Brews News #92
Home >> Eating & Drinking in Tokyo >> Brews News

Brews News #92 - April/May 2009
All articles by Bryan Harrell unless noted.

Beer Here

Belgian Lamb

The monthly Belgian beer dinner, on April 8th, at Bois Cereste in Akasaka will feature Giot d'agneau, a grilled bone-in lamb chop, as part of a light meal, along with the genuine Trappist beers from Rochefort, including a special version on a huge 1.5 liter bottle if there are at least eight participants. The 7,500 yen admission includes all food and drink. The meal starts at 7 pm, and reservations are required. For details on Bois Cereste, along with a map, see www.bento.com/rev/0818.html.

San Diego Super Beer Party

Saturday April 25th, 3 to 7 pm

Nagano Trading Co., importer of several brands of microbrew beer from the San Diego area, is holding a San Diego Super Beer Party at Salon de G in Ginza on Saturday, April 25th from 3 to 7 pm. Admission is 5,000 yen, which includes all you can drink and light food as well as the event glass, which makes for a great souvenir of the event. In addition, there are prizes available for lucky winners.

Featured will be the beers from Ballast Point, including Big Eye IPA, Abandon Ship Smoked Lager, and Black Marlin Porter (Bourbon barrel aged) along with a limited bottle selection of Victory at Sea Imperial Coffee Porter, Dorado Double IPA, Calico Amber Ale and YellowTail Kolsch style Pale Ale. In addition, a limited selection of beers from Stone Brewing and Green Flash will be available.

The venue is Salon de G, a three-minute walk from Exit C2 of Tokyo Metro Ginza Station. Address: 646 Bldg. 9F, 6-4-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; phone 03-3571-5837. For details, email (in English) to all@naganotrading.com or (in Japanese) barsals@hotmail.co.jp

Japan Craft Beer Selection

The craft beer movement in Japan is now fifteen years old. On April 1, 1994, regulations were changed to enable the procurement of a brewing license with a yearly production of 60,000 liters, reduced from the previous minimum of two million liters. In order to assure the continued development of craft beer culture in Japan, an organization has been set up to promote the production of world-class craft beer of superior quality.

The name of this new NPO group roughly translates as the "Japan craft beer support" group. They will hold an event on Sunday, April 26th at the Bunkyo Kumin Center (1-16-21 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku) which will be a beer competition called the Japan Craft Beer Selection. The group is now soliciting entries for the event from small brewers throughout Japan, and expect to gather over 100 different beers for entry into the competition.

Awards will be given out for ten categories of beers; 1) light lagers such as pilseners, 2) light ales such as golden ales, 3) dark lagers such as dunkel and schwartz beers, 4) wheat beers, 5) dark ales such as amber and porter, 6) IPA, 7) strong ales 6% and over including Belgian strong ales, 8) stout, 9) barleywine and "Imperial" beers, and 10) special beers including fruit beers. For each category, Gold, Silver and Bronze awards will be given. There will be a total of 100 judges, 50 who are regular beer enthusiasts and 50 who are brewers or people working in beer drinking places.

The starting time for the event has yet to be decided. For more information, contact the JCBS Group representative Ishida-san, in Japanese only, e-mail vsg05000@nifty.com. His phone number is 090-5190-7405. He (as well as Popeye owner Aoki-san, another organizer) may be contacted in the evenings at Beer Club Popeye, phone 03-3633-2120.

Beer There

Grande Biere in Tokyo Midtown March 14-15

Publicity about specific details for this event was very late in coming, but several readers who attended had generally favorable comments on the event, which cost 5,500 yen at the event (5,000 at the door) which were good for all the beer one could drink. All in all, those who attended seemed pleased with the beers available.

Report by Tim Eustace

Grande Biere at Midtown in the middle of March was overall much better than the usual overcrowded organized festivals organized by Mr. Oda of the JCBA. This festival had its sights clearly aimed at the Roppongi Hills/Midtown/Omotesando crowd. Though it fell well short of attendance numbers, the crowd had a lot of familiar faces, so overall I thought the festival was a success.

In a nutshell, the Negatives: NO COAT CHECK!!! - Everyone just put their bags down against the wall. Really unprofessional and not at all part of the high end theme.

No tickets at the door on Friday. This point was very ambiguous on the website, but it apparently meant only people that worked at Midtown could get tickets at the door. Considering there was a lack of people overall, I could get a ticket.

Too short on Friday evening, and the start was early. 6-8:30pm isn't really practical for most people. A 7 or 7:30pm start to later would have been better and would have attracted larger numbers of people.

Beers were served too cold - not a surprise at all.

Sampling size was only 50ml, which is typical for such festivals, but I would like to see a ticket system with optional sizes, such as 50, 100 or 150ml with different lines on the glass.

Not enough IPA/Bitter beers. This is again typical, as micros still lean towards German style beers. I would have liked to see more styles available.

The price. 5000 yen is too steep for a festival. The 3000 yen on Friday night, though it was for a shorter session, was much more reasonable. I strongly hope they move towards a ticket system and away from all you can drink, as that is not how the festival should position itself.

Now, the Positives:

Hands down the beer quality was much better than other festivals. Lots of seasonal beers and even experimental and pre-release stuff that got me excited. Honestly, I couldn't keep up with all the good beer available that I had never tried!!

Everyone commented on the quality of beer. Any complaints were overshadowed by this point alone. Apparently organizer Mr. Oda pushed people to bring their unusual beers, which was a great idea.

Nine-tail fox 1999 (Friday only) - Friggin amazing and rare to have this beer on tap that is aged so long. Much better than newer versions of this 12% barleywine.

Food was great. Dean and Deluca catered and the quality was much better than the usual bland pretzels available at most beer festivals.

Not very crowded. Only about a 1/3 of expected numbers of 1,500 Sat/Sun and 750 on Friday. I never had to wait for anything.

Surprises of the event: Yet to be released (now available) Haru from Miyoshi Becken is a schooling on the Vienna style of beer. Nails it down perfectly. Atsugi beer came with a Triple and unfiltered Belgian Strong Ale. The former was good, and the latter was the talk of the night by most people.

Nagisa - not for their great beer, but because they were so clueless. Everyone seemed to get the special beers thing and make something interesting. They had an American Wheat and pale ale. I asked what seasonals - they said they don't do seasonals. I asked what other beers they make - they said they only make the two styles. Not bad beer, but completely unprogressive compared to all the other breweries.

All in all, I like it. I think the festival is heading in the right direction, but a few things need to be fine-tuned for next time. I certainly hope they hold the same festival next year, though I stress a ticket system, instead of all-you-can-drink would have been much better.

Bar Beat

Berg in Shinjuku

This tiny spot in Shinjuku station is many places rolled into one. The format is sort of like a standard Doutour coffee shop, a popular chain in Japan, but the food offered is of a higher quality. The main thing for Brews News readers is that they have a selection of good beer. In addition to Sapporo Edel Pils and Guinness on tap, they have Ezo Beer (brewed by Rogue Ales of Oregon) in bottles, along with bottles of Hitachino Nest beer, most going for around 500 yen, a price that is hard to beat for such interesting beers as St. Rogue Red, for example.

Many of the set food plates include interesting breads made with whole grains and natural yeast, and German style cold cuts including good quality salami. Should you order a beer, I am sure you will find something you like that goes well with your brew.

One of the more conveniently situated places for getting around, Berg is just 15 seconds from the East ticket gates of JR Shinjuku station.

Shinjuku Station, near East Exit, Lumine Est B1F
Open 7am to 11pm
www.berg.jp

Six Pick

on vacation this issue.

Beer Talk

on vacation this issue.

News

2009 JCBA Festival Round-Up

For details on these events, contact the Japan Craft Beer Association, www.beertaster.org
June 6 - 7 Japan Beer Festival in Ebisu Garden Place, Tokyo
July 18 - 20 Japan Beer Festival in Osaka
September 19 - 21 Japan Beer Festival in Yokohama

Special thanks to Tim Eustace for his event review in this issue. We'd love your contribution, too, so send your story ideas (or story) to brewsnews "at" yahoo.com Deadline for the next issue is Friday, April 24th.