Brews News #56
Brews News #56 - April / May 2005
Japan Beer Festival 2005
May 7th and 8th in Tokyo and Osaka
The Japan Beer Festival, an annual favorite of Brews News readers, will be held simultaneously in Tokyo and Osaka on the May 7-8th weekend this year. The Festival is Japan's largest craft beer event, with participation by a large number of Japan's small breweries. Attendees may sample an unlimited number of 50 ml pours, with a boggling variety of beer available, including imported bottled and kegged beer, in addition to locally brewed offerings. To many beer lovers, the Festival is the only opportunity to taste such a huge variety of Japanese craft beers in one location. As such, it should not be missed. This year, over 100 varieties of beer will be served.
The Tokyo event will be held as usual at the Garden Hall in the Ebisu Garden Place complex near JR Ebisu Station
Saturday, May 7th from 2:30 to 7 pm
Sunday, May 8th from 11:30 to 5:30 pm
The Tokyo event will also feature a small beer brewing display, along with 12 varieties of real ale in addition to the standard offerings. Tickets are 3,400 yen in advance, and 3,800 yen at the door. The first 1,000 attendees on both days will receive a commemorative glass.
The Osaka event will be held at Umeda Aura Hall at Umeda Sky Bldg. Tower West.
Saturday, May 7th from 1 to 6 pm
Sunday, May 8th from noon to 5:30 pm
Tickets are 3,000 yen in advance, and 3,400 yen at the door. The first 500 attendees on both days will receive a commemorative glass.
More information on the event, and how to purchase advance tickets, is given on the Web sites http://cgi.beertaster.org/user-cgi-bin/gjbf/ticket2005.htm (in Japanese, more complete) and http://cgi.beertaster.org/index-e.htm (in English)
For specific questions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (in Japanese) the Japan Craft Beer Association during business hours at 0798-70-0911.
Two Brewpub-operated Bars in Kanawaga Pref.
Bar Sankt Gallen and Trattori Mokichi
by Glenn Scoggins
Two of Kanagawa's longest established local breweries, Kumazawa Shuzo and Sankt Gallen, run brewpubs with beer direct from the brewery, a boon to all thirsty jibiiru devotees between Yokohama and Odawara. While they both boast a convivial atmosphere, an extensive food menu, and well-made beer, using the delicious water from the Tanzawa mountain range, the similarities stop there.
Sankt Gallen Brewery was established by the Iwamoto brothers, Kozo and Nobuhisa, who started brewing in San Francisco in 1990. In 1994, at the beginning of the jibiiru boom in Japan, they experimented by selling Sankt Gallen at their small Chinese restaurant in Roppongi as a 1% non-beer (although Nobuhisa hints with a smile that it was generally a little more than 1%), and in 1997 they set up their brewery in Atsugi, complementing the family business of Chinese dim sum-style food.
While Nobuhisa attends to the brewery, Kozo runs the business, including a tiny bar nearby on the border of Atsugi and Isehara cities in central Kanagawa. It contrasts with the spaciousness and deep pockets of the Kumazawa site in Chigasaki: the bar is triangular, shoe-horned onto a traffic island with Route 246 roaring by inches from the door. One red formica table seats six, while a small counter and bar space can accommodate another four or five. The menu includes typical bar snacks from Y380 to Y780 as well as a more broad-ranging Cantonese menu, all prepared by Kozo, a perfectionist in a tiny kitchen. The food is outstanding (once it arrives), as is the conversation with Kozo, fluent in English since his days at the University of Massachusetts in Boston 20 years ago.
Sankt Gallen brews four beers, including an inconsequential light pilsner unworthy of comment. Their flagship brand is Golden Ale, a medium-body, clean American-style pale ale made with Cascade hops. The Brown Porter is a smooth ale with a creamy head. My pick is the Amber Ale, full-bodied and bitter with caramel malt, winner of gold medals at the 2000 Japan Beer Cup and International Beer Competition. It will be familiar to many drinkers as "Tokyo Ale No. 3" since it was Sankt Gallen that brewed this beer under contract for the Tokyo Ale Company. All are difficult to find in liquor stores outside the immediate area, making this bar a valuable spot for discerning drinkers, despite its cramped quarters and unprepossessing appearance. If you are traveling on the Odakyu Line from Odawara or Hakone to Shinjuku, break your journey for a few beers here, since it's only a quick stumble from the station.
Shonan Beer was established in 1996 by Kumazawa Mokichi, the sixth-generation scion of the Kumazawa Shuzo sake brewery, makers of Tensei and other labels since 1872. After succeeding his father, Mokichi put his travels around Germany to good use by setting up a brewery on the Kumazawa premises, originally making a Munich-style lager with the help of a German brewmaster. The spacious site in rural north Chigasaki now holds the original sakagura, the brewery, a bottling plant, a kaiseki restaurant, and an innovative bakery (including bread baked with alt beer) called Pan a la Biere, in addition to a casual, welcoming brewpub called Trattoria Mokichi.
The trattoria's soaring ceiling creates a sunny, open space accented by skylights and wooden roof beams reinforced with iron supports, with two upper-level lofts and a half-buried "cozy" down a flight of stairs. (These are the smoking areas during dinner, while the entire restaurant is smoke-free at lunch.) The stacks of firewood piled up outside the entrance hint at the huge wood-burning stove which dominates the kitchen area, where the signature Neapolitan-style pizzas are prepared. The service is friendly and attentive but not cloying, creating an atmosphere that matches the physical spaciousness where diners can relax over their meals with no pressure of time or overcrowding. It would be hard to reproduce these qualities in downtown Tokyo.
Five beers are currently on offer, all brewed on site. Shonan Bitter is a crisp German helles with moderate hoppiness. Shonan Ruby is an alt beer with an attractive color and a smooth taste. Shonan Liebe is a schwarzbier with mild carbonation, not as sweet or spicy as some German black beers. These three are available in bottles, both at the brewpub (and selected liquor stores in Kanagawa) or by mail order, with the eloquent slogan "Tap Your Potential" on the label. The seasonal specials are an IPA called "Super Bitter" with more pronounced hops and a clean aftertaste, and a Weizen Bock from which the yeast had been filtered. Each costs Y525 for a 330-ml glass (or Y315 for a half-size thimble, to encourage adventurous drinking for the newcomer) and Y2940 for a 2.3-liter pitcher.
Trattoria Mokichi has a wide-ranging food menu both for lunch and for dinner. In my experience, the kitchen deserves as much credit as the brewery, with pizzas and pastas that change daily, as well as fish and meat dishes prepared with imagination and style. Worthy of note is the bread basket that comes with every meal, featuring over ten types of bread baked next door. Lunches range from Y1260 to Y1575, while dinner entrees start at Y980 and peak at Y2200 (serves two). While lunchtimes are filled with groups of ladies, dinner tends to attract couples and families from the surrounding area. The 120 seats inside are augmented by an attractive shaded wooden desk outside, inviting on summer nights or autumn afternoons.
Bar Sankt Gallen
337 Ishida, Isehara-shi, Kanagawa 259-1116
0463-92-5001 Open: 17:00-24:00 daily
Location: Two minutes walk from Aiko-Ishida station on Odakyu Line (one station west of Hon-Atsugi) on Route 246.
Sankt Gallen Brewery
124 Kaneda, Atsugi-shi, Kanagawa 243-0807
Shonan Beer and Trattori Mokichi
7-10-7 Kagawa, Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa 253-0082
Open: Lunch 11:30-15:00 (Mon-Fri)
Dinner 17:00-22:00 (Mon-Fri)
All Day 11:30-22:00 (Sat-Sun)
Closed: Third Tuesday of each month
(No holidays in July, August, and December)
Location: Five minutes walk from Kagawa station on JR Sagami Line (two stations from Chigasaki). The Sagami Line is also accessible from Hashimoto, Atsugi, or Ebina stations. There is a map on the homepage.
by Tim Eustace
Westvletren Extra 8 (Trappist ale, Belgium)
Send a short review like this of your recent beer discovery to brewsnews at yahoo dot com along with a photo, if possible, of the beer bottle or can.
Belgian Beer Dinner
Bois Cereste in Akasaka
Wednesday, April 13, 7 p.m.
7,350 yen (includes a light meal and several beer selections)
This month's theme will be the beers of spring. For details and reservations, contact Mr. Yamada directly.
Daytime (home) 03-3584-0859
Evening (bar) 03-3588-6292
Bois Cereste 2-13-21-B1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
New Beer Club in Kinki Region
Kinki Beer Lovers (KBL) was established in the fall of 2004 for the purpose of promoting beer culture and educating non-Japanese about the state of brews and brewing in the Kinki area. We hope to work with Japanese beer clubs in the Kinki area to create a greater awareness and appreciation of everything brew-centric. KBL holds monthly meetings in the Osaka area at establishments that focus on specialty beer. We have recently put up a web site listing our meeting schedule at http://www.geocities.jp/srktr865/beer/ -- check us out! We are also planning to run a booth at the Japan Craft Brewers Association Microbrewery Festival in Osaka this May. Please drop by and say kanpai! (Tim Eustace)
JBA Offers "Beer Safari" Saturday, May 14th
The Japan Brewers Association, an organization of small brewers in Japan, is offering a one-day "beer safari" departing from Tokyo and visiting three small breweries in the North Kanto region. A chartered bus will depart Tokyo Station at 7:30 on the morning of Saturday, May 14th, heading for Ozeno Yukidoke Brewery in Gunma, followed by Nasu Kogen Beer in Tochigi and Yamizo Shinrin Beer in Ibaraki.
The bus is scheduled to return to Tokyo Station at 8 p.m. that night. No doubt some of the revelers will continue the beer safari in several of Tokyo's pubs. The 11,000 yen cost includes transportation, beer tasting at each brewery and lunch. For more details (in Japanese), see http://www.beer.gr.jp/100/fan/050514/ . Deadline for reservations is April 15th. Seats are limited, so reserve now by downloading the application form (as a pdf), filling it out, and faxing it to the number provided.
Real Ales by Toshi Ishii at Helmsdale
Starting April 13th, Yona Yona Real Ale and Tokyo Black Real Ale (Robust Porter) will be available regularly at Helmsdale in Minami Aoyama (3486-4220, http://www.helmsdale-fc.com/helminfo.html). In addition, other real ales also brewed by Toshi Ishii at Ya Ho Brewing in Kariuzawa will be offered from time to time depending upon Ishii's brewing schedule. These include Phantom-British bitter, originally brewed by Ishii for the Mitsukoshi British Fair in 2004.
At present, Yona Yona Real Ale and Tokyo Black Real Ale (nitro version) are available only at Beer Club Popeye in Ryogoku.
New Baird Seasonal Beers
A popular early spring seasonal Baird Beer - Chocolate Coffee Stout - returned to the Fishmarket Taproom in March. Too often beer consumers lump all dark beers into one broad category equating the color black with some singular taste sensation. So it goes with the family of dark colored brews known as "Stout." The Stout category often gets short shrift in the general beer drinking populace because of its equation with the ubiquitous Guinness (stylistically, an Irish Dry Stout). In truth, though, Stout is arguably the broadest and most diverse style category in the beer universe.
In addition to Dry Stouts, there are Milk Stouts and Sweet Stouts, Imperial Stouts and Foreign Export Stouts. Stouts can be made with additions of fruit or chocolate, nuts or coffee. Baird Chocolate Coffee Stout is crafted with the specifications of a Foreign Export Stout in mind, along with post-boil kettle additions of ground Kona Chocolate Macadamia Nut Coffee. Coffee-black in color and coffee-rich in aroma, this beer features complex notes of roasted barley and malt and a wonderful underbelly of fruity and nutty flavors. Alcohol (by volume) is a robust 7.2 percent.
Also, just released on April 7th, is the Belgian-inspired Bureiko Jikan Golden Ale. In Belgium, Golden Ale is typified by a magnificent golden hue, spritzy fruitiness, champagne-like natural carbonation, and a dry, cleansing alcohol-accented finish. The chief difference between a Belgian-style Golden Ale and Baird Bureiko Jikan Golden Ale resides in yeast and hop usage - whereas the defining character of the former stems from the yeast, the characteristic essence of the latter is derived from the hops (ample quantities of noble-type Slovakian and American hops).
Bureiko Jikan Golden Ale presents itself in hazy hues of orange-gold and sports an enduring head of creamy off-white foam. The bouquet is softly earthy and herbal (deriving from ample aroma- and dry-hopping additions of Styrian Golding and Sterling hops). The mouth feel is at once soft and prickly - stemming from the interplay of caramel and honeyed-malt flavors, on the one hand, and bitter hoppiness combined with acidic natural carbonation, on the other hand. The finish is extremely clean, crisp and dry! Alcohol by volume is approximately 6.7%.
For more information on The Taproom and Baird Beer, go to www.bairdbeer.com .
Special thanks to Tim Eustace, Toshi Ishii and Glenn Scoggins for their contributions to this issue. We'd love your contribution, too. Please contact us because we can't contact you unless we know you want to contribute.