/May 2010

Beer There

Tokyo Real Ale Festival

Sunday, February 14

This year's event was pretty much like last year's with a few great beers, but no real surprises. I particularly liked the Brown Ale and the Imperial IPA from Isekadoya, as well as the Not So Mild Ale from Shiga Kogen. Of course, the Ganko Oyaji Barleywine and Nakameguro Bitter from Baird Beer were superb. The biggest attraction, of course, is the festival-like atmosphere and the gathering of beer friends.

BEERS Hanami

Saturday, April 3

While it really wasn't sunny and warm, the weather did hold for most of the BEERS (Beer Enjoyment, Education and Research Society) Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) beer party in Yoyogi Park. Perhaps the most striking thing this year was how good the homebrew was, brought in my several fairly talented home brewers.

The other high point was the great selection of U.S. microbrew brought in (some donated) by Andrew Balmuth of Nagano Trading, a Japan-based importer. Balmuth tells me he is planning a few more microbrew events later on this year, so keep an eye out for announcements.

Bar Beat

Moon Light
Tama-ku, Kawasaki

Blink and you could miss it. This has got to be the smallest brewpub, and possibly the least expensive. Here it is, in a remote corner of suburban Kawasaki, a short walk from either Noborito Station (Nambu Line) or Mukogaoka Yuen Station (Odakyu Line), Moon Light is in a small shopping street space that is thoroughly non-descript.

At any given time, several types of beer are on tap, usually lager type brews with an occasional bitter, pale ale, or even Belgian style thrown in for good measure. A glass of beer here will set you back 300 yen, with some types costing more, up to about 600 yen. Snacks are cheap, most priced at just a few hundred yen.

This is quite an interesting and very "local" place, but don't expect the beer here to be on par with the more well-known microbreweries. Rumor has it the beer here is made from malt extract. Nevertheless, when I visited I didn't notice any unusual off flavors or any huge defects. If you are in the area, or just curious, drop in for a few.


Craft Beer Moon Light
1818 Noborito, Tama-ku
Kawasaki-shi
044-930-1018
www.craftbeer-moonlight.jp

Six Pick

Rating system:

! ! ! ! ! Exceptional, among the best of its type in the world.
! ! ! ! Highly recommended, without hesitation or fine print.
! ! ! Recommended as being good, interesting, worth a try.
! ! Some people may like it; otherwise close but no cigar.
! We don't think you'll like it, but there's some reason why we mention it. You're on your own with this one.
ugh We recommend that you avoid this product.

Unusual Japanese Craft Beers

!!!! Sapporo Royce Chocolat Brewery (Japan, malt, hops, sugars, cacao nibs, flavoring; 5% abv) Opaque dark brown, tan head, hazy but with red highlights. Cocoa aroma, chocolate taste with very little bitterness, very creamy texture. Good with chili spiced tortilla chips.

!!!!! Ezo Choco Bear Bitter (Oregon, USA; malt, hops, chocolate extract; 5% abv) Very dark brown, chocolate aroma, various bitter and roasty malts on parade, smooth texture, spikes of cocoa in flavor. Fades to hop bitterness in the end.

!!!!! Ezo Choco Bear Sweet (Oregon, USA; malt, hops, chocolate extract; 5% abv) Sweet milk chocolate aroma, spicy chocolate bar flavor as though hops were used. Bitterness has been reduced compared to years past. Very smooth texture with tiny bits of lingering sweetness.

!!!!! Bink Blonde (Belgium; malt and hops; 5.5% abv) Hazy dark blonde with thick white head. Heady aroma of aged hops, sweet malt and yeast. Strong flavor despite comparatively low alcohol. Heavy body, with a "bites back" flavor. Long, rich finish with delicate lingering bitterness.

!!!!! De Dolle Dulle Teve (Belgium; malt, hops and candi sugar; 10% abv) Hazy dark bronze, thick ivory head, brisk and clean hop aroma. Hint of molasses in the very rich malt body, comparatively low bitterness. Fine carbonation contributes to very creamy texture. Bitterness fades slowly, but lasts to the very end.

!!!!! Ao-oni (Karuizawa; malt and hops, 7% abv). This is an IPA from the brewery that makes Yona Yona ale. Bright bronze with high clarity, ivory head, and strong carbonation. Fruity aroma with spikes of strong hop notes, striking bitterness and strong hop flavor. Hops linger long in the rich, malty finish.

..........


All articles by Bryan Harrell unless noted.

Beer Here

Grande Biere at Roppongi Midtown

April 23 (6 - 8 pm), April 24 (1-5 pm) & April 25 (11-3 pm)

Some 60 beers from Japan and abroad will be served in unlimited 50 ml samples during the annual Grand Biere event at Roppongi Midtown. On the opening evening, the event is only two hours long, and tickets are 2,700 yen in advance and 3,100 yen at the door. On the following two days, the event is four hours long and tickets are 4,100 yen in advance and 4,500 yen at the door, with a food option available for 5,900 yen in advance only.

The food option includes 2,000 yen worth of food tickets for eats provided by the Dean & Deluca deli organization. For information on getting tickets in advance, go to the event website at http://www.beertaster.org/gb/ticket/10.htm You can also get advance tickets at several pubs listed on the site (scroll down).

Beers for Books

Since its founding by Gary Bremermann in February 2009, this organization has raised money for over 50,000 books for children around the world with limited access to educational resources. Events are held on a regular basis at locations in Japan and the U.S., with upcoming ones scheduled for April 24 in Niigata and April 25 in Yokohama at The Green Sheep. For more details on these events and for the organization in general, go to: www.beersforbooks.org

News

BEERS Meeting

BEERS will be having a meeting tomorrow night, 8 pm, at Bulldog in Ginza. The theme of the meeting will be "pale bottom fermenting German and Czech beers." For details on Bulldog, go to http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g074200/. BEERS stands for Beer Enjoyment, Education and Research Society, a Tokyo-based English-speaking beer club that usually meets on the third Tuesday of each month. If you are interested in attending one of the upcoming meetings, please write to Tim Eustace at tokyobeers (at) yahoo.co.jp.

New iPhone App

If you are a beer fan with an iPhone or iPod Touch, a new application has been written for you which helps you find craft beer in Japan. Best of all, it's free and you don't need to use overseas data roaming. Info on it is at http://beerinjapan.com/bij/app/

(Belgian) Beer Lovers Club

May 29 from 5 to 9 pm

This quarterly event is a great way to enjoy a good variety of Belgian beers at a reasonable price. It's held on the last Saturday of May, August, November and February at Bois Cereste, a Belgian beer specialty bar in Akasaka, and works like this. The 3,500 yen admission gets you ten tickets which you use for beer and food.

Most Belgian beers are just two tickets, which makes the beer at least 35% less expensive than normal. Plus, the atmosphere is warm and cozy. For a map and more info on Bois Cereste, go to www.bento.com/rev/0818.html. (Apologies for getting the date wrong in the previous edition of Brews News.)

Beer Talk

No Smoking Part II: Readers Reply

In the previous issue of Brews News, I wrote about a few pubs starting non-smoking policies. Two readers sent in some thoughtful and interesting replies.

"I wholly applaud the decisions by various beerpubs, and these days there are quite a few of them, to go non-smoking. A smoker who might attempt to light up at a wine tasting, or a regular wine bar, would be hummed out on his/her ear in a heartbeat because serious wine drinkers now that that to really appreciate the subtle nuances in flavor and aroma one needs an environment free of discordant contaminants. Beer is the same way and the Aoki-san/s of the world know this, despite being smokers themselves. You mentioned Bulldog having a no-smoking area. I attended the BEERS pub crawl at xmas and the second stop was Bulldog. Smoke permeates a room no matter if there is a non-smoking area and yes itdid take away from the experience. Plus, the sweatshirt I wore that night smelled like crap the next day. The funny thing is that even smokers know that they stink up a room but they will smoke if allowed. A poll was taken of smokers in Italy after that country went non-smoking and a majority of them supported the change because it made the dining experience (again, flavors and aromas) that much better." - Phil Jones

"Yes, smoking does bother me when I'm in a pub or restaurant, particularly the latter. Nowadays, in Tokyo at least, we are spoilt for choice with decent beer bars that adhere to a strict non-smoking policy. I have elected to vote with my pocket by supporting these bars over those that allow smoking. Nothing against smokers, I used to be one myself - we are worst breed when it comes to smoke sensitivity! Just as smokers have the right to smoke in places that allow it, publicans have the right to change their smoking policies as they see fit. I suspect we'll be a long time dead before the Japanese government ever abolish smoking in bars/restaurants, at least while ever they remain a majority shareholder in JT. The owner of Popeye is no fool when it comes to business and I doubt his bottom line will not suffer as a result of changing the smoking policy. Actually I bet his profits will increase. I know I'm not the only beer drinker who goes out of their way to avoid bars that allow smoking. The non-smoking movement in Japan is growing - only squeaky wheels get oiled. That's my five pennies worth. Thanks for listening." - John Wood

John also sent along some useful links:

http://beerinjapan.com/bij/1016/smoke-free-bars-in-japan/

http://www.kinen-style.com/

..........

We'd love your contribution, too, so send your story ideas (or story) to brewsnews "at" yahoo.com by Friday, May 21.



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