Brews News #94
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Brews News #94 - July/August 2009
All articles by Bryan Harrell unless noted.

Beer Here

Malt & Malt
Real Ale and Single Malt Whisky Event at Popeye

Sunday, July 12 from 2 to 4 p.m.
4,000 yen admission

This event pairs hand-pumped real ale with small shots of single malt whisky. Admission includes four 160 ml pours of real ale, along with five 20 ml shots of malt whisky. Extra drink tickets will be available for an additional charge. Admission is limited, so get your tickets now by phoning Popeye at 03-3633-2120.

Cancale Beer Garden Event in Nagoya

July 15 - 17, from 5 to 11 p.m.

Cancale is a cheerful beer bistro next to Nagoya station, specializing in French-style food and offering a tremendous selection of beer. To celebrate their first anniversary, Cancale is holding an event which features a sit-down buffet for 2,500 yen, along with an all-you-can-drink special for beer, wine and cocktails for 2,000 yen. Cancale is on the 12th floor of the JR Central Towers; for more information phone 052-562-5570 or go to

Fishmarket Taproom 9th Anniversary

July 18 - 20

Baird Beer's Fishmarket Taproom in Numazu is celebrating its 9th anniversary this month with a three-day event which will feature a 1,500 yen all-you-can-eat buffet, yakitori grilling below the Taproom from 3 - 7 p.m. daily, brewery tours at 2 and 4 p.m. each day, and live music on Saturday night. For details, contact the Fishmarket Taproom at 055-963-2628, or visit

Bruxellesis Beerfest at Delirium Cafe

July 19-20th from noon to 9:30 p.m.

The Delirium Cafe and Belg Aube chain, a major importer of unique Belgian beers from small producers, will be holding a Belgian beer festival this month. There are two types of tickets; the 4,000 yen ticket includes a special tasting glass and seven different beers, while 2,000 yen ticket gets you four beers in a plastic cup.

Delirium Cafe Tokyo
3-2-6 Kasumigaseki
Kasumi Dining 1F
(03) 3501-3181

Park Hyatt Beer Garden

July 21 to August 9, August 15 to 31
6 to 8 p.m. (last seating at 7 p.m.)

Sankt Gallen ales will be featured in an all-you-can-drink special being held at the 1st floor Deli of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Shinjuku. The 2,500 yen charge includes a "Chef's Appetizer Plate" plus unlimited Golden Ale or Shonan Ale (made with Shonan oranges) for up to two hours. For reservations and inquiries, phone (03) 5323-3635.

Park Hyatt Tokyo Delicatessen
3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Beer Lovers Club at Bois Cereste

Saturday, August 29 from 5 to 9 p.m.
3,500 yen admission

This is a great event that happens at Bois Cereste only four times a year. The 3,500 yen admission gets you ten tickets. Most Belgian beers are just two tickets, and tickets can also be used for food items. It only takes a little calculation to figure out that this makes everything at Bois Cereste remarkably cheap for one of the nicest places to have a beer in Tokyo. For a map and more information on Bois Cereste, go to

Beer There

Belgian Beer Dinner at Bois Cereste

July 8, 2009

An interesting combination of diverse Belgian beers and seasonal foods drew five beer enthusiasts to the July dinner of this monthly event. The beers started out with a very aromatic St. Bernardus Wit, followed by Mort Subite Oude Gueuze, which paired nicely with the lightly steamed Hamaguri clams. The distinct sourness of the beer put the clams, which were unseasoned, in a good flavor framework.

The next dish was corn on the cob, with several varieties served in small pieces. Among the types were "gold rush," "mirai" and "pure white." About half were lightly steamed, and about half were served raw. Most were very tender and surprisingly sweet; interestingly they went well with the tangy sweetness of Wit Kap Stimulo, a rich and heavy golden ale, which was followed by Reinaert Tripel, with an even heavier profile and alcohol of over 9%, tempered by a solid herbal hop bitterness.

The next dish was salmon saute with pickled daikon and cabbage, paired with an interesting red ale, Ichitegem Grand Cru, which had a noticeable lambic aroma and flavor. The sourness again matched well with the seafood, while the pickles contained a tiny bit of sugar which provided a decent offset to the sour beer flavors. Fortunately, the salmon was mellow and not at all salty.

The meal wrapped up with a wedge of Muenster Cheese topped with caraway seeds, and served with Gordon Highland Scotch Ale. The dark and slightly smoky richness of this beer matched well with the funky flavors of the cheese. This style of beer went out of popularity in Scotland years ago, but is still brewed in Belgium under license.

The Bois Celeste Belgian Beer Dinners are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and feature around four to seven Belgian beers matched with an array of small dishes of seasonal foods. The next dinner will be on August 12th. For more details, phone (03) 3588-6292.

Bar Beat

Nagano Craft Beer in Shinbashi

The Shinshu Osake Mura is a really cool standing bar near Shinbashi station that features sake, wine and craft beer from Nagano prefecture. Introduced to me by Tim Eustace, the bar offers tremendous bargains on several Nagano-produced craft beers, not to mention great prices on an immense selection of good sake from the prefecture.

For starters, cans of Yona Yona is just 260 yen, followed by Tokyo Black and Indo Ao-oni (Yona's IPA) for 280 yen. Bottles of all Shiga Kogen Beers are just 380 yen, while five varieties of Minami Shinshu beer are only 500 yen. Plus, the Golden and Amber ales from Oh! La! Ho beer are 490 yen each. In short, you can do a lot of stand-up drinking here for very little money. Plus, there are little plates of various snack-type foods available, but most are suited for sake.

Shinshu Osake Mura
Shinbashi Eki-mae Bldg. #1, 1F
2-20-15 Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: 11 a.m. to 9:30 pm (last order) Weekdays
11 a.m. to 6:30 pm (last order) 2nd & 3rd Saturdays
Closed: Sundays, holidays and 1st and 4th Saturdays
Note: They will be closed on all Saturdays in August

Six Pick

The Move to All Malt

On my way home from the office, after I'd written the last Brews News, which contained a comment on Kirin Ichiban Shibori going to an all-malt recipe, I happened upon Asahi's newest product, an all-malt beer called The Master. The interesting turn of events caused me to break my decision to avoid writing about mass-produced beer. I figured it was time to compare the main-line all-malt products from Japan's Big Four brewers. Since Yebisu, produced by Sapporo, essentially functions as their "all-malt" line, it was easy to assemble a cast of four popular beers from the Big Four made entirely from malt.

Since Kirin Ichiban Shibori was one of the players, I also decided to see how the new version compares with Kirin Lager and Kirin Classic Lager. Back in the early 1980s, one of my jobs was writing the English-language annual reports each year from Kirin. When Ichiban Shibori was launched, I recall that it held a "flavor" position on Kirin's taste graph in a position right next to the old Kirin Lager. At the time, the two beers were virtually identical in Kirin's positioning, the only differences being that Shibori was microfiltered, and not pasteurized like Kirin Lager was at the time. Also, Shibori was 5% alcohol compared to 4.5% for Kirin Lager.

While I was at it, I decided to include this year's version of Yebisu Cho-choki Jukusei, a comparatively massive 6% alcohol beer with a longer lagering time and a remarkably deep flavor. Finally, to this I decided to add an interesting all-malt beer made by Echigo Beer for a Tokyo supermarket chain, Reijoh Pilsner, which normally sells for 198 yen a can, when it is not on sale for 188 yen or, sometimes, 168 yen.

Note that I have not given any rankings on the beers. However, in the spirit of summer beer drinking, enjoy this exercise.

Asahi The Master
This 5.5% beer is thin and rather light, and somewhat lacking in character. Like nearly all Asahi beer, the hops are all in the bitterness, and largely absent from the aroma.

Kirin New Ichiban Shibori
This 5% beer is very juicy and "fresh" tasting, and just a bit on the sweet side. Accordingly, it is lacking a tight malt structure, and could use a bit more bitterness.

This 5% lager has some initial sweetness, followed by a strong malt structure and good hop bitterness. Overall, it features the best flavor balance.

Suntory Malt's
This 5% beer is solid and dry, with a tangy aftertaste and a good hop bite. The Super Premium version has a higher quality flavor with superior malt definition.

Kirin Lager
The taste is clean yet thin, but bitterness is good in this 5% beer. There is a certain "fresh" taste similar to Ichiban Shibori.

Kirin Classic Lager
Still 4.5% like the old days, with a richer, mellower flavor that has good bitterness, particularly toward the end. The solid malt structure is not like the old days, but is still a hallmark for this beer.

Yebisu Cho-Choki Jukusei 2009
The 6% alcohol rating is perfectly in line with the deeply flavored beer, though the higher price likely discourages many from drinking it more often.

Reijoh Pilsener
At 5% alcohol, and only 198 yen per can, this is a good, solid all-malt beer.

Beer Talk

Pilsner Season?

All this hot weather must be getting to me. These days, I find I must have cold pilsner, though after a few I end up switching to a hoppy IPA or something like that. I guess the good thing about beer is that there are enough kinds to assure you of variety throughout the year. Has anyone else noticed that their taste in beer is affected by the weather?


New Baird Taproom in Harajuku

Bryan and Sayuri Baird are expanding their operations with a new Taproom slated to open in Harajuku some time in August. The new place is being planned as a kushi-yaki and yaki-tori (barbecue on small sticks) pub and is certain to be popular. Keep an eye on their website ( for further developments.

Popeye Now Non-smoking

The popular Beer Club Popeye in Ryogoku has gone non-smoking effective June 30th. However, smoking is permitted in the outside balcony seating.

2009 JCBA Festival Round-Up

For details on these events, contact the Japan Craft Beer Association,

July 18 - 20 Japan Beer Festival in Osaka
September 19 - 21 Japan Beer Festival in Yokohama

Nihon Oktoberfest Schedule

Of course they are not in October (except for perhaps the best one, in Yokohama) but still they are fun to join with friends and hoist a few beers together. Most all events also offer some Japanese craft beers at prices lower than the German imports, so make sure you try a few if available. The links below do not have specific information for all events yet, but check back a few weeks beforehand for details.

August 5 - 9 Joetsu Region
September 18 - 27 Sendai
October 9 - 18 Yokohama Akarenga Soko

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