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

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Long time, no posts. Hope to start up again soon.

Off to Maltan today.
3rd anniversary. Great event.
Maltan's 3rd anniversary
. 5th December, 4-7:30pm
It's mental. 3,600 all you can drink.
Bring your own glass
and food. Serve yourself. Once the barrel is gone, it's gone. Last year, I woke up next morning, covered in vomit, heavily hungover- in Gunma - fantastic!!!!
Read about it here.
The beer list includes:
Minoh imperial stout, handpump (very good)
Hidatakayama red bock
Onidentetsu pale ale
Shiroyama cassis lambic (girl's drink)
Fujisakura rauchbaock (good)
Fujisakura weizen (good)
Nagahama ale (good but very unique yeast flavor)
Minami Shinshu apple hop
Augus blanche
Oh!La!Ho! IPA
Iwate Kura barley wine (oak aged, real ale)
plus maybe more.

Check out my old link for more info.
Maybe see some of you there.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Too drunk to remember much

Yokohama beer fest was a blast.
I wanted to go back today but woke up too late and got Sat and Mondays opening times mixed up. At 3pm, I figured I still had 2 hours or so drinking time left then realised the thing closed at 4 on Monday. Doh!!!
Should've woken up earlier.
Gonna look for a list of winners and post it online.
Don't remember much as I was a bit tipsy.
Met soooooooo many poeple, olod fends and new ones.
Here's a pic from the start.
This guy is either a cow or a tiger. One half of the famous UshiTora craft bar in Shimokitawa. Great guy. I always get confused as to which guy is the cow (Ushi) and which guy is the tiger (Tora)!

I do remember Yokohama got gold for their weizen, Nihonkai Ishikawa silver for their pilsner.

I also managed to pick up silver medal for the most annoying person in the festival!

Someone else must have got silver for something because I'm wearing their medal!
I just don't remember who...too smashed.

After the festival, a few people headed to the Nakameguro Taproom to meet up with the New Zealand brewers from Tuatara brewing. Had a great evening drinking, tasting and chatting with them (tasting their beers, not THEM).

This is one of the brews I remembered as being very good:
Here's a pic of a few of the guys from last night:
L-R: Ry Beville of Japan Beer Times, possibly the business guy/investor/brewer from one of the New Zealand breweries (sorry, I talked to you but I was very very plastered and can't remember!), Phred Kauffman (importer of Rogue, Mikkeller and many other fine beers as well as owner of Mugishutei craft bar in Sapporo), Dominic Kelly (manager of Hashigozake in Wellington, New Zealand and representative of the New Zealand brewers.
A good crowd turned up to taste and give feedback on the New Zealand beers.
The first time for them to come over here.
Look out for these beers in the near future!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

It's been too long.

Been off the blog for far too long.

Working my 'normal' job, doing other jobs, updating boozelist (even that hasn't been every day).

I managed to get in a short vacation, up in Hokkaido and northern Japan.
9 days, 12 breweries, many more bars, LOTS of beer.
Hopefully some pics, tales and info on Northern Japan's wonderful array of booze in an upcoming post.
Need to post about sooooo much.

Quick reminder for this weekend, the annual Great Japan Beer Festival is kicking off Sat, Sun & Monday.
Advance tickets for 4100yen or pay on the day for 4500yen.
From 2-6pm Saturday,
1-5pm Sunday and
12-4pm Monday.
The PDF flyer is available here.
It's probably the best of the festivals.
Hopefully beer quality will be good this year.
Expect a LOT of people.The list of participating Japanese breweries is here (in Japanese!).

Of these, I recommend trying Gotenba Kogen's weizen rauch, minami Shinshu oktoberfest, Hakone pilsner, Tazawako kolsch (best in Japan) & 8yr aged rauch
(might be getting too old now), Kuninocho marihana brown, Shiga Kogen Indian summer
saisson, Yamabushi saison1 & IPA harvest brew, Chateau Kamiya helles, Nihonkai pilsner, North Island coriander black (might be a bit strong), everything by Swan Lake, Harvestmoon schwarz, Minoh stout & DIPA.

There are a lot of imported beers going to be available too. Here is a list of those.

On top of this, there will be some special beers brought over from New Zealand, for tasting.

It looks like another good beer festival.

If you are going, why not take advantage of the great bars and breweries Yokohama has to offer?
Not far away is Pivovar Yokohama, the wonderful Czech styled small bar/brewpub, in the building housing the Yokohama Beer brewery. Recommended beers include the Anaconda wheat and the Scorpion Deathlock DIPA, if they have it.
Not far away but not so easy to get to is the cracking Czech bar, Pivo. On tap are Urquel, Bernard and a Bernard cerny dark lager as well as a semi dark Urquel master. Best value Urquel and best quality in Japan. The food is good, too.
Not too far away, near Kannai is the famous and impeccable Craft Beer Bar. A small bar but with about 10 Japanese craft beers on tap including usually Minoh, Shiga Kogen, Fujisakura, Swanlake, Baeren, North Island, Baird and others. Nearby is the British bar, 3 lions, with several craft beers on tap as well as some great home made food!
don't forget a newcomer to the craft scene, Bar Green Charcoal & Grill, on Motomachi street. They serve a few craft beers (now Isekadoya, Baird and Yokohama beer) was well as some crackingly fine food.

Heading back to Yokohama Station and we can find the excellent Thrash Zone (serving a few Japanese craft beers as well about half a dozen fantastic US imports at unbeatable prices and quality pours - 1 of my favourite bars) and Yokohama Cheers (was Belgian themed but is now embracing several Japanese craft beers and European beers).

Yessir, Yokohama has lots to offer, beer wise!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Beer in Japan iphone app new and improved!

Yep. He's gone and done it again.

Mr.BeerinJapan has added a few more bars to his very useful and if you are new to Japan or don't-know-where-you-can-find-good-craft-beer necessary app for the iphone/ipod touch.

Download the app from itunes:
He's added listings for bars in the Yokohama area and even added info on one of the best beer stores in Japan, Tanakaya.
Included are very useful maps and info on opening times, atmosphere of the bar and overall quality of establishment. He also includes some helpful advice as well as special offers available to users of his application.
It really is a good application and it just gets better.
He is adding more and more bars to it.
One plus with this is that once you have downloaded the app, you don't necessarily need to be on-line to use it. You have access to info, phone numbers, maps, everything. Perfect for those without Japanese i-phones (visitors to Japan) and those with an ipod touch and have no access to wifi.
I myself have been to all the bars and more but even I have a use for this app as I sometimes forget a phone number or occasionally get lost (more like most of the time!).
I have used the app to get to the Cat & Cask pub in time for the ozenoyukidoke IPA event. I used it to find the Craft Beer Bar (a notoriously difficult place to find!).
I can even use the app to get 300yen off an order of food at the Aldgate (saves printing out the coupon of the Aldgate's website!)

Here are a few sneak preview shots from the updated version (out very soon!):

Main page:
Tokyo selection (includes Tanakaya):
Yokohama selection (as far as Fujisawa):
As an example, Craft Beer Bar:
Lists an off-line map you can use as well as the google maps online equivalent. Phone number & website at one easy touch of the screen.
Useful to have.

Check it out.
If you are coming to Japan, I recommend downloading it, for the maps and coupons alone, if not for the contacts, reviews and ideas for other bars.
I get nothing from recommending this app to you guys. It's just my personal recommendation.

p.s. if you are headed to Tokyo/Yokohama, be sure to let I or Mr.BeerinJapan know - we'll try and hook up for a pint!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

DH (Kentucky's finest)

Bourbon barrel aged - bottle matured.

Quite something else.

This is not a beer I'm talking about.
It's a person.

Well, more than a person, this guy has become a man legend -a megend.

Quite an achievement in such a short time over here.
Within a few years he has touched the hearts of many.
All who have met him have bore witness to his strength of character and purity of heart.
He is as honest as they come and one of the kindest, nicest man I've ever had the fortune to have met.

He is leaving soon. Tomorrow, in fact. Leaving to return to his homeland of Kentucky.
He will be missed.

For those who have never met him, they feel as if they have, just by reading his words on the very well known and widely read Good Beer and Country Boys blog.
He blogged about beer, about life, about almost anything.
It was always interesting, enjoyable and highly entertaining.

The only thing better than reading his wonderful accounts of life & beer was meeting the man himself.
I first had the privilege of doing that in Tokyo (think it was at the Bier de Garde beer festival, or was it in Bulldog?), then again & again & again in Numazu, at the Baird fishmarket Taproom.
DH makes no secret of his love of Baird Beer and everything Bryan and the team stands for.
He also makes no secret of his enjoyment of one particular brew - Angry Boy Brown ale.

I'm pretty sure that just his words alone encouraged many a drinker (myself among them) to order a pint of Angry Boy, just to try and experience the sheer joy that DH expressed in his online accounts.

He has been and I hope will continue to be an ambassador for beer, to those new to craft beer and to those already well versed in it's innumerable pleasures.

DH, dude, it was a pleasure to have met you and it's an honor and a privilege to consider you as my friend.
p.s. you can post the cheque to the following address...

Here are just a few pics of the man himself:
(I'll post more when I find them)

The new adventure awaits...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

I'm not boozing weissen - it's serious research.

Trust me. I'm a scientist.
Well, I used to be, anyway.

Some of you (i.e. the one person apart from my mother who possibly reads this blog) may know that I am now starting to brew my own beer.

Good lord, is there no stopping me?
Now, I will be able to get comfortably numb in my own living room.

Well, I'm thinking of brewing a weissen tomorrow.

Now, to be sure exactly what kind of flavor profiles I want and to fully understand the complexities that make up a good weissen, I have decided to perform some mature and responsible research in the form of a serious scientific experiment, involving the delicate deconstruction of the workings of 4 weissens that I just happen to have chilling in my fridge.

It's just pure coincidence that, by undertaking this arduos experimental undertaking, in the name of science, I will probably end up getting well and truly smashed.

I am prepared for such an eventuality.
The bed is but metres away.

Tonight's contenders will be (based on what was in my fridge):
  • Franziskaner hefe weissen
  • Weltenberger hefeweissen
  • Fujisakura hefeweisen
  • Gotenba Kogen hefe weissen
Looking good.
2 very nice German specimens, together with a pair of perhaps Japan's best weissens.
How will they fare, under the analytical analysis of a boozing boozer?
When I started drinking quality beer, wheat beers were my favourite style.
I would search them down in Japan and abroad.
I've been to Munich about 5 times, always after the fantastic Bavarian hefeweissens and also the lovely helles.
My favourite weissen bier has to be Schneider.
Man, that stuff is good.
In Japan, you can get it in the bottle at Baden Baden beer bar under the train tracks near Yurakucho for 950yen for 500ml. Best price I know of in Tokyo for a bar. It's sometimes on sale in Tanakaya beer store in Mejiro (best beer store in Japan).
Unfortunately, I don't have any in my fridge (boo hoo!) but the 4 I DO have are very good examples of the style - or are they?

We shall see...

Contender number one:
Gotenba Kogen weissen
First impression was "wow, light color!".
Gentle, subtle amount of yeast in the bottle.
Slightly dry taste, though the banana and clove aroma so much the signature smell of a good hefeweizen is there.
Just a tiny bit bitter and dry tasting, this one.
Not that bad but sorry, not that good.
(To be fair, the bottle was best before last October!)
I recommend popping by the Gotenba brewery restaurant near Fujioka station and taking advantage of their 3grand all u can drink and eat offer. It's a good one. You get at least 4 beers on tap: Weissen plus her sisters, the pils, schwarz and the seasonal cousin from out of town.

Contender number two:
Fujisakura weissen.
(Music stops).
What... ...the booze is going on?
This is NOT a hefeweizen.
Well, not any more, anyway.
To be fair, this beer was best before June, LAST YEAR.

This is what it should look like:I took this at the lovely Sylvan's Fujisakura brewery/restaurant, on the gentle slopes of Mt.Fuji, near Kawaguchiko.

Well, slightly different, this one.
perhaps I got he black sheep of the 'weisse' family?

I decided that, as a scientist, I should go and give it a sip.
I knew I should have drank this a long, long time ago.
This is what happens when you put off that special moment, whether it be drinking the nice beer in your fridge or telling that foxy lady across the bar that you just want to rip her clothes off and handle her handles (hey, she's not bad for an 80year old). Sometimes, in the right situation, it's actually okay to say these things. Just not right now.

So take it from me, guys, or girls (my mind is drifting now), don't think. Just do it.
Enjoy the moment.
Savor the flavor, the taste, the aroma.
Then, as you spend the next 2 to 5 in minimum security for sexual harassment, you'll have at least two wonderful mammaries to look back on and enjoy.

Someone's starting to show signs of C2H5OH adjusted behaviour... ...or are they?

This is not time to stop and think! I need another beer - fast!!!!

Contender number friggin' three:
Pansiskaner hefeweissen.Wow. Nice.
I know I can always count on this lovely baby from Munich to shine.
It's a great hefeweizen.

You can get this baby on tap in Japan, courtesy of Zato Trading. These are the guys that hold the annual Oktoberfests in Tokyo, Yokohama, Sendai and Fukuoka (I think).
They are also responsible for the hefty price. Perhaps due to this, a few bars that used to have it on tap or in bottle no longer do.
Zato does however have a number of restaurants that serve Franziskaner hefeweiss, hefeweiss dunkel, Spaaten helles, premium bock and the lovely 7.2% Spaaten Otimator dopplebock

Well, this one wasn't skunked.
Although it was best before June 09, just like the Fujisakura.
Both bottles had spent the whole time in the same fridge, therefore at the same temperature.
BIG difference in how they turned out!

I'd like to show the head brewer of Fujisakura, Miyashita san, the photo of the skunked weissen. It'd be interesting to hear his thoughts on what happened.
I can't complain though, as it was clearly a long way past it's best before date.
no hate on Fujisakura.
I love those guys.
I go there about 5 or 6 times a year.
Good people, nice fried potatoes (cheapest thing on the menu!), decent beer.
ALWAYS get sh*tfaced hammered and leave the place smiling.
Nothing at all to do with beer farts.

Back to the Frannie.
She's handled herself well, despite her advanced age (oh lord, my mind is drifting again - sometimes it's a curse, having this imagination). Even though she's well past her prime, she still smells pretty good and tastes not half as bad as I'd imagine (gags).
Decent amount of yeast in her, seemingly without infection (where am I going with this?).
She gives really impressive head, considering her advanced age (hopefully that is the first and the last time I'll be typing that sentence).
Solid, creamy, long lasting.
Her body colour is nice and her body feels sufficiently silky and body weight is medium to a tiny bit thin.
There is a certain astringency that I put down to the old age - she has that 'old age' taste ( I certainly hope you don't know what I think you think I mean).
All things considered, this old girl didn't fare too badly, considering.
Not the best she's been and obviously past her prime, but I'd give here a go again, if that's all there was.

Contender number -hic!" - four:
Weltenberger - not cheeseburger - hefeweissen.
Well, what could possibly go wrong this time?
can't wait to find out...Diacytyl?
Got a pronounced buttery taste. Weird. It's not as I remember this beer.
Just 490yen at my local-ish supermarket, this is usually a great deal.
Brewed on the banks of a river in Germany since 1050, Weltenberger makes some nice beers.However, this bottle was a disappointment. Perhaps it wasn't transported very well. Perhaps I'm not in full control of my taste buds.
Bit sweeter than usual. Is it me? Tastes a tad weird. Or am I?

Today's champion on a paultry 6.5/10 is the Frannie kanner!
Man, I kinda bumbed out on luck with these beers.
Two of them were clearly aged. One was not as good as I remembered. The other was drier than I remembered. A good point to remember about weissen is that fresh is best.
Once you get your hands on a lovely sweet German, flip the top off her and get your lips round her, fast!
You never know when suddenly she becomes too old to enjoy to the max!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Home for Hopheads.

What happens to all those beer experts who try one too many hoppy beers?

They end up in the Home for Hop Heads.

This place is a haven of sanctuary for all and any hop heads who have just burnt themselves out on hops. Believe me, it happens. Far more than people would like to admit.
These once proud men who drank by the UK pint, of anything that was brewed in this wide, wide world, no matter what the IBU was - they drank it.
And now they are paying the ultimate price.
They have become drooling, incoherent hop heads.

You may have noticed the apparent absence of the legends among foreign beer experts such as Mr.Scarrel, Mr.Choggins or Mr.Hambers (names altered to protect their identities)?
Well, perhaps they all succumbed to the hop or ended up at the Home for Hop Heads and that was were they spent their last hoppy moments in this wonderful world. Drooling after hops.

The latest batch of residents can bear witness to the awesome power of the hop.
Kids, pay attention: too much of the hop and this is what you will become.

I was granted rare permission to visit the reclusive Home for the Hopheads.
I was searched at the entrance for hidden hops and had to swear that I hadn't drank any hoppy brews for at least 48 hours previously (apparently, then can smell it).
Security was high. for good reason.
The last resident to 'escape' left the premises, disguised as a sailor and was last seen on the train to Yokosuka. Since then they have beefed up security precautions.

I am told it can take up to 6 months to rehabilitate hop heads back into the normal world of the pale ales and brown porters. Some never come back.

Here, in the Home for Hop Heads, I managed to get a brief glimpse of a few of these once great men, as they paraded about like drooling vegetables.
They are expertly cared for by the professionally trained Home for Hop Heads staff.

Just take a look at this poor bugger:He used to be a veritable encyclopaedia of information on almost any brewery or brewer in Japan. Now look at him.
I'm afraid it was just a case of one too many hoppy pints and now he doesn't even know who he is any more.
He had to be weened off the hops over a period of several months. Here he is, being spoon fed by the wonderfully patient staff.
It almost pains me to think about how such a well informed man could recduce himself to being spoon fed liquid soup, just to survive.

I joined a few of the recovering hopheads during their tea time break. I tried to interview this fellow but it was like talking to a raving lunatic.I couldn't make out anything he was saying. He kept muttering things like "Ay kannae ge nae aibeeeyeeeews!" and "gizza wee dram o aipeeeeyaaaay, yer sazzzarnakel yeh!", "och, ah miss maaaah chinook, so ah doooooo!". Total gibberish. The staff later informed me that this one was well into the advanced stages of Hopheadism.

The experts here try to use normal life routines and procedures to jaunt their memories and hopefully bring them back out of Hop Headism and into the real world once more.
Here the staff are trying to have a Christmas party:I don't think the poor Hophead above even knows what his name is (he kept muttering "I'm, I'm, It's Chuwy...or...Chris?..."), let alone that it is Christmas.
He looks too far gone. Better for everyones sakes if they just take him out the back and shoot him.

They have had some limited success in the 'outings for Hop Heads' programme.
This sponsored program takes hop heads that are deeemed low security risks on little day trips, so stimulating their mental systems and hopefully snapping them out of their hop like trances.
Here little Jimmy HopHead (for the sake of anonymity) is still beaming, after returning from a day trip to Disneyland:
Update: Unfortunately, staff later discovered his ear-to-ear smile was due to the bottle of Harvestmoon IPA he had somehow smuggled out of Mickey Mouse's Magical Kingdom.

So there you have it, a never before seen glimpse into the limbo that is life after hops.
Once you hop, you can't stop.

Kids, be careful how you handle those hops.
Don't become a hop head.
It'll be the ruination of you.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Czech this out - PUB CRAWL!

A friend of mine, Jiří Kotýnek is in town.
Jiri is Czech. He is a brewer.
He brews for the Nihon Kai lub in Ishikawa.
He likes beer.
He asked me to take him to some interesting bars and have some good beer.
I do like a challenge!
PUB CRAWL!!!!He gets off work today at 1:30. Then it's on!
I'm hoping to have already started, in the Nakameguro Taproom.I'll be drinking Baird beer and probably 2 of the 4 beers Nagano Trading have on at that place.
I'll be trying the Stone Arrogant Bastard and the Ballast Point big eye IPA.
Lovely beers!

I’m hoping Jiri can meet me there and we can have a few warm up drinks.
Then we go to Yokohama and Pivovar Yokohama, where we hope to meet the chief brewer, Suzuki san. Suzuki san worked breifly in Prague at the famous brewpub Ur fleku and met Jiri, so it should be a nice reunion - with lots of beer!
I want to try the Apache Scream IPA!
Then we go to the Thrash Zone, to meet Tim Maloney and maybe one or two others (Chuck?).I'll also try a Big EYE IPA there and compare it with the Taproom quality.
I'll also recommend Jiri try a Nagahama ale and maybe Shinano, as well as Minoh beers.

Then it's off on the Toyoko line to Shibuya and maybe a brief food stop
then to the Aldgate, where we are hoping to meet up with a few home brewing friends who may want to meet Jiri and 'pump him' for information.After a few beers there, we rush to Towers and Bulldog and Nagano Sake miura if we have time.
If not, we go straight to Popeyes, and the last bar of the day.
It's a tiny bar, with just SEVENTY beers on tap.
It's gotta end at Popeyes.
Not sure if I can manage all 70 beers, but I'm gonna try and see how far I go.
Once you get there, you're not going anywhere else.

Hoping we can last the night.
If you feel like coming out, why don't you join us?

Come on, it's Friday!

Just take care not to drink too much, or you never know how the evening may turn out.
Wahatever you do, have a great weekend.