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.
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.