Brews News Issue 20 -- June 2000
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Welcome back to Brews News after a long absence. My regular work has been hectic since the beginning of the year, and I have also been busy putting Brews News up on i-mode, the new "Internet" for cell phones in Japan.

Since I have a lot of catching up to do, this Brews News will be longer than average. Here's what's in store for this issue:

  • Discount Prices on Rogue Ale
  • Special Offer on Red Seal Ale and Scrimshaw Pilsener from North Coast Brewing
  • Summer Beer Events
  • New Beer Places
  • The Beer Reviews
  • Odds & Ends

Discount Prices on Rogue Ales

Phred Kaufman, purveyor of Ezo Beers brewed by Rogue of Newport, Oregon is making another special offer to Brews News readers. He received a shipment of beer which was mis-labeled for "best-by" dates, and rather than attempt to re-label them, he is offering them at discount, along with some other beers that are close to their "best-by" dates. They are:
  • White Crane (Rogue Golden Bitter), best by September, but labeled as July
  • Red Fox (St. Rogue Red), best by September, but labeled as July
  • Noboribetsu Valley of Hell Beer (Rogue Smoke Beer), best by September but labeled as July. A very interesting beer made with smoked malt
  • Birra Roma Oregano Beer, best by June The beer contains hops and oregano, which are both natural preservatives, so this beer will be good for a long time. (Note from Bryan: I recently drank a Birra Roma dated Dec. 99 and it was great.)
  • Hasscup Ale, best by June. Hascupp is a tart berry only found in Hokkaido and parts of Siberia)
  • Rogue Honey Cream Ale, best by September
SPECIAL BONUS: Upon request, one bottle will be replaced with a sample of Phred's Phucken Bitter Beer. (See this awesome brew in Beer Reviews below.)

Phred is offering these at the following low prices:
1 case: 7,000 yen (Y292 / bottle)
2 cases: 12,000 yen (Y250 / bottle)
3 cases: 15,000 yen (Y208 / bottle)
Please add 5% sales Tax
Mixed cases are also possible - contact Phred directly for details.
Best of all - FREE DELIVERY!

All other beers can be ordered for a 10% Discount at Y333/bottle (normally Y370)
  • Brown Beer (Rogue Shakespeare Stout)
  • Buckwheat ale (Soba Beer)
  • Chocolate stout
  • Phred's Phucken Bitter Beer (Rogue Brutal Bitter)

1) Place your order by e-mail ( or fax (011-614-0191)
2) Send payment by bank transfer to:
Hokkaido Ginko Tsukisamu-Shiten Futsu 0781130
Yugengaisha Yamaka Kobayashi Shoten

You may also send the money via the post office to:
Yugengaisha Yamaka Kobayashi Shoten
Nishioka 4-jo, 1-chome 13-5
Toyohira-ku, Sapporo 062-0034
Phone 011-851-6828

When the payment is received, your beer will be shipped. Offer good while supplies last,


Special Offer on Red Seal Ale and Scrimshaw Pilsener from North Coast Brewing

These beers have recently been imported by Tengu Foods, the natural foods mailorder people. Normally priced at Y380/bottle, they are now being offered by the case (24) at Y340/bottle with FREE SHIPPING. The freshness is awesome, but only two types are available now:

  • Red Seal Ale - Copper-colored India Pale Ale, with a tangy and complex malt flavor, generous hop bitterness, and a clean, brisk finish.
  • Scrimshaw Pilsener - Medium yellow light ale, refreshingly dry taste with moderate bitterness. Looks and tastes like a fine German lager.
Both have won several awards in U.S. craft beer competitions. Order by the case, for only Y8,160 and get free shipping. Each case includes four 6-packs, and you can mix and match the two beers as you like. Note that the regular price is Y9,120/case + Y780 shipping), so you save Y1,740. You may also order this beer by the 6-pack; phone Tengu for details.

Tengu Foods: 0429-85-8751, or e-mail
Or visit their website at


Summer Beer Events

Japan Beer Festival 2000
Saturday July 15 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. & Sunday July 16 11:00 to 7 p.m.
Tokyo, Otemachi JA Bldg. 8F
(The JA Bldg. is above exit A3 in Otemachi subway station)

Craft beer from both Japan and abroad will be served freely during this festival. Admission is Y3,500 at the door, but tickets may be purchased in advance for Y3,200 at Ticket Pia, and at Lawson and Family Mart convenience stores. At the event, judging for Japan's entries into the World Beer Cup 2000 will also take place, with the results announced at 6 p.m. on July 16th.

Tokyo Craft Beer Festival 2000
July 20 - 22
Sunstreet at Kameido Station in Tokyo

International Beer Summit in Osaka
October 6 - 8
Osaka Umeda Sky Bldg.

For more details on these events, check the Japan Craft Beer Assn website as the event nears. (No further details as of May 29.)


New Beer Places

FRIGO - Shinjuku South

A spinoff of the popular Belgo in Shibuya, Frigo is about 50% larger with a beer selection to match. While all your Belgian favorites are there, Frigo has a particularly enhanced selection of unusual German beers, most of them recently imported. Food is about the same as Shibuya, as are all prices and the "cash-on-delivery" system. The single-level layout, however, doesn't have all the intimacy that Belgo offers, although there is a small room that can be taken over by a group of four to six drinkers. What I like best about these places is the large refrigerated cases where you can inspect all beers first-hand before choosing to assure yourself of getting a beer that is not beyond its freshness date. Frigo is out the south exit of Shinjuku Station - turn right and head down the left side of Koshu-kaido. Frigo is in a basement about five minutes away - look for the sandwich-board sign. 2-11-20 B1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo / phone 5371-0666 Check out their website at


Bistro La Verdure - Yoyogi Uehara

Bright and cheerful little French cafe with Hoegaarden White on tap, and a handful of well selected Belgian Ales such as Duvel, Maredsous and Orval at average prices. They seem to close about 10 p.m., but if you're out early in the area, it's certainly worth a visit. Just up the hill from the bookstore under the tracks at one end of Yoyogi Uehara station. La Verdure, 1-36-14 Uehara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, phone 5465-0719.


Bull's Brewpub - Machida

Quite a nice U.S.-sized brewery restaurant that makes clean, well-crafted brews they call Zokkon Machida Beer. The Pils is one of the better Japanese craft versions I've had, while the Weizen has the true yeast for that "cloves and bananas" aroma and taste. The Dunkel is roasty yet subdued with a soft mouthfeel, while the specialty beer this spring, Gluck, was a tangy, fruity serious brown ale with a lot of complexity. Best of all, prices are reasonable at Y380 for a small glass and Y600 for a large, and a Y700 tasting set with three beers of your choice. The menu is Japanized U.S. brewpub food, with wonderful indications on many items showing which beer is recommended with the food. Friendly and attentive service. Live music weekly in a variety of styles. Their standard beer versions are also available in bottles to go, though it's a bit steep at Y2,610 a six pack; drinking it there is a better deal. A bit far for those living in central Tokyo, though it's only about half an hour from Shinjuku by Odakyu Line express to Machida station. Not far from the Odakyu tracks in the Shinjuku direction, a few blocks from the east exit of Machida station. Open weekdays 11:30 - 2:00 and 5:00 - 10:30, weekends and holidays 11:30 - 10:30. Bull's Brewery Restaurant / Machida Beer 6-28-19 Haramachida, Machida / 042-732-1918


M's Beer - Suitengumae

Now this is really an unusual place. They serve Japanese craft beer from a variety of breweries, but don't really advertise who they are. It's all supposed to be "M's Beer." Oh well, you certainly can't argue with the price. Your first beer is only Y100, and after that it's Y340 (M) or Y460 (L), with pitchers at Y1,130. Plus, if you arrive before 6 p.m. all beer is discounted Y100 yen. Saturday is "Ladies Day" with all drinks half-price for women. The food is also very inexpensive, but it's nothing really special, just snacks and "beer garden" food. The interior decor is rudimentary, and doesn't really invite a long, comfortable stay. The "Kolsch" (Loco Beer of Chiba) was a very clean pale yellow, with nicely subdued fine carbonation and a clean finish with dried fruit notes. The "Dorafuto" (M's Beer of Osaka) was deep yellow with a Cascade hop aroma, fine carbonation, a rich and creamy head and a somewhat "malt extract" tang, though the finish was clean. The "Stout" (M's Beer of Osaka) was a totally opaque black, with a thick tan head and a good hop aroma (Fuggles?). Sort of a fermented grain flavor with hints of soy sauce, backed by a tangy richness, leading to a clean finish. Seems like all the M's Beer types have a clean finish - I suppose that's a requirement. They are not particularly outstanding, but a better alternative to mass produced beer. If you're in the area, this place is definitely worth checking out. It's about a block from the police box above Suitengumae Station on the Hanzomon Line, near Tokyo City Air Terminal. Open from 4 p.m. to midnight. 2-5-6 Nihonbashi Kakigara-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, phone 5649-2577


Kranz - Akasaka

Another place in Akasaka to drink Belgian beer. This place is essentially a coffee shop serving sandwiches, but has a selection of about 15 imported beers, mostly Belgian. Prices are reasonable, but the atmosphere is a bit too sterile for a nice evening of good beer. Still, though, it's handy for a good beer and a quick snack. Kranz, Mitoko Bldg. 1F, 6-2-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, phone 3585-5205


Cozy - Higashi Kitazawa

The sadly missed Kaiseitei East used to be in this location, but now occupying the space is Cozy, a trendy cocktail bar that for some inexplicable reason has Hoegaarden White (Y800) on draft, along with a selection of Belgian beers at moderate prices, like Chimay Red at Y1000 and Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit at Y800. The special "om-rice" is the house specialty. Open every day from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. It's right in front of Higashi Kitazawa station on the Odakyu line. New Island Bldg. 2F, 3-1-10 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, phone 5453-3298


Cafe Rodney - Omotesando

This trendy little place just opened, and features the cartoonish art of Rodney Allen Greenblatt. With the bright colored everything and cheerful cartoon faces, you'll think you've entered PeeWee's Playhouse. Bagel sandwiches and other light "New Yorkish" food served. What I found most interesting was the beer selection: just four: Hoegaarden White and Bass Pale Ale on tap (Y800), and Brooklyn Lager and Anchor Porter in bottles (Y1,000). Apparently, someone really knows their beer - I was impressed. Amazing for a place that seems to cater to kids not old enough to drink. Great place for all you old lechers with young dates. For everyone else, definitely worth a look. One block behind Royal Host, which is a block off of Omote-sando street opposite the Hanae Mori Bldg. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Cafe Rodney 4-4-16 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, phone 5772-3866. Website at

The BEER Ratings

! ! ! ! ! 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.

! ! ! ! ! Exceptional, among the best of its type in the world.

    Hobgoblin (Wychwood Brewery, England) A beautiful deep reddish amber ale with tan head, toffee-chocolate aroma. Very complex and rich flavors considering the body isn't that heavy. Delicious malt interplay with delightfully spicy hop backbone, and a pleasing finish that fades slowly. A thoroughly excellent brew made by very serious brewers. Don't miss having this one. 5.5% alcohol. Attractive clear 500 ml bottle, available at the Fiddler (Takadanobaba), Mad Mulligan's (Kamiyacho), and the Warrior Celt (Ueno) for around Y1,000. Also sold at National Azabu Supermarket. More information from the importer, Micro Imports, at

    Phred's Phucken Bitter Beer - Produced by Rogue Brewing of Newport, Oregon as their Brutal Bitter, this astonishingly hoppy beer has been relabeled (REALLY relabeled) for Phred's Ezo Beer line. What you can expect from this light brown beer, in a word, are HOPS. A virtual explosion of herbal hoppy bitterness scours your mouth and leaves your breathless, while the strong, complex malt flavors come in and revive you. This is one powerful beer, and not for the faint of heart. I highly recommend it for spicy foods - the intense flavor stands up to even the hottest chili or curry. Phred is offering samples to those who purchase his beers; see above.

    Red Seal Ale (North Coast Brewing, California) - This is a toned down, more civilized version of the PPBB reviewed above. It's essentially a nice amber ale with a brilliant balance of complex malt and beautiful Cascade hops. Quite refreshing cold, and very satisfying at warmer temperatures. Available at a special introductory price only from Tengu Foods; see above.

! ! ! ! - Highly recommended, without hesitation or fine print.

    Abbaye de St. Landelin Tripel Brune (Brasseurs de Gayant, France) - This representation of a Trappist Ale (though not authentic) is deep reddish brown (almost black) with a dense head, sweet fruity aroma, with alcohol apparent. Tartness balances nicely with the sweetness, though flavor is far less complex than others in this style. Sweet caramel flavor with "dark bread" texture, lingering dry fruit finish with vinuous sherry notes. Made with Malt, hops, wheat, and flavors; 8% alcohol. 330 ml bottle only Y198 at Yamaya in Shinjuku.

    Anchor "Our Special Ale" 1999 (Anchor Brewing, San Francisco). Intensely deep reddish amber that appears almost black, with a tight tan head. Slightly astringent roasted malt aroma with little hops present. Sweet murky spices such as (probably) nutmet and allspice are initially prevalent, followed by smooth roasted malt flavors balanced by some hop bitterness. Drink only slightly chilled to enjoy a more complete flavor; if it is too cold, the sweetness doesn't come through to complement the spices.

    Corn Circle (Wychwood Brewery, England) Yellow gold ale made with organically grown barley from the Prince of Wales Duchy Estate. Crisp citrus aroma and highly refreshing malt flavor with a quickly fading sweetness, with glorious bitterness from the Target hops, also naturally grown. Overall a very smooth and crisp beer, making it one of those rare English ales that is perfect for a hot summer day. Attractive clear 500 ml bottle, available at the Fiddler (Takadanobaba), Mad Mulligan's (Kamiyacho), and the Warrior Celt (Ueno) for around Y1,000. Also sold at National Azabu Supermarket. More information from the importer, Micro Imports, at

    Fiddler's Elbow (Wychwood Brewery, England) Almost five stars, but not quite. Delightful pale amber ale with a funky hop aroma (Styrian Goldings) and a juicy malt balanced by citrusy tartness for a quenching finish with lingering hops and fruit notes. A good balance of rich flavors and refreshment. 5.2% alcohol. Attractive clear 500 ml bottle, available at the Fiddler (Takadanobaba), Mad Mulligan's (Kamiyacho), and the Warrior Celt (Ueno) for around Y1,000. Also sold at National Azabu Supermarket. More information from the importer, Micro Imports, at

    Oh! La! Ho! Amber Ale (Tobu-machi Brewing, Nagano) - Clear reddish amber, with a creamy mouthfeel and clean malty taste with toffee/caramel highlights. Faint tartness balances nicely with the faint sweetness. Tangy finish that faintly lingers, and it's here where the hops are apparent. Quite good cold, but let it warm slightly for richer flavor. All malt, 5% alcohol.

    Oh! La! Ho! Golden Ale (Tobu-machi Brewing, Nagano) - Golden yellow, with dense creamy white head. Lovely fruity malt aroma with floral hop notes. Crisp fine carbonation. Initial sweetness quickly fading to a long hop-dominated finish. More refreshing than many lagers, with a nice richness that is not cloying or heavy. Great balance, very well crafted. All malt, 5% alcohol.

    Robertus Double Malt Ale (Christoffel Breweries, Holland) Hazy orange amber, generous light tan head, with dry and "meaty" malt aroma tinged with tartness. Surprisingly light malt flavor with hops in the background, and accented by various sour notes. Dry quenching finish with hops predominant. All malt, 6% alcohol. Y330 at Kawachiya in Shibuya.

    Scrimshaw Pilsener (North Coast Brewing, California) - Actually this is a cream ale, not a true pilsner, but has been brewed and lagered for a nice crisp and dry finish. Nice yellow color makes it look like an "ordinary" beer, but your guests will be surprised by its lightly fruity flavors and zingy dry finish. Great tasting cold. Available at a special introductory price only from Tengu Foods; see above.

    Taboe tabaksbier (Christoffel Breweries, Holland) Yes, you guessed right - this one has tobacco extract in it. Save the jokes for later and drink one first. Hazy orange amber, rich ivory head, earthy "gueuze" aroma with meaty yeastiness. Very soft mouthfeel with tangy, juicy malt flavor backed by a slightly astringent bitterness. No perceptible tobacco taste, but there is "something" in there and it is very interesting and delicious. Medium body with well-balanced flavors and fine, smooth carbonation. 6.5% alcohol, no details on ingredients marked. Y358 at Kawachiya in Shibuya.

    TY Harbor Pale Ale (TY Harbor Brewery Restaurant, Tokyo) Deep gold color with a honeyish aroma and brisk herbal hop counterpoint. Lush creamy mouthfeel, spicy honey-like malt flavor with a crisp quenching finish brought on by Cascade hop bitterness. Certainly in the U.S. West Coast style, but a but softer and quickly fading bitterness. To go in bottled form as TY2K Extra Pale Ale.

    Yatsugatake Touchdown Frontier Dunkel (Kiyosato Yatsugatake Brewery in Nagano; phone 0551-48-2521) - Orange amber with a clean fruity aroma. Very clean taste with good balance of fruity malt and soft hop bitterness. Very well balanced and drinkable. Delicious cold, but gets creamier as it warms. Faint but long-lived tangy malt finish with nice bitterness. All-malt, 5.8% alcohol. The brewery has a brewpub with its own website at

    Yatsugatake Touchdown Frontier Pilsner (Kiyosato Yatsugatake Brewery in Nagano; phone 0551-48-2521) - Beautiful yellow with a faint malt aroma and crisp fine carbonation. Very dry and refreshing with excellent balance. Good hop bite that lingers. Superb for a summer night. All-malt, 5.5% alcohol. A very well-crafted beer with a crisp, quenching finish. The brewery has a brewpub with its own website at

! ! ! - Recommended as being good, interesting, worth a try.

    Abbaye de St. Landelin Biere Blonde (Brasseurs de Gayant, France) - This representation of a Trappist Ale (though not authentic) is medium yellow with good clarity, with a frothy white short-lived head. Grainy aroma, sharp strong taste with dry and slightly tart finish. Similar to Duvel, but not as complex nor as satisfying. Made with Malt, hops, wheat, rice, sugar, and flavors; 7% alcohol. 330 ml bottle only Y198 at Yamaya in Shinjuku.

    Echigo Pilsner (Uehara Shuzo, Niigata) Yellow and true to pilsner style, with good and rich malty flavor followed by clean, herbal bitterness for excellent balance. Y298 per can. Reliable Japanese craft beer that takes the mass-produced style and does it one better.

    La Biere du Demon (Brasseurs de Gayant, France) - Diabolical 12% alcohol beer brewed with malt, hops, rice and sugars. Pale yellow, short-lived head. Grainy grassy aroma with sweet highlights. Light sweet malty flavor with alcohol very apparent. Long and lingering sweet finish tempered with some herbal hop bitterness. Pleasant, but one-dimensional sweetness and lack of satisfying complexity. For an entirely different take on a 12% beer, try Bush 12% from Belgium, a truly delightful brew with alcohol not so apparent. 250 ml bottle only Y198 at Yamaya in Shinjuku.

    Old English Dry Ginger Beer (England). Good ginger ale aroma, amber yellow with small head. Beautiful sweet ginger tang in great balance. Very smooth, rich and refreshing with clean aftertaste that leaves a tip of ginger on the tongue. Made with malt, flaked barley, hops and fresh ginger; 4.7% alcohol. Not everyone will like this, but it's a good example of a traditional ginger beer. Also, ginger is said to help the digestion, so this may be good medicine, particularly for a hangover.

    Sennen Bakushu (Ginga Kogen, Japan) Deep reddish brown, tan head, faint hop aroma, rich malty beer in the German dunkel style of lager. Some malty sweetness, but quickly fading to a clean finish. Good texture with nicely moderated carbonation. Very quaffable for a dark beer. All malt, 5% alcohol. About Y260 at some 7-11 stores and many liquor shops.

    Sozai Gensen from Kirin - Almost four stars, but not quite. This is a superbly made pilsner beer, said to be brewed with 100% European malt. Very clear medium yellow, with a thin head. Crisp hop aroma in good balance with malt. Very clean and refreshing taste with an almost salty mineral note leading to a nice, clean finish where malt and herbal hops faintly linger. Gets a bit richer as it warms. Very much like modern European mass-produced pilsners of higher quality. Obvious use of high-quality ingredients. 5% alcohol.

! ! - Some people may like it; otherwise close but no cigar.

    Myanmar Beer (Myanmar Brewery Ltd, Burma) Medium yellow and fizzy, durable sudsy head. Light body yet very malty in the start like Singha, quickly fading to a clean finish. 5% alcohol. Y780 for a large 640 ml bottle at the Myananda restaurant in Makuhari, in the building in front of the station.

    Sapporo Grand Beer - Very clear pale yellow, faint unfermented malt and cornflake aroma with floral hops present. Very clean taste with soft initial mouthfeel, leading to a razor-clean finish marked by better quality hops and a slightly lingering malt tail. Overall like a mass-produced American beer, but with slightly richer flavor yet without a heavier body. The familiar Sapporo "rich softness" is present, yet toned down into an almost entirely forgettable beer. All malt, 5% alcohol.

    Shin Malt's (New Malt's) from Suntory - Very clear medium yellow with faint malt-dominated aroma. Clean, straightforward taste, but with a good malt/hop balance and a rich but nondescript finish. All malt, 5% alcohol..

    Will Sweet Brown Beer by Asahi - Hey, this was better than expected. Very clear light bronze amber, with a thick and creamy head. Like the other beer, it has a rich initial taste that fades with astonishing speed to very light with a touch of tartness. Again, the great disappearing flavor act, but better than the other Will beer. Mad with malt, hops, sugars; 4.5% alcohol.

! - 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.

    Asahi Super Malt - Drink this and find out how bad an all-malt beer can be! Very pale yellow with super clarity. Weak sudsy head. Faint "cheap American beer" aroma with noticeable sour tang, thin body, faint metallic bitterness. Most brewers try to make their happo-shu (low-malt beer) taste like regular beer, but with this beer Asahi seems to be attempting the opposite. 100% malt, 3.5% alcohol.

    Reisei Karakuchi by Sapporo - This happo-shu (low-malt beer) is light yellow with a rapidly vanishing head. Typical happo-shu grainy aroma, but with alcohol predominant. Cheap alcohol/grain/sugar flavor with blunt nondescript bitterness. Very thin body with a thin metallic aftertaste. 25% malt, hops, rice, cornstarch, sugars; 5.5% alcohol. Pretty bad, but some may like it if consumed very cold. Cheap! At Y138/can.

    Rubin Rot by Hoppy (Akasaka) - This is a happo-shu made with purple sweet potato, malt, hops, starch and flavoring. Quite an unusual brew, very much like a fruit beer. Orangey pink with a white head and soda-pop aroma. Tart fruity flavor with a medicinal aftertaste. Like a bad try at a cheap Belgian fruit beer. Tastes like a poorly done beer cocktail made with cheap suds. Gack!

    Suntory 2000 - Very clear pale yellow. Like Suntory Malt's, but lighter. 5% alcohol. So ordinary as to be hardly worth writing about, except that it is all malt.

    Will Smooth Beer by Asahi - Malt, hops, rice, cornstarch, sugars, flavoring - what a concoction! Pale yellow with a forward beer aroma and some malt up front in the taste, but quickly fades into water-like drink. Light fine carbonation, 5% alcohol. Everything disappears so quickly, so what you thought was a mouthful of beer turns to water before you have a chance to swallow. A real Houdini disappearing act.

ugh - We recommend that you avoid this product.

    Clear Brew from Kirin - Not technically a beer, but since it was made with malt and hops, it's in this review. Obviously a rip-off of Zima by Coors. Completely clear, with a spooky looking snow-white head. Thin 7-up flavor with faint beer taste, all overpowered by strong chemical soda-pop flavors and a soapy aftertaste. No wonder, look at the ingredients: malt, hops, barley, sugar, flavor, acidic flavoring, vitamin C. Awful by any measure. But it has a website:

    Otter Fest Beer "Dassai" (from sake brewer Asahi Shuzo of Yamaguchi Prefecture) I have had this several times, and it is always as bad. Unappealing murky dishwater blonde color, skunky hop aroma, full malt body with cloying "unfermented extract" syrupiness. Wildly lively carbonation, often associated with some bacterial infection. Y380 Attractive blue glass bottle may give a clue to the skunkiness.

    2001 100% Organic Malt (Canada). Made with pure spring water. Rather strangely cloudy, possibly deliberate. All malt, 5% alcohol. Strange acidity followed by odd sugary sweetness. Somehow tastes like Singha, but not nearly as good. Distinctively bad, and obviously brewed for the Japanese market, although drinking a beer like this makes you realize how well-balanced most mass-produced Japanese beer is.


Odds & Ends that people send me by e-mail

From Joe Hlebica:



From Aaron Held:

FYI for your next trip to the UK. An AP story in Today's Japan Times (page 8) says that England is considering dropping the 11pm mandatory pub closing, and introducing a 24 hour policy. The reasons are sound. The 11pm closing encourages binge drinking around last call, and forces hundreds of drinkers to hit the streets, and often each other, at the same time. What this means for guys like us, of course, is that we can enjoy Fuler's and Tetley's and Worthington White Shield and the rest at our own pace. Sounds pleasant, indeed.



A study conducted in Finland indicated that drinking a beer a day reduced the risk of kidney stone formation in men by 40%, according to an August 15 Alameda Newspaper Group story. The trial of 30,000 male smokers was conducted with beer, wine, distilled spirits, milk, coffee and tea. Beer was the only drink that significantly reduced the risk of kidney stones. The hops in beer may be the reason. Hops may inhibit the release of calcium from bone. Kidney stones are primarily calcium, so the lower amount of calcium in the blood may account for less kidney stone formation. Another theory suggests that alcohol depresses the secretion of the hormone vasopressin, increasing urine flow and diluting the urine, but none of the other alcoholic drinks tested lessened the formation of kidney stones.



Beer enthusiasts around the world hope that an Internet-inspired campaign will save one of the world's classic beers from extinction. At stake is the future of Rodenbach Grand Cru and quite possibly two other outstanding beers from Belgium, Oerbier and Stille Nacht from De Dolle Brouwers. Dann Paquette, head brewer at North East Brewing Co. in Boston, began spreading this news in late January. "Yesterday I got five emails while I was writing just one," Paquette said just a week later. He began by posting one message in an Internet newsgroup and sending a few individual emails. They reported that the Palm Brewery, which acquired a controlling interest in Rodenbach less than two years ago, already stopped making Rodenbach Alexander and reportedly put the Grand Cru on a one-year trial. Palm also informed De Dolle that it would no longer receive yeast from Rodenbach. De Dolle is a small brewery and has none of the technology to repitch its yeast; without the distinctive Rodenbach yeast, it may not continue making Oerbier or Stille Nacht.



Fans of Rodenbach Grand Cru mounted a vocal campaign in the last two weeks to save it after reports that Rodenbach might discontinue brewing the classic Belgian red ale. Even beer drinkers who don't like Rodenbach Grand Cru -- and more don't than do -- should care just as much. There is more at stake than a single beer.

It sounds alarmist to suggest that not only a 4-star beer but eventually a treasured Belgian brewery and perhaps even a beer style might be lost. The reports are not confirmed, and right now the brewery continues to craft the beer. Generations of Americans, however, have suffered through the mainstreaming of beer. Thus when it appears others may be headed down that ugly road it's hard not to run out, arms waving, yelling, "No, no! Don't do it!"

The Palm Brewery has made changes since it took controlling interest in Rodenbach less than two years ago. Now come these reports that it has already discontinued making Rodenbach Alexander and put the Grand Cru on a one-year trial.

"Rodenbach has been losing share in Belgium," said Wendy Littlefield of Vanberg & Dewulf, which imports Rodenbach to the United States and has not been informed of the rumored changes. "Children are growing up with Coke, developing sweet tastes and they don't have the palate for these sour beers." Beer drinkers have always hated or loved the distinctive West Flanders sour beers. Today, it seems fewer than ever love them.

Littlefield's husband and partner, Don Feinberg, was recently in Belgium. Palm officials told him they want to concentrate on using the beer known simply as Rodenbach to build its brand. Rodenbach currently is a blend of two beers: one stronger and aged from 18 to 24 months, and the other not quite as strong and aged five to six weeks.

The aged beer, unblended, is bottled as Rodenbach Grand Cru. Clearly, the future of Rodenbach (often referred to as Rodenbach Classic in the U.S.) comes into doubt if the older portion of the blend is eliminated. Michael Jackson describes these West Flanders red ales as "the most refreshing beers in the world."

"We've been getting calls from bars across the country," Littlefield said. "It's obvious that people in the states want (the Grand Cru)." Most learned of its possible demise through the Internet. Dann Paquette, head brewer at North East Brewing Co. in Boston, began the grassroots campaign after returning from a trip to Belgium where he was told about the changes.

In little more than two weeks, his original message was forwarded thousands of times and copied into numerous newsgroups, inspiring even more messages. Some have focused on saving the beer, others on attacking Palm. Littlefield said the attacks are unfair. "There are white knights and not-so white knights and Palm is one of the good guys," she said. "Palm and Duvel have really championed the independent breweries."

The Rodenbach Brewery and its Grand Cru are both treasures. Rodenbach's maturation halls are spectacular; one holds more than 100 oak tuns. One tun dates back to 1868, many to the turn of the century and it takes four coopers to maintain them. Oak, multiple yeast strains and multiple fermentations are the keys to producing Rodenbach's unique beers.

"There isn't a brewery like it in the world," Littlefield said. "Nobody would open a brewery like it today."

Paquette agrees. He knows that if Grand Cru production were halted, it likely would not be revived and would be nearly impossible to duplicate elsewhere. "You don't just start up a new brewery like that," he said. "Once they stop doing what they are doing the way they are doing it, it's gone."

Grand Cru isn't gone yet. "It will make a difference if thousands of emails demonstrate the seriousness of people's affection for this beer," Littlefield said. Vanberg & Dewulf will collect any emails sent to its website ( and forward them.

Many may choose to contact the brewery directly at:
Brouwerij Palm N.V.
P.R. Department-Peter Buelens
Steenhuffeldorp 3
B-1840 Steenhuffel
tel: 052/31.74.67
fax: 052/31.23.44

Even if you've never tasted Rodenbach's beers -- or if you have and hated them -- it is still worth taking the time to write. Have you ever looked at an old beer ad or picked up an empty bottle from a brewery long out of business and wondered what the beer tasted like? Maybe it was lousy, maybe it was great. You will never know. We know about Rodenbach Grand Cru. Let's hope we never have to wonder in the future.


Brews News copyright (c) Bryan Harrell and contributors.

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