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Brews News Issue #103 - February/ March 2011

Six Pick

More Winter Craft Beers

Here are more craft beers ideal for the colder winter months. This means a fair number of heavy, dark beers. The Echigo Beers and Asahi Stout can be purchased at most Yamaya (www.yamaya.jp) locations, while the others can be purchased at Tanaka-ya in Mejiro.

!!!!! Echigo Pale Ale (Niigata Pref., all malt, 5.5% abv). Clear amber gold, ivory head. Brisk noble hop aroma (likely Saaz and/or Hallertauer), very rich and juicy malt flavor, backed by very clean hop bitterness. Lively hops give it a very fresh taste. Superbly balanced with a light, clean body. Overall, it has the delicacy of a fine German lager. On the whole, this beer has a very broad appeal, and is likely to be enjoyed by a wide variety of beer drinkers. Y280 at Yamaya.

!!!!! Minoh Imperial Stout (Osaka, all malt, 8.5% abv). Opaque black, with dark tan head. Deeply roasted malt aroma, little hop aroma. Rich big dark malt flavor, with some hop bitterness emerging later. Rich and smooth with a bitter espresso coffee-like bite at the end. The alcohol is not as apparent for such a strong beer, so care should be taken when drinking this beer. Enjoy only slightly chilled.

!!!!! Shonan Beer Imperial Stout (Kanagawa Pref., all malt, 7.5% abv) Opaque black with a brown head. Rich, roasted malt aroma. Sharp tart flavor with literally mouth-watering dark roasted malt bitterness. Some minimal sweetness emerges as it warms, which amplifies the roasted malt flavors, yet overall it is balanced by moderate hop bitterness. This leads to a long finish marked by some tartness and rich roasted malt flavors.

!!!! Swan Lake Porter (Niigata Pref., all malt, 6% abv) Very dark opaque brown, thick light tan head. Roasty malt richness is matched by a touch of tartness. Medium-long finish with lingering dark malt flavors and some hop bitterness. Surprisingly smooth for such a richly flavored brew.

!!!! Asahi Stout (malt, hops, sugars; 8% abv) Opaque very dark brown, light brown head. Dark roast malt aroma with some sweetness in the background. Very smooth texture featuring the flavor of dark roasted malt, sweet coffee and a hint of dark chocolate. This parade of flavor is followed by a touch of bitterness, but little hop aroma. With the recent discontinuation of the original Kirin Stout (8% abv), the hard-to-find Asahi Stout is the only remaining beer of its kind from a major Japanese brewer. Give it a try, it is quite a surprise and a world apart from Super Dry.

!!!! Echigo Red Ale (Niigata Pref., all malt, 5.5% abv). Reddish amber, light tan head, fine brisk hoppy aroma backed by sweet slightly tart malt aroma. Flavor leans toward hop bitterness, balanced lightly with rich malt flavor. The taste gets bolder as it warms. Nice interplay of hops and malt, leading to a medium-long finish. Y280 at Yamaya

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.

Beer There

Autumn Beers Style Showcase: "Falling for Brew"

Baird Nakameguro Taproom

Held on November 14 last year, this event drew well over fifty ale enthusiasts who enjoyed the eleven ales served. Baird staffer Marco McFarren talked about the impressive selection of suds, including three pumpkin ales, two lagers, three scotch ales, two strong ales, and a light version of a strong ale.

Plus, participants were given tasty previews of food now being served at Baird's BBQ Taproom in Bashamichi, Yokohama. All in all, it was a great bargain for only Y3,200, and made even more enjoyable by Marco's informative presentation.

Beer Talk

Beers for Books Passes 100,000 Mark

By Gary Bremermann

Brews News kindly reported on Beers for Books www.beersforbooks.org in the March/April 2009 issue, just as "B4B" was launched. At the time it was just an idea and I had no clue how it would be received and what would happen from there.

It all started with the question "What if you could drink a beer and a kid got a book in a place like Cambodia?"

The concept was simple: you'd find a friendly bar or restaurant (anyone can do it), ask them to donate Y100 for every drink sold on a specific night, then invite all your friends and have a good time. For every Y100 donated, Room to Read www.roomtoread.org would deliver a high-quality local language book to kids in eight developing countries (Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Bangladesh, and South Africa).

It turns out that people who like to drink socially also have big hearts and loved the idea. In less than two years we've funded over 100,000 books and the idea, born in Tokyo, has spread to five more countries that have hosted events (U.S., Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Hong Kong/PRC).

The craft beer community has been especially supportive as we find that bars selling craft beers have taken a strong interest in what Beers for Books is all about-enjoying tasty beers with good friends for a great cause.

There's always something going on with B4B in Tokyo/Kanagawa. On February 10 we'll be at the recently opened BierVana (www.biervana.org). All events are listed on the Beers for Books website and everyone is welcome.

If you like the idea and want to organize your own event, I'm always happy to help support you. Feel free to get in touch with me at gary@robertleonard.jp.


All articles by Bryan Harrell unless noted.

Beer Here

Tokyo Real Ale Fest

Sunday, February 13, 2011
noon - 4pm
Sumida Riverside Hall

This year marks the ninth Tokyo Real Ale Fest, and it promises to be an even better event this year thanks to beer quality that has improved steadily over the years. This year, there will be five new breweries for a total of 27, with over thirty varieties of beer on offer.

As in years past, the event will be held at the Sumida Riverside Hall, just behind Asahi Beer headquarters across the Azumabashi bridge from Asakusa station. (For a detailed map, see www.TokyoRealAle.org/pc/access.php)

Admission is Y3,500, which includes ten tasting (120 ml) tickets and a commemorative tasting glass. Extra tickets are available for Y250 each. Snacks may be purchased at the event, or brought in by yourself.

Note that no tickets will be available on the day of the event, so they must be purchased in advance. The best way to do that is to get them at one of the pubs offering TRAF tickets. For a list of those pubs, go to http://www.tokyorealale.org/pc/ticketlist.php

For more details on the event, go to www.TokyoRealAle.org

Baird Big Winter Beer Weekend

Friday, February 11 to Sunday, February 13
Nakameguro Taproom

Baird Brewing will be serving a wide variety of big winter beers at their Nakameguro Taproom over the three-day weekend. In addition, plans are to serve strong ales from other Japanese brewers and American microbrewers. While full details haven't been released, you can check out their website for new developments at www.bairdbeer.com .

Whisky Live to Feature Craft Ales

February 19 - 20, 2001 / 11 am - 6 pm
Tokyo Midtown Hall
Y5,000 one day / Y9,000 both days

This year the Whisky Live event moves to Tokyo Midtown, with an expanded selection of craft ales from Scotland and Japan. The event is Japan's premier showcase for any and all things whiskey, with the added benefit of an interesting selection of craft ales. For details, see their website (English and Japanese) at www.whiskylivejapan.com

"Beer School" at Kimono Wine Bar

Saturday, February 26 from 4 - 6 pm

I will be giving a basic "beer school" presentation on craft beer on Saturday, February 26 at the Kimono Wine Bar in Nogizaka, Tokyo. The Y4,500 fee will include all beer along with light snacks.

The focus will be on winter beers, and will include a small range of dark beers, including an amazing 8% stout. Reservations are required, and can be made by contacting Lauren Shannon at (03) 6438-1685 or lauren@kimonowinebar.com

Yokohama Beer "24 Beer Festival"

March 12-13 weekend
Noon to 8 pm each day
Yokohama Brewery

In addition to the six beers offered on a regular basis by Yokohama Brewery, some eighteen different specialty beers will also be offered at an upcoming "24 Beer Festival" being held at the brewery near Sakuragicho station in Yokohama. (For information and a map, go to http://www.yokohamabeer.com/restaurant/english.htm )

Admission is only Y2,000, and includes ten tickets for 130 ml pours of beer. For more details, give them a call at 045-640-0271 or send an email to brewery@yokohamabeer.com


BEERS Meeting

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. The schedule for upcoming meetings has yet to be released, but if you would like to attend, please send an email to Tim Eustace - tokyobeers (at) yahoo.co.jp .

Belgian Beer Lovers Club

Saturday, February 26
Bois Cereste in Akasaka, Tokyo

Held four times a year, this event offers remarkable savings on Belgian beers in the cozy, comfortable atmosphere of Bois Cereste in Akasaka. The next event is slated for Saturday, February 26 from 5 pm. The Y3,500 admission gets you ten tickets, and most Belgian beers require only two tickets, representing a significant savings over regular prices.

You may also use the tickets for food - just one ticket for fried potatoes, for example.
Map . Review


Special thanks this issue to Gary Bremermann for his contribution and his valuable work in BeersForBooks. We'd love your contribution, too, so send your story ideas (or story) to brewsnews "at" yahoo.com by Friday, March 26.

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