Brews News #81
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Brews News #81 - October 2007
All articles by Bryan Harrell unless noted.

Beer Here

Minoh Beer at Tokyu Osaka Festival

Now until October 2 at Tokyu Toyoko-ten
Daily until 9 pm (9/30 to 8 pm, 10/2 to 5 pm)

An "Osaka Festival" is now being held on the West-kan 8th floor of the Tokyu Department Store's Toyoko-ten location atop Shibuya station. Of interest to Brews News readers is the Minoh Beer booth, staffed by the president, brewer and staff of the brewery itself. On tap is their Shinyu Pilsener, Amber Lager and superb Double IPA, with Minoh Stout on real ale handpump - all just 600 yen per glass. Plus, six varieties of Minoh beer, including Pale Ale, a Belgian Ale seasonal and Weizen are available in bottles for take-home purchase. If you happen to be in Shibuya, drop by and say hello.

Japan Craft Beer Festival

September 30, 1 to 5 pm
Sumida Riverside Hall, Asakusa, Tokyo

This is the second year of this festival, organized by a group of 18 small brewers and Aoki-san of Beer Club Popeye. While the beers to be served have yet to be announced, you will no doubt recognize the list of participants: Baird Brewing, Daisen G Beer, Echigo Beer, Fujizakura Kogen, Hakusekikan, Harvest Moon, Hida Takayama, Hitachino Nest, Isekadoya, Iwate-kura, Loco Beer, Minoh Beer, Sankt Gallen, Shiga Kogen, Shonan Beer, Swan Lake, Tazawako Beer and Yona Yona. A list of beers in English will be provided at the venue. Tickets are 2,800 yen and include a commemorative tasting glass, and tickets for eight 120 ml pours. Extra beer tickets are just 200 yen each. Tickets are available at Beer Club Popeye, Ushitora, Kura Kura, and other great beer bars around town. See www.craftbeerfestival.jp/ticketpublist.php for a list. Tickets are now on sale on the site, but there's more fun and less hassle buying them at a pub. For more details on the festival, see www.craftbeerfestival.jp

Map (in Japanese): www.craftbeerfestival.jp/access.php

Yokohama Oktoberfest 2007 Sept 28 - Oct 8

9/28 5 - 9 pm
9/29/30 11 am - 9 pm
10/1-5 noon - 9 pm
10/6-8 11 am - 9 pm

This is one of the most fun beer events of the year, not for the variety of good beer as much as for the lively atmosphere and rowdy crowd who come for the beer, German food and free entertainment by musicians from Germany, Japan and other places. Look for the German-style beers brewed by Fujizakura Kogen (Pilsner and Weizen), Sankt Gallen (a new Weizen is rumored) and Yokohama Beer (Pilsner and Alt). These are priced lower than the German imports, and have the advantage of extra freshness. With luck, Fujizakura may bring some of their stellar Rauchbier, a dark smoky lager that is immensely satisfying. No admission fee, just pay for what you order. For more details (in Japanese) go to www.nihon-oktoberfest.com/yokohama

Baird Oktoberfest Celebration

October 6 - 8 noon to midnight
Fishmarket Taproom, Numazu

Baird Brewing will be holding their own Oktoberfest at the Fishmarket Taproom during the 3-day holiday weekend in October. Naturally, German-style beers will be featured, and that means mostly lagers, but some ales. The list is impressive: Oktoberfest Lager 2006 (brewed in late spring 2006), The Professor Munchner Dunkel, Cool Breeze Pils 2007, Black Velvet Dark Lager, and Suruga Bay Steam Lager, along with two traditional German ales, New World Alt and Old World Kolsch. To go with these brews, the Taproom will be serving a number or original German-inspired beer cuisine specialties, ranging from 400 to 1,000 yen. No reservations are required. For more information, and directions to the Taproom, go to www.bairdbeer.com

TacoFest 2007 at Sal's Cafe

October 13 - 14, from 1 pm 'til late

In conjunction with Sugaya beer store, Sal's Cafe will be holding another beer festival ("the largest in Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki!") after their successful Soggy Beer Festival in June. This Oktoberfest-themed event will feature over eight beers on tap, some of them quite rare, along with food. Rumors are that a keg of the exquisite Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing (Indiana) will be tapped at the event, but better confirm beforehand. Anyway, with the name TacoFest it should be a lot of fun. We'd like to think Mexican "tacos" but the flyer shows an octopus, with a beer in each tentacle. For details, see the sites of the sponsors.

Sugaya http://bsgy.hp.infoseek.co.jp/
Sal's Cafe www.salscafe.com

Real Ale Month 2007 in Osaka

October 15 to November 11

Minoh Beer of Osaka is organizing a Real Ale Month with participation by other breweries who do real ale, namely Yona Yona, Isekadoya, Sankt Gallen, Iwate Kura Beer, Hitachino Nest, Swan Lake, Harvest Moon and Shimane Beer. Beers will be served on a rotation basis at each location; call ahead to find out what is being poured or, better yet, just show up and be pleasantly surprised. Hard-core enthusiasts can participate in the stamp rally and win a T-shirt by visiting all four pubs. Note that all four pubs will be open every day during their participation period.

October 15 - 21 at World Beer & Cafe Qbrick
1F Kyoon Bldg Minami-kan, 4-6-12 Hirano-cho, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Ten minutes southeast of Higobashi station (Exit 5), one block east of the expressway
Tel/Fax 06-6203-0690 / www.worldbeerqbrick.com

October 22 - 28 at Beer Cafe Barley
Liberty 2 Bldg 2F, Nagatacho 1-15, Nishinomiya-shi
Three minutes from the North exit of Hankyu Nishiguchi Station, above a barber shop
Tel. 0798-65-3165 / www.beercafe.jp/

October 29 - November 4 at Beer Belly
1F Osaka River Bldg., 1-1-30 Tosabori, Nishi-ku, Osaka
Five minutes east of Exit 3 of Higobashi station (Osaka subway Yotsubashi line), on a small street north of and parallel to Tosabori-dori, near Chikuzen-bashi
Tel/Fax 06-6441-0717 / www.minoh-beer.jp/direct-shops/index.html

November 5 - 11 Beer Belly at Edobori
1F Famille Edobori, 2-1-21 Edobori, Nishi-ku, Osaka 550-0002
Eight minutes west of Higobashi station (Exit 2), just off Tosabori-dori: turn left at the Trajal College of Hospitality and Tourism
Tel 06-6445-6366 / www.minoh-beer.jp/direct-shops/edobori.html

For a detailed roundup of Osaka's beer bar scene, see http://bento.com/brews77.html#barbeat

Hiroyuki Fujiwara's 2nd Belgian Beer Dinner

Sunday, October 21, 2 to 4 pm
Antwerp Central

The first of these dinners in May was a resounding success, with superb dishes matched with great Belgian ales. The big surprise was Fujiwara starting out with Chimay White (8% abv) and moving on to lighter beers (Saison Regal, Leffe Brune) before finishing with Hoegaarden White. This upcoming event is highly recommended, and will feature four courses: fresh vegetable and cheese with tartine, marinated salmon with a salad of endive and walnuts with blue cheese, free-range pork roast basted with beer and honey, and French toast with vanilla ice cream for dessert. For the matching beers, expect more surprises this time as Fujiwara is keeping the beer selection a secret until the day of the event. Cost is 6,500 yen per person, which you pay on the day of the event. For reservations and more information, contact Antwerp Central Belgian Beer Cafe at 03-5288-7370. For a map, see their web site www.belgianbeercafe.jp

Beer Lovers Club at Bois Cereste

Saturday, November 24, 5 to 10 pm

During this quarterly event, Bois Cereste owner Yamada-san offers a wide variety of Belgian Beers at low prices with a ticket system. A strip of 10 tickets is 3,500 yen, and most beers are only 2 or 3 tickets. Tickets can also be used for simple food items.

Bois Cereste is a few minutes from Akasaka Station on the Chiyoda subway line; phone 03-3588-6292.
Map: www.bento.com/gmaps/0818.html
Review: www.bento.com/rev/0818.html

Bar Beat

One Yokohama Bar Closes, Another Opens

by Glenn Scoggins, the Bar Hunter

Since 2000, Agemon'ya Public Bar has served imported beer (mainly from Germany, Britain, and Belgium) in the Porta underground shopping center at Yokohama station. Originally a tempura restaurant owned by the Hageten chain, the bar was never a perfect match for its location, hampered by the early closing hour of the arcade. It will return to its tempura roots from October, but its manager (and former tempura chef) Saitoh Shuuma has been headhunted by Yokohama Brewery to manage their new brewpub in Bashamichi, tentatively named Yokohama Beer Bar.

The new bar is scheduled to open with a Halloween party on Wednesday, October 31st featuring the full line-up of Yokohama Beer and a range of imports as well. However, a sneak preview was held for three nights during the recent Great Japan Beer Festival at Yokohama's Osanbashi cruise ship terminal. The brewers and volunteers packed the house, drained the sixteen taps, and enjoyed the show put on by acrobatic "flair" bartenders. Ignoring the posted midnight closing time, many stayed until dawn.

Yokohama head brewer Sakaki Kohta, who has known Saitoh since their childhood together in Shinagawa-ku's Tachiaigawa neighborhood, is optimistic about his brewery's first expansion from their current ground-floor location under Italian restaurant Sul Ponte, also known as Umaya no Shokutaku. The brewery's President Kurita, through an involved set of business transactions, acquired control over the currently defunct bar at Heiwa Plaza, a business hotel in a prime location.

Just behind the stately Meiji-period Kanagawa Museum of Cultural History and a few steps from Bashamichi station, the hotel (with the cheapest downtown rates, by the night or by the hour) will provide a steady stream of thirsty customers, as will its proximity to Yokohama's central business district and the nearby Aka Renga Warehouses, World Porters, Queen's Square, and Landmark Plaza shopping complexes. Those coming down from Tokyo won't have far to go, as a direct train from Shibuya will whisk them straight to their destination.

Yokohama Beer Bar (tentative name)
Heiwa Plaza Hotel 1F
5-65 Ota-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama 231-0011
Tel (Hotel) 045-212-2333
(The bar does not currently have a telephone; contact Umaya no Shokutaku instead.)
One minute from Bashamichi station (Minato Mirai line, direct from Shibuya as the Tokyu Toyoko line), or five minutes from either JR Kannai or JR Sakuragi-ch? stations

Yokohama Brewery (1F) and Sul Ponte/Umaya no Shokutaku (2F)
6-68-1 Sumiyoshi-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama 231-0013
Tel 045-641-9901 (Restaurant) or 045-640-021 (Brewery)
Web Page: www.umaya.com

Zenkoku Ji-Biiru Festival
Ichinoseki, August 18-19, 2007

by Glenn Scoggins

The Good Beer Club contingent from Tokyo invades the beer festival in Tohoku. (Photo by Glenn Scoggins)

"When a man is sick of Tokyo, he is sick of life," said Dr Johnson (or so he would have said had he lived here). I was heartily sick of Tokyo in August, of sweaty streets and blinding sunshine, of sleepless nights in a damp futon, of a narrow sky circumscribed by tall grey buildings. I wanted wide open spaces, fresh air and pure water, wholesome hearty food and friendly country folk. I wanted to go to Tohoku!

And so I did. The small farming town of Ichinoseki, in southernmost Iwate-ken, had its last moment in the spotlight in the 11th and 12th centuries, when nearby Hiraizumi was briefly capital to a breakaway Fujiwara kingdom. Now it hosts an annual nationwide festival of craft beers, thanks to the vigorous organization of the local Iwate-kura brewery and the enthusiastic support of the mayor and Chamber of Commerce, local bars and shops, and the townspeople, all of whom seem to show up for the fun. The festival thus combines a range of beers from Hokkaido to Okinawa with a distinctly down-home flavor. The mid-August heat wave that had afflicted Iwate during the week broke, and the cool temperatures and overcast skies were ideal for an outdoor event, despite a smidgen of rain from time to time.

Sixty-two breweries from 45 prefectures (only Saga and Tottori were unrepresented) sent their finest, including in many cases their headliner brewers. An ingenious system of alternation meant that half of the beers were poured on Saturday morning and the other half in the afternoon, reversing the order on Sunday, to take advantage of the limited space available and perhaps to encourage the less committed drinker to stick around for the change-over.

Each of the two adjacent sites at the Ichinoseki Cultural Center featured a line of beer servers along one side, food stalls on two others, and entertainment at the far end. The music and dancing ranged from flamenco to hula, with hardly any indigenous contributions, but the open-air location meant that it could easily be ignored when obnoxious. There seemed to be even more food available than beer, and perhaps every restaurant in town had set up a stall, with a highly favorable taste-cost ratio. The only false note was struck by the environmentally-insensitive plastic cups, discarded by the thousands and creating trash at odds with the natural countryside venue.

Some familiar faces to those on the festival circuit were there: Toshi Ishii from Yona-Yona (Karuizawa, Nagano), Hiromichi Miyashita from Fujizakura Kogen (Lake Kawaguchi, Yamanashi), Kaori Oshita from Minoo AJI (Osaka), and Tomoko Sonoda from Harvest Moon (Maihama, Chiba) all showed up to plug their wares. Most visible was the putative host, Satoh Wataru from Iwate-kura Beer and its parent sake brewery, Seki-no-Ichi, who led a comprehensive brewery tour for all who were interested.

The entire town supported the venture throughout the weekend, organizing a "stamp rally" called Ji-Biiru Street. Dropping in at as few as three of the thirteen participating restaurants and bars made one eligible to win prizes, and an added incentive was the chance to drink beer not available at the festival, one brand per establishment. (I missed my chance for Ise-Kadoya's "Sinto", though, thanks to the thirsty mobs that preceded me and evaporated the supply!)

The festival attracted a large crowd of out-of-towners, some from the Kanto plain (including a GBC-sponsored bus tour with so many Popeye regulars on board that the bar must have been empty on Saturday night). It was fun to drink late with friends with no worries about the last train home. However, a greater part of the event's appeal was its local character, with three-generation families enjoying a summer weekend together in their own neighborhood. Beer, food, good conversation, and a relaxed atmosphere, spread over two days, made for a wholly different experience than spending five hours indoors at Ebisu or Azuma-bashi. Even the beer tasted different! But don't take my word for it: next year's festival is only ten months from now.

The festival website is still in operation, courtesy of Iwate-Kura Beer. The same site provides information about the beer and sake operations under the Seki-no-Ichi umbrella: http://www.sekinoichi.co.jp/06event/index.html

Seki-no-Ichi Shuzo
5-42 Tamura-cho, Ichinoseki-shi, Iwate-ken
Tel 0191-21-1144

Newly Open Antwerp Six in Ginza

By Bryan Harrell

I paid a visit on opening night, September 20, and really didn't have a good impression of the place/ It's pretty much a smaller cookie-cutter version of Antwerp Central near Tokyo Station, complete with overpriced beer. In fact, it struck me that the deliberate old-timey-ness of the decor may make this chain the Belgian beer equivalent of the many so-called "Irish pubs." Anyway, a more complete report after a few more visits.

Antwerp Six, Ginza 8-2-1, phone 03-5568-0091. www.belgianbeercafe.jp

Six Pick

From First Class to Economy

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.


!!!!! Baird Japan Tale Ale (Shizuoka; malt, wheat, rice, sudakito sugar, ume; 5.9% abv) Hazy straw yellow, off-white head, spicy floral aroma. Brisk tart flavor with "ume" (a fruit often called a "plum" but sometimes referred to as a "Japanese apricot") apparent but not too obvious. Said to be like an "ume sour" on the label, but the ume flavor is appropriately subdued - this is just right. Rich yet refreshing for such an interesting brews. As a side note, I would like to see ume used in a strong blonde ale, such as a Tripel or something like Duvel. Another great seasonal from Baird.

!!!!! Wildebock (Holland, Scheldebrouwerij; barley malt, munich malt, caramel malt, candi sugar, Hallertau and Hersbrucker hops; 6.5% abv) Hazy chocolate brown, thin tan head, powerful carbonation. Complex aroma suggesting ripe plums, fruitcake and port wine, with alcohol apparent. Sweet initial baste followed by a blast of tartness. A very dry version of a Belgian dubbel, with loads of rich, meaty, vinuous flavors like chocolate, dark caramel and coffee that carry on through an extended finish. One of a series of nine beers from the Scheldebrouwerij microbrewery of Holland, www.scheldebrouwerij.nl . These are now being imported into Japan by Ezo Beer in Hokkaido; for details, see www.ezo-beer.com/jpn/holland.html

!!!! Middelburgs Witheer (Holland, Scheldebrouwerij; barley malt, wheat malt, Hallertau hops, coriander, curacao orange peel, yeast; 5% abv) Dull hazy yellow, creamy snow-white head. Sweet, spicy aroma with yeast present. Slightly funkier version of normal wit beers. Brisk dry flavor, surprisingly clean finish.

!!!! Cooperstown Back Yard IPA (New York; all malt, 6.1% abv) Slightly hazy amber gold, thin tan head, subdued fruity aroma. Strikingly bitter initial tasted, with hops lingering as fruity malt pokes its way into the fore. Deep caramel flavors with a slightly peppery feel. A solid IPA though a bit too hop-forward to be a session beer. Imported by Nagano Trading company; www.naganotrading.com

!!!! Iwate Kura Weizen (Iwate; all malt; 5% abv) Clear pale yellow, little head, subdued weizen "cloves and banana" aroma. Light body, light flavor, certainly intended as a summer refresher. Faintly spicy flavor, softly fruity. Call this a "half-a-weizen?"

!!! Iwate Kura Summer Blond (Iwate; all malt; 5% abv) Hazy gold, dense white head. Nice malty aroma, brisk carbonation. Low bitterness, soft mouthfeel, an easy drink.

!!!! Kirin Ichiban Shibori Stout (all malt, 5% abv) Opaque near-black brown, thick and fluffy tan head. Lively aroma of dark caramel, chocolate and floral hops. Deep, rich roasty malt flavors with brown-sugar sweetness, offset by some tartness, which gives it a fruitcake-like flavor in the background. Lingering finish of sweet roasted malt and dark malt flavors. Purists note that this beer, like regular Ichiban Shibori, is a bottom-fermented lager and not a stout in the commonly understood definition.

!!!! Coedo Kyara (Saitama; all malt; 5% abv) Bright amber gold, snow-white head. Strong lightly roasted malt aroma. Thin body but good sweet and tangy malt flavor, backed by some hop bitterness. Dry and refreshing finish. Is this a marzen or a Vienna-style lager?

!!! Coedo Ruri (Saitama; all malt; 5% abv). This is unmistakably a pilsener lager. Bright yellow, off-white head, strong malt aroma with very floral and perfume-like hops, which carries over into the flavor. The malt is slightly weak, though, and makes for an somewhat watery body. Crisp and refreshing finish.

!!! Sapporo Zeitaku Malt (all malt, 5.5% abv) Rich golden bronze, creamy off-white head. Clean but understated malt aroma with touches of European herbal hops. Heavy and tangy malt flavor with minimal sweetness and good hop backbone but little hop aroma. Long tapering finish. Pretty much like the average Japanese beer, but just a little bigger.

!!! Kirin Aki Aji (Malt, hops, rice, cornstarch; 6% abv) Bright solid gold, off-white head. Slightly sweet malt aroma. Initial flavor of solid malt, with sweetness dropping as hop bitterness emerges, but some sweetness lingers long for a well-balanced finish. Rich but not exceptional. Said to contain 1.3 times more malt than Kirin's "regular" beer.

!!! Iwate Kura Passion Ale (Iwate; malt, hops, Okinawan passion fruit, rice syrup (mizuame), nutmeg, coriander; 4% abv) Faintly hazy yellow, think white head, tart aroma of passion fruit, practically no bitterness. Think and a bit strange, but should resonate with some drinkers.

Special thanks to Glenn Scoggins for the Iwate Kura beers.

Beer Talk

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Eric Wong Goes to Belgium

I've always been fascinated by Belgium and their contribution to the beer world. That's why I went to Belgium in August. The first thing I noticed when I got there were two names, Jupiler and Maes. I think they are like the Asahi and Kirin of Belgium - nice beers but I didn't go all the way to Belgium just to drink their macrobrew beers. Here is a report on the three Belgium breweries I visited. They are De Halve Maan Brewery in Bruges, De Dolle Brouwers in Diksmuide and Brewery Cantillon in Brussels.

Bruges is a city frozen in time for 400 years. Very touristy and crowded but still a very beautiful and enjoyable place. After checking in at my hostel I made a beeline down to De Halve Maan Brewery, a 10-minute walk away.

De Halve Maan is the only operating brewery in Bruges. Fifty years ago there were more than 70, in 2000 there were two and now there is only one. De Halve Maan survives on tourism but still produces two beers in their small brewery. The beers are matured elsewhere as the facility isn't big enough for that. They make Bruges Zot and Bruges Zot Double. Both were very drinkable and quite nice. I could have easily drank them all night. Most of their income however is from brewery/museum tours, and their bar, restaurant and dining hall. I joined the 3 pm tour, given in Dutch, French and German. Cost for the 45-minute tour is 5 euro and that includes a glass of Bruges Zot.

Photo by Eric Wong.

My next visit was De Dolle Brouwers, about two hours by train from Brussels in the town of Esen. The closest train station is Diksmuide and from there it is a 40-minute walk to the brewery. De Dolle was bought from the previous owner in 1980 by the Herteleer brothers, Kris and Jo. The bar inside the brewery is only open on weekends, and Sunday is the only time they give tours.

The English tour starts at 2 pm and the Dutch tour at 3 pm. Unfortunately, I missed the English tour and had to attend the Dutch tour. I wasn't alone, however, as there were a few English speakers also on the tour, which was given by the matriarch, grandma Herteleer. Lucky for me there was a Dutch man interpreting what grandma Herteleer was saying to his Australian friend. De Dolle brew six beers, with Oerbier and Arabier being their flagship products.

Photo by Eric Wong.

My last stop was Brewery Cantillon, the last surviving lambic brewery in Brussels. It is billed as a "Traditional Family-Run Brewery," having been operated by the same family since 1900. Cantillon continues to produce their lovely product the old-fashioned way.

Located about a ten-minute walk from the Gare du Midi station, the brewery seems like an unassuming warehouse. At first glance it looked closed, but I took a chance and opened the big barn door. I was greeted by one of the staff and was given a 5-minute introduction, after which I was left on my own to explore the wonderful cobwebbed and rustic brewery at leisure.

After going through the self-tour, I sat down at the bar for a few tastings, and was given small samples of gueuze, Rose de Gambrinus, faro and pure, undiluted lambic. I was pleasantly surprised by the lambic as I expected a really sour beer, but it was actually not as sour as the gueuze. They only brew during the winter so what I saw during my tour was the brewing staff cleaning and maintaining the equipment. If anyone is interested, their next public brewing day is on Saturday 10 November from 6:30 until 17:00.

Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan
http://www.halvemaan.be/eng/bier.htm
De Dolle Brouwers
http://www.dedollebrouwers.be/en/index.html
Cantillon brewery
http://www.cantillon.be/

News

New US Craft Beers at Sugaya

The beer store with a super selection cursed by a remote location, Sugaya, will be receiving a number of shipments this fall of hard-to-find US craft beers. Fortunately, these can be ordered for home delivery from their Web site. Recent arrivals include Stone Pale Ale, Arrogant Bastard, Smoked Porter and Ruination IPA; Alesmith Wee Heavy, Grand Cru, Speedway Stout and Old Numbskull; Moylan's Hopsickle, Imerial Stout and White Christmas; Deschutes Black Butte Porter and Bachelor ESB, Saranac Pumpkin Ale, Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye and much more. More shipments of US craft beers will continue through October. Check it out at www.sugaya-beer.com/shop.php?category_id=58&offsets=0

German Beer School

October 6 (Saturday) 2:30 - 4:30 pm

The Good Beer Club is holding a hands-on seminar on German beer at Franziskaner Cafe in Ochanomizu (03-5283-6846, www.zato.co.jp/shop/shop01.html ) with manager Tomita-san giving the seminar (in Japanese) with tastings of six types of beers: lager, Oktoberfest lager, hefeweiss, weizen, dunkel, and doppelbock from Franziskaner, Spaten and Flensburger breweries. There will also be a showing of the German portion of The Beer Hunter video by Michael Jackson. Cost is 3,000 yen for Good Beer Club members, and 4,000 yen for the general public. The seminar is limited to 25 people. For reservations, write to Nakamura-san at userkamisama@yahoo.co.jp

Belgian Beer Dinner

October 10 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm

Mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms is the theme of this month's Belgian Beer Dinner at Bois Cereste in Akasaka. The four-course meal consists of mushrooms in aspic, mushroom cream saute and meat-stuffed grilled mushrooms, along with bread and cheese. Each course will be matched with two different Belgian beers, each with its own character. Cost for the dinner, including copious amounts of Belgian ale, is 7,500 yen per person. Bois Cereste is a few minutes from Akasaka Station on the Chiyoda subway line; phone 03-3588-6292. Map

Beer School at Fujimamas

October 13 (Saturday) 3 to 5 pm

Bryan Harrell of Brews News will be giving a short seminar on German Beers at Fujimamas Restaurant in Omotesando. Five different beer styles will be introduced, with hands-on tasting experience with beers from Germany and from Japanese microbrewers.

German Beer Event at FCCJ

October 26 (Friday) from 730 to 9:30 pm

The Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan will be holding an event featuring German beers, presented by Bryan Harrell of Brews News. Five German styles will be introduced, represented by brews from Japanese microbrewers. The event is open to the public, and the cost is 2,500 yen. For details and reservations, phone the FCCJ at 03-3211-3161 or write to front@fccj.or.jp. Map: www.fccj.or.jp/aboutus/map

GBC Tour to Echigo Beer Brewpub

November 4 (Sunday) - Bus departs Tokyo at 7 am, returns 9:30 pm

Echigo Beer was the first microbrewery to open in Japan, back in early 1995. A group of Good Beer Club members are chartering a bus to visit this landmark in Niigata prefecture. A tour of the brewery is planned, followed by beer and food in the restaurant, a lovely building with high ceilings. For more details, go to www.echigo-beer.jp/bluepub.html Of course, during the long bus ride, beer is certain to be flowing. Cost is 11,000 yen for GBC members, 11,500 yen for the general public; transportation, food and drink included. As of this writing, there are 23 spaces available. For reservations, write to Nakamura-san at userkamisama@yahoo.co.jp

New Brews

Sapporo's 2007-8 version of Fuyu Monogatari winter beer will hit the shelves on October 10th. This is the 20th year they have produced this seasonal beer. www.sapporobeer.jp/product/beer/fuyumonogatari/index.html

On October 17, Kirin is coming out with a new beer-like cocktail named Sparkling Hop, and with a name like that it is certain to draw interest. It's one of these fake beers made with happoshu and barley spirits. I wonder how prominent the hops are, though. For details, see www.kirin.co.jp/brands/sparklinghop/index.html

Kirin Ichiban Shibori "Toritate Hop" (fresh-picked hops) in the unfiltered "chilled beer" version (sold at convenience stors) will go on sale October 31, with a regular version to follow on November 7. Both are brewed with fresh hops from the Tono region of Iwate prefecture. www.kirin.co.jp/brands/toretatehop/index.html

Special thanks to Glenn Scoggins and Eric Wong for their contributions to this issue. We'd love your contribution, too, so send your story ideas (or story) to "brewsnews at yahoo dot com" Deadline for the November issue is Monday, October 22.