Reviews & info on some beers, bars & pubs in Japan (mainly Tokyo/Yokohama area) - with an extra large serving of nonsensical jibbbbah jabbah thrown in:

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Well, I FINALLY cleaned my beer glasses

I used to have loads of bottles, in my old place.
I didn't know what to do with them.
I rememebr making this post, way back when.
I finally got rid of over half of them.
I also cleaned out my beer glass cabinet, so now hopefully all the glasses will remain dust free and clean, until needed.

Washed all my glasses and boy, did it take me some time to do!
Here's a photo collage of my beer glasses:

Click on pic to see full size version - it's big (500kb).
Recognize any?

Here's a pic I took of the 'cleaned' cabinet, with the glasses:
Next, I'm gonna decorate my beer fridge with some more DIY bottle cap magnets...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A mini Oktoberfest in my home - minus the tight leather pants and ass slapping

Well, I don't know about the ass slapping.
The night is young, after all...

Here's a drunken video I took of some ass slapping at Yokohama Oktoberfest 2006:

Apologies for the commentary.

I was tempted to go out to the Hibiya Oktoberfest again, for the 4th time in 5 days, but I resisted the urge.
Perhaps I should have gone, as the weather now forecasts rain for the remainder of the Oktoberfest, until Sunday. 
Never mind. As consolation, had a mini Oktoberfest in my home. Courtesy of some fine German Bamberg smoked beer and some fine German sausage!

The beer was the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen:A very good exmaple of a meaty smoked lager.
7/10 and a veritable meal in a glass.

Try drinking this beast of a beer without making the sound "GRRRR!!!"

I thought the best thing to eat with this would be sausages.

So I did:
The sausages were mixed and very good. The potatoes were lovely too.

After this, I opened the Echigo 90 day stout I still had left over from my 3rd day Oktoberfest binge-from-a-cooler-bag.
I think this is a very, very nice stout. 7% alc and gets better as it warms. Reccommended.

Well, now it's Thursday and I'll be YOkohamam bound (but not gagged) later on, so no Oktoberfest tonight (Fujisakura are bringing out their lovely smoked beer, in replacement for the sold out but very nice dunkleweissen).
However, I'll be there in spirit and may make it out for another foray tomorrow at the beer orgy extravaganza, so keep an eye out for me.

Who knows, maybe there will be a bit of ass slapping?
Stay classy, San diego.

The Master debate - how long will it last?

It seems those Good Beer & Country Boys have got all those Joe the Plumber big 4 beer drinkers commenting on the new Asahi beer, The Master.

Well, I noticed that it had been advertised for release this week, so I tried to pick one up, to take with me to the Oktoberfest in Hibiya, last night.
Couldn't bloody find one.

What I could find, though were these bad boys:Shiga Kogen IPA. Lovely. Had 2 of them.

Yaho American style ESB. Not bad.

Iwate Kura pale ale. Nice example of this style. Kindly opened and displayed by my asistants.

Iwate Kura weissen bock. Kindly opened (and tasted) by my assistant!

Fujisakura weissen. I also earlier had the rauch, which was very good.

Shiga Kogen IPA. Told you I had 2.
I think by this time other people were drinking my booze, as the Oktoberfest beer had stopped. Bastards.

Shiga Kogen wheat ale. I must have opened this in Bulldog - very cheecky of me! Lovely beer. Fruity and light and smooth. Nice summer ale.

So the evening wasn't a total loss.

Had a very good Oktoberfest, from what I remember. Drank Fujisakura to get my glass and support the Japanese craft beer industry and then continued to suport the Japanese craft beer industry, from the comforts of my big cooler bag of chilled goodies.

So what happened to the Master?

Well, funny thing was that when I opened the fridge this morning, there it was - a can of The Master, sitting there, staring me in the face.

Weird. How did it get there? Who put it there? How did they know?
It was also weird, finding a chicken curry in my beer fridge upstairs, later on.

I think someone must have been drunk shopping, late last night.
You can never trust your own subconcious.

Okay, The Master:After all that, it was nothing special, really.
Dryer and a little hoppier than the malts, I thought.
But left a slight astringent aftertaste (was that due to the alpha acids?) and the hint of bad acohiol flavor. It's listed as 5.5%. Tasted like it.
It didn't taste that bad but neither did it taste that good.

Make it hoppier and a tad drier and take away the nasty aftertaste and you'd have a completely different beer - but then would the big 4 ever do that?
Let's hope so.
I'll keep on trying their new beers, in the vain effort that one day I'll find one that I can drink, over and over again without getting bored of it.

A lot of people talk up the Suntory The Premium Malts.
Hmmm... It is ok at times but all the time?
That's another debate.

As for this, I think I can say that for me, the Master Debate has finished and I need to go to sleep.
Good night.

Hibiya Oktoberfest 09 - info, pics & svhdklgfhglf!


I have no idea what that means, but it more or less somes up an Oktoberfest in May, in Tokyo.

This year was no less weird and f*cked up.
Stil, it's an excuse to get hammered, so that's not so bad.
What is bad is the ever increasing price of drinks at this event.
The overpriced Germanbeers go for 1,300yen for 400ml or 3000yen for 1000ml.
I remember at the Yokohama Oktoberfest last year, the lovely guys at the Spaaten/Franziskaner stand increased the price of their booze and decreased the size of the glass!
Thank you, perhaps to the organiser and importer of said beer, Zato Trading.

They have a collection of about a dozen German themed beer restaurants across Tokyo.
They import Spaaten, Franziskaner in barrels and other German beers in bottles.

I thought the theme of an Oktoberfest was celebraton, but it seems the organisers are using overall profit as the theme for this year, and probably every year after this.

I certainly couldn't see signs of a faltering economy in Hibiya park this week. Japanese people seem to be perfectly happy to fork out 1300yen for less than 400ml of German beer or 3,000 for a maas (1l glass). They were happy to queue up for ages to get their hands on some foot long German sausage. The reality, fear and worry over the current global financial crisis could simply be left at the entrance to this fantasty world of beer, sausages and bad corny music.
These guys provide the 'entertainment' this year:

Boring stuff. They hardly move. The stage is tiny and looks miserable. Only the poeple in this one tent can actually see the band and there is not much to see, anyway. Pretty badly designed, if you ask me.

Compare that with Yokohama in 07 or 06:

Quite a different atmosphere, yes?

It was much better 2 years ago, when they had the legends that are Tomas and Toni:They do EVERYTHING!


Status Quo:

Country and Western:

They even do the Prost song wiht more vigor. I love those boys:

Unfortunately, the organisers didn't bring them back.
Tomas and Toni, it was sad to see you go, go, go...

Here's a photo of yours truly from a year or two ago, in Hibiya. I tried the German foot long and it wasn't bad not not at all cheap. I alos tried several beers, as they weren't as expensive as they are now. Plus, back then, they had Lowenbrau (brewed by Asahi over here) and some other cheaper beers on offer.
The beer and food at Yokohama was cheaper, too

Personally, as it is held in apulbic park and as the is so bloody expensive and as I don't have much money, I stokc up beforehand wiht cheaper booze. However, I do have my pride and respect for Japanese craft beer, so I stock up at craft beer stores, such as the amazing Tanakaya, in Mejiro.Then, when you get to Oktoberfest, you just need to order one beer (to get the glass), then refill from your cooler bag! I order my beer from the Japanese stand, to support Japaanese craft beer. It's also very, very good beer!
Last year, the choices were Fujisakura and Yokohama beer. This year, it's just Fujisakura. They have the weissen, dunklewiessen (which has now ran out), the pilsner and the rauch (brought in to replace the dunkle weissen).

Here are some pics from this year's Oktoberfest:

I usually start by grabbing myself a cool, fresh Fujisakura weissen or rauch.
One of the best weissens in Japan. Lovely.

Then you can just go and sit down with friends and enjoy your beer.When you're done with your first, you can just 'refill', using one of your cooler selection.
Here's a Shiga Kogen IPA. Lovely stuff. 380yen at Nearby Nagano Sake.You can then walk around, feeling the buzz from the booze and possibly meet some more friends!

Time for a Yaho American style ESB:The good thing about Oktoberfest is that it's so easy to make new friends:
The ladies even opened my bottle of Iwate Kura pale ale and poured it for me! - now those are ladies!Drunk as f*ck but still ladies.

You may even meet mysterious types, such as Mr.Mystery, seen here drinking a mysteriously dark and strong Spaaten optimator.
He also used the idea of bringing along a back up supply. His choice in the store was limited to the Grolsch weissen. Not bad but a bit too sweet for me.
All you need for a good evening is beer, a bottle opener and a nice woman...Voila!

Now, let's try that again. This time, with three nice beers, and three nice women!Well, perhaps 2 out of 3 isn't bad...

As the evening goes on, everybody gets more and more drunk, making it more and more easy to make friends with almost anyone.
For me, that's part of what Oktoberfest is about. Everyone 'kampai's with you. I happened to know one of these guys but they may as well have never seen me before, the reaction would have been just the same - "let's enjoy! Let's get drunk as f*ck!"
Even the suits, manning the big main tent started to loosen up and get into the spirit.Suits, I salute you!

By this stage, the booze is really kicking in and people start telling tall tales...
Mr.Mystery was not impressed.Time for one or twop more beers, after they call last orders. I'm still drinking when everyone else is sucking on an empty glass.
Then before you know it, everyone has gone and your glass is empty, not to be refilled until next year...Time to leave it all behind again.

Hibiya is okay, but it depends on the weather (a lot of it is in teh open air to rain messes wiht everything), the music and the beer. The people are pretty damn great, I reckon. no fighting, no problems, everyone is so friendly. Nice place to be. I'll be back there tonight.

However, Hibiya isn't as good as Yokohama.
The bands there are bigger and better.

For example, here are 2 horny tumpeters:

They were the horniest guys I have met for a long time:

Here's some silly dancing:

Here's a clip from Yokohama with yours truly forgetting to watch his P's and Q's (excuse the language, but I was drunk as f*ck):

The Japanese/German conga is fun for all the family!

It's very hard to resist:

Okay, so what does that have to do with Hibiya?
Well, it just goes to show how different the 2 festivals have become.
The Yokohama one charges a small fee to enter the place (I think it's about 400yen), but once you get in there, the atmosphere is really, really good. Hibiya lacks that, perhaps as most of the males there are salarymen, unsure of themselves and the music is at best bland and unoriginal and even the musicians and the 'fake Germans' manning the beer pumps don't seem to be feeling the spirit.

I mean, things have gotten so bad, that the idiot drunken clown doesn't even go in the fountain anymore.
What is the Oktoberfest coming to?

I think we should all have a wet t-shirt Oktoberfest fountain party with free booze and buxom wenches!!!
What sayeth you, buxom wenches?

I'm off back to Oktoberfest tonight, in the rain, not to see some wet t-shirts but to see if the place can live up to it's old ideals...

...if there are some wet t-shirts on display at the same time, that won't be so bad, either..

p.s. I apologise for all this toilet humour.
If you want some more, check out the new Oktoberfest toilet game, from Yokohama Oktoberfest (Where even the toilets were better organised than in Hibiya!):

p.p.s. if you still fancy some nice beer after the festival ends, you can do worse than head on over to the nearby Bulldog bar, where we usually end up.

Whatever you do, have a great Oktoberfest and don't forget what it's all about.

Monday, 25 May 2009

How do you better an interview with Greg Koch?

Those Good Beer & Country Boys have announced they will have an interview soon with Greg Koch, the founder and guy in charge of Stone beer, in San Diego.
Bloody hell.
How can you improve on that?


Just interview this guy:

Eat your heart out, Good Beer & Country Boyeeez!!!!
I got me an interview with the most interesting man in the world (besides Greg Koch)!

Something to listen to, whilst in between posts

Craft Beer Moonlight - New Kawasaki brewpub

I found out about this place, thanks to my good friends Tim Maloney and his encyclopaedic wife, Emi, I heard about a new craft beer bar in Kawasaki, up near the Tamagawa at Noborito.

Tim and I decided to check it out.

It's called Craft Beer Moonlight.
Here's the map:


As you can see, it's not far from Noborito station.

This place has only been open 2 weeks.
It's situated on a small side street, just off the main road from the bridge crossing the Tamagawa river.
As you can see, it doesn't look that special. Almost like a warehouse of sorts, or a shop.

It all feels, well... ...local.

No. Not THAT local.

Once inside, you can see there is seating for around 30 or so. The guy in charge is standing to the right. Yamanaka san.
He is a very nice gentleman who also teaches (advises) home brewing and sells home brewing kits, which is quite interesting.
There is a rumour that this place may be connected to the recently closed down Tama beer, but I'm not sure about that (I think that may not be true)
The place has 4 beers on tap. They have 6 taps but only 4 are being used at the moment (update- the beers change every few weeks so keep chekcing the website for updates).

The beers are:
  • pale lager
  • lager
  • strong ale
  • porter
The quality basically matches the order I listed them, with the pale lager being perhaps the best of the bunch.

Here is the pale lager:
It's very, very light and refreshing. so easy to drink. I had two of these babies (hey- they are ust 250yen each!). Probably barely 3.5% alcohol. This makes a nice refreshing summer drink. However, if you are looking for something more, don't expect it from this little darling.

Next up is the lager:
A bit more body to this one but somehow lacks flavor or balance. It tastes a bit strange - perhaps too young? Not enough body or mouthfeel here. Nothing special about this at all.

Next was the strong ale:
'strong' being an unusual name, seeing as it was barely 5% alcohol. Again, this just tastes too young. It's not right. Tim said he thought he could tastes the syrup, as if he were sampling a hoembrew beer that wasn't yet ready for bottling yet. I think perhaps this is still too young. Not so nice and I was starting to taste the water, it was that thin bodied.

The last of the selection was the porter:
I thought thios was the worst of the lot. Tasted nasty. Very, very bitter and way, way too young. Something just wasn't right here. A bit like the fruit beers or light lagers at Tama no Megumi. Their pale ale and shwarz are great brews but somehow the light beers clash with either the yeast strain or the water they are using - it's weird. This beer seems to be the opposite. As the beers got darker, the strange funky water feeling got stronger. Weird.
For me, this wasn't easy to finish.
I don't really want another one, even at 250yen a glass!
I'm just hoping that it gets better, with time.

They also have light dishes, such as pickles (200yen),
Spare ribs, chicken, Chinese dumplings, gyouza, etc.
The people who work here are really nice and kind and are happy to talk with you. Yamanaka san also speaks quite good English and imports all his materials from the UK.
The lady behind the counter is friendly enough and if you ask her nicely before hand, she will try to pour you a beer with a normal head,as opposed to 40% foam which you may get otherwise.

An interesting thing they do here is that they allow you to fill a 2l pet bottle with beer for only 800yen! That's a pretty good deal, if you like this beer. Personally, I'd think about a bottle of their refreshing pale lager and taking it down to the river and just chilling in the sun, watching the world go by.
This guy has 2 bottles of the lager.

As you may have noticed, all these beers are going for just 250yen a glass (the pale lager and lager being jokki sizes).
That's incredibly cheap, especially for a craft beer.
- update. Since then the cheapest price is 300yen for a glass, with some beers going for 800yen (Barely wine/Belgian strong ale)

A friend thinks they can't possibly make money at these prices.
I'm wondering if these beers are not the result of a home brew class?
Perhaps the older guy is teaching home brewing or 'advising' and the results are sold in this place?
It would be a really interesting idea.
Very hit and miss with the quality of beers produced, though.
- update. the beers are getting better.

Still, I may look into this a bit more, next time I'm up that way and see if it would be possible for yours truly to pump out a batch of something special... ...uh, hang on. That sounded nasty.

Craft Beer Moonlight: 4.5-5/10

Not really close to anything but the Tamagawa river. Still, it's a nice friendly place but not really what I'd call a bar or a pub. More like a local shop with a few taps of homebrew (no offence to the excellent homebrewers out there but that's what it tastes like).
Still, I like the easy going, family style atmosphere at this lace and I'll come back, next time I'm passing through. But it's probably not worth a special trip.
- update. Since I found they were selling homebrewing suplies, this place has become much more interesting!

I'm hoping they will improve and bring out some more styles of beers.