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

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

What can be worse than Guinness?

The new Sapporro Yebisu Stout Creamy Top. That's what.The Good Beer Country Boys reported on this about a month ago, tipped off by HomebrewJapan.

Seeing that the guys at Sapporo sat on their laurels and lost their lucrative contract with Diageo for Guinness and Kilkenny (Diageo instead joined forces with Kirin to create the Diageo Kirin Company, limited), they are now responding to this upset by 'bringing out their own version of Guinness', next month.
Tit-for-tat and very childish, perhaps.
As if the latest incarnations of Yebisu weren't bad enough, they now have to bring out a 'creamy top'.Concerning beer, those very words make me cringe (but they don't necessarily make me cringe if those words are concerning say, a well endowed person of the female persuasion). I'm thinking nitrogen assisted creaminess. Arfticially long lasting huge heads (again talking about beer). Plain nasty crap taste.I could be wrong.I don't think so.
DJToucan gives the stuff a reasonably good rating on Beer Advocate.
As far as I know, he's the only one to have tasted it yet.
"...The beer has an alcohol content of 5 percent, and boasts a smooth texture with a gentle aftertaste."
"Yebisu Stout Creamy Top goes on sale at bars and restaurants from July 3rd, with plans to put it on sale to the public in a few years."


Thursday, 25 June 2009

I finally had the Rainbow 7 Hop Rainbow Ale

I've tried time and time again to get a taste of this baby.
As my friends may well know, I'm a jinx, when it comes to timing my visits to bars to try specific beers. The buggers always run out, just before I get there! It happened the last time at Maltan. I went all the way from Yokohama to Kanda and the 7 hop Rainbow ale had just ran out before I got there! I was offered the new guest beer, but I wasn't really in the mood for a mango ale.
It happened to me 40 times in December. Forty bloody times!
Ces't la vie.

Well, for the 4th time, I noticed that a bar in Tokyo had this 7 Hop Rainbow ale on tap.
It was Pangaea.
I decided to hit the place, on my way back from the dentists.
Always a wise option.

I was supposed to have a root canal procedure today.However, the dentist discovered one of the roots was infected and very, very painful.
She had to apply some medicine to the area and leave it for a week, under the cover of a temporary filling. So that meant more pain and a ban on beer.
I dutily obeyed this limitation on my lifestyle by treating myself to a Westmalle 12 Trappist beer from Yamaya in Shibuya.Not bad and one heck of a way to be an elitist street drinker!

I drank and walked and made my way to the Toyoko line which I took to Denenchofu and then changed to the Tokyu Meguro line, to Senzoku and Pangaea.

I was in luck - they still had the 7 hop ale.
However, I was told that this was batch 2. I'm not sure which batch the Good Beer Country Boys helped out on.
I'm guessing it was not this one - because this one tasted pretty good!
Not really that hop laden at all. Almost more a pale ale. Nice and smoothly made. It went down a treat. I was a bit worried about trying this in Pangaea, as I find his beer is often, well, a bit 'off'.
I feel bad for the guy, as he is not doing very well lately, business wise.
Just check out how many poeple are in his place:None.
Diddly squat.

This beer was not funky but rather very, very drinkable.
The guy also keeps his kegs in a seperate refridgerator, at the correct temperature for the beer. He then connects up the keg as you request it. Nice.
He spent some time in England and Scotland and can speak reasonable English. He is a great guy with a lovely family and it would be a shame to see his bar go under.
I just wish he would look after his beer lines better. Either the lines or the handpumps themselves really need cleaning. Something is amiss there.
He has an amazing offer on Fridays and Saturdays of all you can drink for 3 hours for just 3,000yen. That's about 6 beers, including 3 handpumps. Nice.
However, on occasion, the beer may be a tad funky, at least for the first few pints.
He also pulls that handpump way too hard and fast.
But he does have some interesting selections on tap. Right now it includes the Rainbow ale along with his very own pale ale which he made at Hitachino Nest.My advice - stay the fudge away from that pale ale. There is something seriously wrong with it. Nasty, nasty, nasty.
I told him after one sip that there was something wrong and that I couldn't drink it. He said maybe it was the different yeast. Trust me, it wasn't that. The beer was funky. Way funky.
I refused to pay for it. I felt real bad about that as he didn't even ask me to pay for it (800yen's worth), but that beer was wrong. If he cleaned the place up and cleaned the AC and glasses and pipes, etc, then the place could be a real gem. It still has lots of character but so many things there aren't what they should be. Still, he is a great guy and he tries. I recommend checking the place out and giving him your support.

If you go soon, you can't go wrong with this 7 hop Rainbow ale.
It's really drinkable.

7 Hop Rainbow Ale: 6/10

One more thing I must know... it safe?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Maybe I should learn the guitar

I did play the violin, up until I was about 8 and the school lost my violin - bastards.
A violin would be more portable and would make the ladies think you were intelligent and sophisticated. I'm not sure how wonderwall would sound on one, though.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Big beers in the big city

I was at home, determined not to go out on a Thursday night, wehn I got mails and calls from a few friends who couldn't resist the great line up at Bulldog and the nearby Towers.
The sultry alcoholic tremptresses included:
First up was a brief stop off at the excellent whisky bar, the Speyside Way.
They had an Iwate Kura whisky cask conditioned IPA on tap.She was served too cold but as she warmed she became very nice indeed. Gentle whisky and wood notes in the flavour and nose. Not a hop monster by any means, this English IPA came across soft and smooth. Gentle yet strong. Medium to thin bodied. Nice to sip. The Speyside Way offer reasonable to very good beer at good prices, considering it is in Tokyo. 1,000yen for a pint is not bad for a craft beer (UK pints!). However, they also offer half pints for 500yen. That is hard to beat.
They say they don't make much money on their craft beers (they have 4 on tap: YonaYona and Tokyo Black on handpump and 2 guests on CO2) as their main business is in the whisky. My friend can attest to that. I left after he had one pint of the Iwate Kura. He called me less than an hour later, saying he'd just spent 6,000yen, tasting whiskies with the bar staff. They do have an impressive sleection - over 900 bottles. The staff told me that in about a week they will have Yaho's Aooni (English IPA) on tap, handpump, cask conditioned. That sounds fantastic. I can't wait. I have only known of one other time that Aooni has been on tap and that was for the Towers IPA festival. Then it was served from a wooden cask. I missed that one. I do like the Aooni and would dearly love to try it from the tap. If they stick to their prices and offer it for 1,000yen a pint, this could be a good deal indeed.
Iwate Kura whisky casked IPA: 6.5/10

Next, I venured off into the big city and Ginza, to meet up with a few friends at Bulldog.

I ordered a Ballast Point sextant oatmeal stout. I was prewarned by my friends that the regular (about 3/4 pint) came in a UK pint glass, because the foamy head was so big and hard to control). Here is the beer, after the head had 2 minutes to calm down.
As you can see, that's quite a head! It also tasted like it looked, full and creamy. The head was almost a dessert in itself. Lovely! The body was a tad thin, withnotes of roasted oats, chocolate and coffee but not too strongly flavoured. I really don't care for the aggressive coffee stouts and porters. I like coffee. I like beer. I don't want to have them both in the same glass - literally. This beer was very nice and easy to drink. However, it perhaps could be a bit heavier bodied and thicker mouthfeel wise.

Next I tried the Bear Republic Apex IPA:
This was quite a strongly flavoured, highly hopped beer. Fruity zesty aroma and taste. I got a slight sourness that I didn't especially care for, perhaps from the combintation of hops. Not my favourite beerbut I think this will apppeal to fans of teh West Coast IPA. A hop head's wet dream? - I wouldn't know. My friend loved this one. It ws good but not my favourite of the night.

I then headed off to Towers to get a pint of the elusive Rogue Imperial IPA. I've been trying to get a pint of this beer for a while now, always to miss out by mere hours!
After checking with the owner that it was still available, I decided to start with a very reasonably priced and lovely Ozenoyukidoke IPA.

This is perhaps my favourite Japanese IPA (Shiga Kogen and Baird also do some fine examples) and at just 800yen for a pint, I couldn't resist.
The interesting thing I find about drining Ozeno IPA is that each pint at each location at each time is different. You can call that inconsistency or just marketing magic. The brewer often dry hops this beer differently for each bar and each barrel. I've had about 7 different variations, featuring single hop dry hopping with centennial, columbus, horizon, and others to multiple hop combinations. All have been very, very good. This one seemed different again. It was rather dry and bitter tasting and tasted well, smooth, somehow. I'm pretty sure the gas was the same. Interesting. A rather gentle Ozenoyukidoke IPA this time.

Next was the beer I really came to Tokyo for. The Rogue Imperial IPA:
Man, this was nice. The best Rogue I've had yet. Lately, I find the Rogues to be annoyingly sweet, but this one wasn't too bad. She packed apunch but was well made. Hops come through quite a bit. Fruity too, from what I remember. I was just so happy to get a pint of this that I forgot to pay attention to the taste. 1200 a pint is also not a bad price for this wonderful beer.
It's certainly cheaper than the insane price they charge for this from the bottle! Something like 3,000yen!

Lastly. I decided to heed my friend's advice and try the Baird DIPA again. He said it had gotten better since it was released at the Naka Meguro Taproom, about a month ago. I didn't like it much then. Far too sweet and cloying. I decided to give it a go again.
At first, this baby tasted very, very nice. Fruity and hops in the nose and mouth (that makes it sound like I snorted the stuff). But as I got to the half way point and beyond, it began to get overly sweet again. Masbe this needs more time to mature? I'm not sure. It's certainly not my favourite of Baird's beers. A lot of friends concur with that feeling too. Still, it would be interesting to grab a bottle of this and leave it for a 6 months or so. See if it improves.

Here's another pic of a beer I had the night before:
Mikkeller Stateside IPA:
Very, very bitter and highyl hopped. A monster. Good stuff. However, I do not recommend mixing this with fresh, ripe biwa from kyushu. It somehow produced a chemical reaction in the back of my throat that burned for over a day. Damn.
Good beer, though.

Greenflash DIPA & a Thrashing Jonno

I headed down to Yokohama tonight, to get some of the Greenflash imperial IPA that I love so much.
I heard homebrewJapan talk about a weird aftertaste. I was curious to try it again, to see.
I decided to give it another shot.
I headed to the ThrashZone - a great little bar near Yokohama Station.

They had a good line up on tap tonight:
Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA,
Greenflash Westcoast IPA,
Greenflash imperial IPA,

Speakeasy double daddy
Nagahama ale

Minoh stout
Minoh pale ale

Minoh DIPA (CO2)

Shinano snow lager

Here's my one and only pint of the night, the
Greenflash Imperial IPA
It was served very well, in a US pint glass, for 1,200yen. This is not a bad price at all really, when you conside the same beer will cost you over 1,500 in certain Tokyo bars.

I think the ideal Stateside combo would have been the well made Double Daddy, then the Racer 5, then the hoppy West Coast IPA, then the Greenflash to finish.

However, I don't have much money this month and my tooth hurts, soI had to limit myself to just the one:
How was it? Good, but not as good as I remembered. Heavy full body and lots of malty sweetness. Well hopped too. Great aroma but alas lacked a little something in the actual taste.
Still, a very nice and drinkable brew indeed.

Already in the Thrash zone and thrashing away were two good friends of mine, Jonno and Tim M.

Jonno was entertaining his lovely lady for the evening and part of his wooing consisted of grabbing the guitar from Koichi san and rocking out.
Alssso, Jonno, that rainbow guitar ssstrap really goesss with your eyessssss!

This 'music' carried on for at least 2 minutes.
As you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed the impromtru free concert.
Cheers, Jonno!

I also got to taste the West Coast (very nice but so hoppy and possibly too much so for me), the Minoh DIPA (not bad but not the best Minoh WIPA I've had and this one was on CO2) and the Stone Imperial Russian Stout (from Jonno's bottle).

A quick 30min cycle ride back and shower and blog check and now it's beddie bies time.

Suntory Malts - The Bitter

Suntory Malts - The Bitter.A limited edition, from what I can gather. Picked it up at my local convenience store for 217yen.

From the can:
"Brewed with 100% selected malts, 100% bitter hop and natural water, please enjoy the rich and deep taste of Malts the bitter."
The verdict: Not really bitter. It pours a very transparent golden straw, with a fair to good gassy foamy head. However, the head dissapears fast.
I didn't really find it that bitter. I thought it tasted tinny and metallic and thin bodied. The head dissapeared faster than a chicken in Ethiopia and it seemd to go flat quite early. The aroma was ok but it was the familiar malts aroma mixed with the can.
Another dissapointment for me.
Quite bland, really.
As I came back to the beer, I got a slightly bitter taste but nothing fantstic.
Nothing special. Dont worry about it if you don't pick one up.
Suntory Malts - The Bitter 4.5/10.
Something ain't right.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Asahi Fukkoku - you 'aint seen it, right?

Chances are high that you won't.
I think it's made just for the shareholders (perhaps THIS is the real elitist beer?).
The fukkoku beers are made in the old style, to resemble the beers of the Meiji era. That may well mean that they taste like shite, or it may mean that they may taste better than the beers mass produced today. Still, I wouldn't mind finding out.

Finally, the big 4 bring out an eletist beer!

Out in stores that are deemed worthy, from 30th June.
5.5% alc and using saaz and cascade aroma hops and I think 3 bittering hops.
Don't think anything of the can design. It looks like an apple happoshu.
However, I dare say, I'll give it a go.
I think I'm sufficiently elitist to qualify for a quick quaff.

Stay classy.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Tonight's panty creamers...

It was hot and sticky, today.
Makes me get a thirst on.
What I needed was something fruity, refreshing and full of oomph.
After my ruination on Saturday, I decided to try a couple of nice IPAs.
Namely 3 of among the best beers from Japan and the States.

I started with Japan's Shiga Kogen IPA:
Lovely. 7/10
The glass was free from Vivo! in Ikebukuro - it was their 6th anniversary and the first 100 people got this glass. It's not a bad glas.

Next up was Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA:Absolutely gorgeous!
Lovely nose and body. Nice oils in the mouthfeel. A very fine IPA.

To finish the evening's imbications, I grabbed an Echigo 90 day stout:The more I drink this, the more I like it. Good solid mouthfeel without being too heavy bodied. Warms nicely. Just a tad sweet. Great drink to just sit back, relax and sip.

Not sure if I creamed my pants, but my needs are satiated for tonight, at least.

Goodnight, cruel world.

See you in the morning.

Street 'drinking' - the 'eletist' way

F*ck yeah. That's me, Lord Pompelroy Chuwy-Saint-Chuwy, with none other than a Stone Ruination. A nice classy fruity yeasty Belgian in a freshly bought glass for my fresh fruity (he's not yeasty, ladies!)friend, SirJonnoReginaldSmythe, the Third, Esquire.
There are no premium malts on this street, my lower standard, lower class friends.
SirJonno definitely set the elitist standard bar way the f*uck up high when he purchased a very fine and expensive Belgian brew and then, THEN bought a fine Belgian glass to drink the bugger in! That's the way to do it.
I just stuck with my crazy hopped monster of a San Diegan beer and drank it 'hobo style'.

Bloody good brews, they were, too.
We were walking from Tanakaya in Mejiro to the Country& Western festival in Ikebukuro.
The festival was very good and I managed to get 5 pints of Iwate Kura beer for 1500yen. Not bad. It definitely pays to know people.

More on Saturday's travels in the upcoming post.
As for now, it's time to get very,very drunk.

Also some info on the new Baird Taproom which most of you should already know.

Stay classy.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The 'new' Yebisu - really?

I was cycling around the neighbourhood tonight, when I came across a new beer. I quickly wiped off the can and proceeed to the checkout to purchase said can.

It was the new yebisu.

Yes, they went and made another one.

So, what's the verdict?

Pours a foamy big white head on a translucent chestnutty body.
That's not meant to sound like an artistic erotic movie, rather my first impression upon seeing the amber fluid flowing freely. Okay, now I'm venturing into German erotic movies - or am I?
As usual, I never know when to stop (I think a few people would have said 'before starting this blog, perhaps?').

Here's the beer him/her/itself:
It's supposedly lagered for twice as long, has 100% malt content, uses Bavarian aroma hops and is made using Yebisu yeast. 6% alcohol and tastes it too.
Not a nasty tasting beer but not much of anything, really. Tastes a little tinny, though I'm not sure if that is actually because of the can or not.
Smells like a Yebisu (what a suprise) but the aroma of alcohol is present, not in a nice way.
Not sure how much Bavarian aromoa hops are in there.
I was quite impressed with the head rentention. Easy there, cowboy. I've almost drank the beer as I type this and there is still a faint lacing of head on the surface, though nothing down the glass.

Overall another dissapointment.
Yet still I continue trying the new beers, every time one comes out.

Oh well, another hope bubble burst.

The new 2009 Yebisu seasonal: 4-4.5/10 - tastes flat, even though it isn't.