Japanese Craft Beer Week!

3/22/2010: This week I will be drinking all craft beer straight form the Land of the Rising Sun. The beer was sent to me directly by Daniel @How to Japanese. I have always been interested in Japanese/Asian culture; martial arts (I’m a second degree black-belt in Tang Soo Do), sushi, their goofy TV shows, their cars (I used to have a sooped up Acura RSX, click here for a picture), and the list goes on. But I never knew that they had a craft beer scene at all, let alone a pretty good one. From what Dan tells me craft beer is really starting to boom in Japan.

A big thanks again to Dan as I am sure it was not cheap sending this to the states straight from Japan. I will really have to take good notes on these since there are two or three that aren’t even on beeradvocate.com. I put pasted a brief description (supplied by Dan) of each one of the beers below.

Yona Yona – Ao-oni IPA

This beer is fairly regularly available. I bought this one at a special grocery store about 15 minutes walk from my house. The other beers above I bought at a beer shop about half hour away by train. I guess this is a relatively reserved IPA by US standards, but very drinkable and just solid. The name means “Blue Demon.”

Baird Beer – Dark Sky Imperial Stout

The most “American” of the beers included. I think Baird’s been brewing it for a couple of years, but it’s still relatively new. It’s seasonal and not one of his regular lineup, which you can tell because of the bomber size. The regular lineup comes in 12oz bottles and not bombers.

Tamamura Honten – Takashi Imperial Stout

This is made by the same company as the Shiga Kogen lineup of beers. I like the Shiga Kogen IPA as well as the Miyama Blonde but included this because you’re a stout fan. I’ve had this beer only once and it was a while back, so I can’t say anything specific about it. Hopefully a decent beer.

Fujizakura – Chocolate Wheat

I wanted to send one of Fujizakura’s Rauchbiers. Either the regular Rauch or the Rauchbock, but they were out when I went to the store. Fujizakura makes an excellent lineup of German beers, all of which are really solid, so this beer should be decent if nothing else. One of my top 2-3 favorite breweries in Japan. It’s also an example of how Japan likes to do “chocolate” themed stuff for Valentine’s Day. Limited edition and pretty rare I’d say, even in Japan.

Sapporo – Chocolat Brewery

ROYCE is a famous chocolate company up in Hokkaido, which is where Sapporo is based. This beer is a travesty, but I include it to show you how easily duped the consumers are here. Most of the breweries in Japan have a normal 100% malt beer that is very decent and drinkable – just a basic lager. Then they have a cheaper “happoshu,” which isn’t technically beer by Japanese legal standards…more like a light beer or a malt liquor, but a lager just the same. Then they have these silly special edition beers. This one includes “cocoa nibs.” It’s regularly available at most grocery stores and convenience stores, but will probably disappear after Valentine’s Day.

Published in: on March 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm  Comments (17)  
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Beer 133/365 – Victory Smokin Oats Porter

Style: Smoked Beer

ABV: 5.8%

Purchased at: Victory Brewing – Downingtown PA

What makes this beer different: Smokiest beer I have ever had

Will I be drinking this again: Probably not, only because you are only able to get it at the brewery.

Grade: B+

3/21/2010: Ughhhhh still hungover from beerfest yesterday. Lost count of how many 2-3oz samples I tried, but it was a lot. I usually don’t get hungover unless I start mixing styles back and forth, and I made that mistake. Should have started with pale ales and worked up to stouts. Anyways on our trip back we needed to find a place for me to have my beer a day, our first choice was Troegs in Harrisburg but they were closed on Sundays, so we looked around on the blackberry and found out that Victory was open.

Wow I am glad we ended up here because this place is AWESOME. Huge bar/restaurant in the weirdest location. It’s in a working class suburb, but within a corporate park type of setting. I want to say they had 20 of their beers on tap, and they had this crazy growler fill system that would fill a growler with any of their 20 beers. Didn’t get to ask the bartender the specifics of the contraption but it looked like it was from the 22nd century.

As always I like to try stuff at breweries that I normally could not get in a bottle, so I went for the Smokin Oats Porter (only one review on BA). The smell is smokey as hell with some coffee notes. Taste is meatlike smoke all over the place. Way too much for a first sip. About halfway down it mellowed out and some coffee started to lend support. If it tasted like this the entire way through I would have given it an A, or if I was eating a steak with the beer. Mouthfeel was average with moderate amounts of carbonation. Overall pretty decent but wish there wasn’t soooo much smoke flavor right off the bat.

Picture of the day: Jesus man change your shirt.

Published in: on March 21, 2010 at 9:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Beer 132/365 – Harviestoun Old Engine Oil

Style: Old Ale

ABV: 6.0%

Purchased at: Monks Cafe – Philadelphia PA

What makes this beer different: Very smooth for the style

Will I be drinking this again: Yes

Grade: A-

3/20/2010: This weekend is the big celebration of the suds in Atlantic City NJ. Hotels are super expensive in AC so the girlfriend and I got one in Philly. I have always heard good things about Monk’s cafe so we decided to give it a shot. Gotta be honest I wasn’t sure impressed. Sure they had a lot of hard to find bottles, but it was super pricey and they only had 6 taps there. Not sure about you guys but I like to have a good amount of choices on draft when I am at a beer bar.

When I went to buy the Old Engine Oil the bartender said that this was served at room temp. I have never had a beer at room temp so I figured I would give it a shot. Also note that it was actually kind of warm in the bar so it was probably warmer than normal. Surprisingly it was very drinkable at room temp. Not sure if it was due to the temp but there was almost no smell to it at all. The taste/mouthfeel reminds me of an English Porter. Sweet chocolate malt, with a bit of bitter in the aftertaste. Honestly its odd but its harder to pick out flavors with a beer at this temperature. Mouthfeel is a little light but good. If you have never tried a beer at room temp, give it a shot with this one. Its weird at first but once you take a few sips its no big deal.

Picture of the day: What exactly does this sign mean?

Published in: on March 20, 2010 at 8:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Beer 131/365 – Three Floyds Alpha King

Style: American Pale Ale

ABV: 6.0%

Purchased at: Received in a trade

What makes this beer different: A lot of punch for a pale ale

Will I be drinking this again: Yes

Grade: A

3/19/2010: Still haven’t had a beer from three floyds that I didn’t like. Therefore I was pretty pumped when I got this bottle in that super bowl poll that I recently won. I actually had two sent to me! Oh and don’t mind the pint glass… it had a label on the back so thats why the top looks dark.

Alpha King smells pretty hoppy, mostly citrus. The flavor is really really good, citrus hops are the dominant flavor, with some caramel malt right behind it. A good bit hoppier than your average pale ale. Orange/tangerine flavor it what to me makes Alpha King different for the style. Mouthfeel is actually a bit lighter than my brain is telling me it should be. I really need to make a trip out to this brewery ASAP. I wish I could go for Dark Lord day buttttt The Big Tap In is that day!

Picture of the day: Anyone need a ride?

Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 8:13 am  Comments (4)  
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Beer 130/365 -Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Style: Imperial Stout

ABV: 11.2%

Purchased at: Given to me by Andy

What makes this beer different: So complex, and perfectly boozy

Will I be drinking this again: Yes yes yes

Grade: A+

3/18/2010: Another beer given to me by Andy from Michigan. This bottle is a 2009 so it has already been aged a year, well two including the one that it is aged before it is even put onto shelves. So pumped to try this because as I’m sure a lot of you know Imperial Stouts are my go to. Thanks again Andy!

KBS smells mostly like roasted coffee, with some bourbon and chocolate hints. The first sip can only be described as “wow.” So many flavors going on, all are very strong but in perfect balance. A lot of coffee/chocolate flavor, followed by bourbon and some woody notes. As I get to the bottom I am starting to get some vanilla as well. Some nice hop presence also. Very boozy but in a good way. Similar to that feeling you get after a long week at work and you drink a strong jack and coke. Mouthfeel was not quite as thick as I expected, but still on the thick side of average. This doesn’t quite uproot Speedway Stout from my #1 stout spot, but it came very close. If you are a beer lover I am sure I don’t need to tell you to buy this if you see it.

Picture of the day: I would love to know what this cat is looking at.

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 8:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Beer 129/365 – Dark Horse Too Cream Stout

Style: Milk Stout

ABV: 8.0%

Purchased at: Siciliano’s Market – Grand Rapids MI

What makes this beer different: Strong for a Milk Stout but hides the ABV Extremely well.

Will I be drinking this again: If I can find it in the Pgh area

Grade: A-

3/17/2010: Its been a while since I have had a stout, so time to go back to my conmfort zone. This is the third of the “fore” series of stouts by Dark Horse that I am trying. The smoked and blueberry stouts were both great beers, so hoping this one is also.

Smell is a ton of roasted coffee, with some dark malt scent. Tons and tons of flavor for a beer with a low/mid mouthfeel. Coffee is top of the list, followed by a solid lactic (milk) sweetness, ending with a dry hop flavor. So much flavor, my brain keeps telling me this beer should be thicker but I think thats why its so good. I also had no clue this was an 8.0% ABV beer, I would have guessed no more than a 6. No sign of the alcohol at all. If you see this on the shelves grab a couple.

Picture of the day: ****NOT SAFE FOR WORK**** Also not a picture, if you guys haven’t read it yet, check out the texts that Tiger sent to one of his mistresses.

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 8:36 am  Comments (5)  
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Beer 128/365 – Bell’s Consecrator Dopplebock

Style: Dopplebock

ABV: 8.0%

Purchased at: Vintage Estate – Boardman OH

What makes this beer different: A hint of barleywine flavor to this bad boy (strong)

Will I be drinking this again: Maybe? Depends what else I have to choose from that day

Grade: B+

3/16/2010: I am a sucker for a good dopplebock, and have yet to try Bell’s Consecrator. To be honest other than Hopslam, there aren’t any beers that Bell’s makes that I go out of my way to find. I sampled batch 9000 and it was good, but it needs some age to it.

Its weird, Consecrator has little to no smell at all… A little bit of malt and booze, but thats it. This is very sweet, a lot of molasses, dark rum type flavor (where the barleywineishness kicks in, and yes thats a word), with a decent hop profile. I’m also getting a bit of butterscotch flavor the closer I get to the bottom. A good amount of carbonation, which helps mask the alcohol just enough for it to be very drinkable.

Picture of the day: Remember fellas, ladies like a little foreplay.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 8:34 am  Comments (1)  
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Beer 127/365 – Shipyard Prelude Special Ale

Style: Winter Warmer

ABV: 6.8%

Purchased at: Received in a trade with jlindros @ beeradvocate

What makes this beer different: Typical Winter Warmer styled beer

Will I be drinking this again: hmmm not sure really hah

Grade: B

3/15/2010: Received this one from Jared at Beeradvocate. We traded about 30 beers back and forth earlier in the year. Finally getting through my stash from him haha.

The smell is very Christmasy. Caramel malts and winter warmer spices you usually get with these sorts of beers. Lots of caramel malt in the flavor. A bit of cinnamon/brown sugar taste, with a hint of non-descript spice. The one thing that doesn’t sit right with me is the sharp boozy punch you get. I don’t mind strong, but this one kind of stabs your tongue just real quick. Mouthfeel is nice, syrupy with good carbonation. Overall a pretty decent beer, just wouldn’t go out of my way to drink again

Picture of the day: I give you.. Irony Man!

Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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Beer 126/365 – Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

ABV: 7.2%

Purchased at: Another beer on the house from stillcrazyafterallthesebeers.com

What makes this beer different: Very flat for a belgian style beer

Will I be drinking this again: Probably not

Grade: B

3/14/2010: Thanks again to Gary and Guy from SCAATB for this one. I will actually be heading out their way this weekend for Celebration of the Suds.

Flying Fish Grand Cru has a nice spicy smell, with some Belgian yeast. The taste is what i would call “spicy.” A lot of pepper, some clove and some tartness going on. The reason I love belgian beers is largely because of the mouthfeel, but Grand Cru fell way short in that area. There was little to no carbonation going on, and you can even see in the picture it doesn’t have the fluffy head that is typical of a Belgian beer. The flavor was a little above average, but the lack of carbonation really dropped the grade on this one. Maybe it was just a bad batch?

Picture of the day: Now this is witty. Copy and Paste.

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 9:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Beer 125/365 – Wexford Irish Creme Ale

Style: Irish Red Ale

ABV: 5.0%

Purchased at: Vintage Estate – Boardman Ohio

What makes this beer different: Tastes like caramel syrup mixed with soda water

Will I be drinking this again: No way

Grade: C-

3/13/2010: Happy St Patty’s day! Picked this one up last time I visited VE. Figured it would be a cool beer to try for St Patty’s. Plus Nitro Cans are pretty nifty little contraptions. I would say about 95% of the beer I buy now, I usually have a good idea about the reputation of the brewery or quality of the actual beer itself before purchasing. I know sounds crazy to some, but I figure if I am going to put all this time, money and effort into this 365 beer project I might as well make sure the beer I am buying is good. Well this was a case where I never heard of the beer, and was pulled in by the fancy looking can. Never judge a beer by its label.

The pour was very nice, similar to how a Guinness with the “upside-down waterfall effect.” The first 2/3 ounces actually poured out just like half and half, then jumped right into a copper color. The smell is caramel malt and some lactose type smell. The taste is mostly caramel malt, but it is very watered down. Then the aftertaste brings a sharp metallic/mineral type of flavor that just totally kills the beer. Cara disliked hers so much she couldn’t even finish it. Avoid this beer!

Picture of the day: One of my favorite video games of all time, but these guys have way too much time on their hands.

Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm  Comments (1)  
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