June 2009


Last night I placed an order for 25kg of Weyermann Pilsen Malt. I’ll be using it with my new grain mill:

One careful owner('s footprints)

One careful owner('s footprints)

New to me that is – if you look carefully you might see the previous owner’s footprints on the base!

I’m surprised at how small this thing is – I imagined the rollers to be about 30cm long when they are actually only about 12cm (guessing). Heavy though.

The 25kg bag of Pilsen malt is costing 5,722yen, including tax and delivery. I realised this morning how cheap it is to make a beer with grain. That bag can make six pilsners – 21L at 1.046 – which works out at 954yen a batch. The equivalent using DME would be 5 packs – 3250yen.

I’ve never really thought about about how much it costs to make a beer before – but as a Scotsman, those figures are hard to ignore. And the difference is even greater if I’m making something like an IPA.

I don’t intend to make all pilsners with this grain – I’ll be using some to make IPA and other beers also. It might not well suited to those beers but if I mix with Munich or Vienna or even DME, I’ll get away with it. I could have got some 2-row also, but with this bag I have enough goodies at home now to make 6 or 7 beers. That will probably take me to the stage where I’ll have more beer at home than I can feasibly drink before leaving Japan without turning into a vegetable. Getting 2-row also would be just ridiculous.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across this review of Craft Beer Moonlight on Chuwy’s blog.

In Seoul there are plenty of places that make and sell their own beer. Ok, it might be all generic German – but at least there are some places. Tokyo has TY Harbour. That’s it. I guess you could include Taproom in there also, though technically the beer isn’t made on premises. So even though Chuwy said the beers needed improvement, I had to go along and see the place.

The website has some convoluted instructions on how to find the place which resulted in us getting completely lost. Much simpler instructions are:

Map

Map

1. Go to Noborito station. From the ticket barriers, go left, then take the exit on the right with stairs going down.

2. At the bottom of the stairs turn right and walk along the road. Keep walking past the shops along the road by the side of the railway track until you get to the crossing in front of the next station (about 5 minutes walk).

...until you come to this crossing, then go straight

...until you come to this crossing, then go straight

4. Cross the track and keep walking straight. You’ll pass a bunch of shops including a Kains supermarket. Keep walking. On the left you’ll pass some waste ground, then some more buildings, and finally you’ll reach Craft Beer Moonlight.

Why not get off at the other station? You could – but I don’t know what it’s called and the express doesn’t stop there. My way may not be the fastest, but it only takes about 10 minutes and it is the easiest – believe me, you can get lost in those streets very easily.

Craft Beer Moonlight

Craft Beer Moonlight

Craft Beer Moonlight

Craft Beer Moonlight

Inside was remarkable full of Japanese locals:

Cheers, ears

Cheers, ears

Decor inside is as unpretentious as the outside – more like a local community hall than a bar.

The menu lists several beers – Pale Lager, Lager, Bitter, Strong Ale, Half & Half, Porter, Stout – the white board at the back tells you which are available on the day. Sadly the Bitter wasn’t on.

Menu (Click to enlarge)

Menu (Click to enlarge)

This is 300 yen of Pale Lager:

Pale Lager

Pale Lager

Porter:

Porter

Porter

We tried all the beers on offer – Pale Lager, Lager, Strong Ale, and Porter. In honesty, all of them had a sweet-tinge to them, like the taste of LME or a kit. The staff claim though that although some of their beers use extract the four available today don’t – either she’s getting mixed up or the beers are a little young.

Of the four, the Porter was best – not too creamy with nice bittering which hid most of the sweetness. Second best was the Strong ale – strong bittering, light, and a dark caramel taste. The Lager was less sweet and a little more bitter than the Pale Lager.

As well as beer, there’s food available – and it’s pretty good. You don’t expect much for 100~300 yen, but these 300yen dimsum and gyoza were lovely:

I'd go back for these alone!

I'd go back for these alone!

Food really was a surprise there – I wish other places would take note (Taproom, for example) that bar food can be cheap and tasty.

The owner – Yamanaka-san – wasn’t around. According to the female staff member who served me – who apparently makes the beer with the guy in the kitchen – he’s busy advising other breweries and so only comes once a week for a few hours. I didn’t see any of the homebrew kits that Chuwy was talking about being on sale.

Although I tried to talk with her about beer – I’d brought my own IPA for them to try, which I left with them – I got the impression that she was more interested in talking with my Japanese friend about it than me. After our initial chat the only other time she started conversation with “us” is when I left to go to the toilet.

That could just be a language thing or it could be a cultural thing (I’m sure she is Chinese, not Japanese) – but it kind of bugged me. I also asked whether it’s possible to see where they make the beer and was refused with “I’m not even allowed in there” – in which case, how can you claim to be making the beer luv?

This is definitely an interesting little place – I enjoyed the food, and it was superb to see local Japanese enjoying craft beer rather than generic Asahi/Kirin, and buying beer to take out. The beer quality isn’t quite there yet, but what do you expect for 300yen, eh?

On Sunday I received an email back:

Dear Sir,

I tasted your beer and find very good but a little too hoppy.

Sadat Yamanaka
CBC CO.,LTD.

I don’t think we’re going to be seeing hoppy beers there for a while (and the Chinese woman’s reaction to the ingredients in my IPA when we were talking about the hops – “that must be expensive to make” – backs that up) – but I hope they work on getting rid of that kit-like sweetness. If they do, this could be an interesting little place, especially when I want that dim-sum and gyoza.

Moonlight is closed Mondays and only open until 9pm weeknights.

On the way back to the station I found “English Pub Best” by accident – it’s about a minute walk from the station.

English Pub Best

English Pub Best

Seeing Shigakogen Pale Ale on the menu and craving something hoppy, I decided to give the place a try and see whether they had anything good.

You can have a pleasure time with Drinks.

You can have a pleasure time with Drinks.

First time for me to see the phrase “Cash On” – I would see it later in the day in another place also. I’ve only just realised now it means “Cash On Delivery”.

Inside the place was a bit like a “ghost bar” – it had been open since 11am but no customers.

Love the keg placement

Love the keg placement

Placement of the kegs was hardly inspiring. As was the huge head on the Shiga Kogen. Why can’t Japanese get that English pubs don’t serve beer with head like that?

Kinshachi IPA and Shiga Kogen Pale Ale

Kinshachi IPA and Shiga Kogen Pale Ale

Next to the Shiga Kogen is the only IPA on the menu, and possibly even the last bottle of it. Is it just me or does this photo look like it has been taken in a prison… with beer?

The Kinshachi IPA was a typical Japanese IPA – too sweet and not hoppy. I’m pretty sure I had this at the Craft Beer Festival a few weeks back.

The Shiga Kogen also tasted sweet, and also a bit funky. In case it was my tastebuds being destroyed from the sweet craft beer, I downed half a pack of mints – but it still tasted the same. Next time I see this on tap somewhere else I’ll need to try it – because I don’t know whether it really was funky or whether it was supposed to taste like that. Certainly the keg placement doesn’t exactly give one confidence in how they keep their beer.

Tempting

Tempting

There were a few Belgians that I wouldn’t have minded tasting, but with a DVD of some 1980’s American dude wearing cheap Hush Puppy shoes playing LOUD piano jazz annoying me – HOW is this an English pub?! – we left. Time for real beer elsewhere.

No surprise the place is empty when you are advertising yourself as an English pub but playing crap 1980's American piano jazz

No surprise the place is empty when you are advertising yourself as an English pub but playing crap 1980's American piano jazz

Next stop was the train back to Shimo-Kitazawa and Beer Rock. Pretty easy to find – out the south exit, go straight past the McDonald’s and Game Zone, then take a right at Mister Donut, and first left.

Beer Rock

Beer Rock

Beer Rock is in this week’s Metropolis special “Tokyo’s top beer bars & restaurants” guide (which would be better named “Tokyo’s bars & restaurants that paid us money to be included” guide – no Popeye, no Nakameguro Taproom, no Vivo…. excellent guide, Metropolis) so I was a tad worried the place might be full. Thankfully (for us, not the owner) it wasn’t:

Beer Rock

Beer Rock

I liked Beer Rock a lot – several beers on tap at excellent prices (under 1000 yen a pint is rare), a good range of bottles, nice food (potato and blue cheese hot salad was very nice), a good relaxed atmosphere, and a very friendly owner (we talked for about 30 minutes about different beers). Beer Rock only has two flaws: (1) the live music on a Saturday night (cheap sound system), and (2) it’s down the road from Ushi Tori which has a wider selection of beers on tap. Apparently Beer Rock will have two new taps next month though since they are borrowing a beer server from  Kurakura (which used to be around the corner until this month).

On draft at Beer Rock (I only tried the first)

  • Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nector – very nice; the hazelnut is subtle, almost like vanilla or almond
  • Hitachino Nest Sweet Stout
  • Hitachino Nest Weizen
  • Hitachino Nest White Ale
  • Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Ale
  • Suntory Premium Malts
  • Yona Yona Real Ale

All these beers going for under 1000yen a pint (some are US pint, some are UK pint).

Good selection of Japanese beers including Minoh, Iwate Kura, Shiga Kogen, and one of my favourite J Breweries: Hakusekikan (remember that Brown Ale that I love?)

Japanese Bottles

Japanese Bottles (click to enlarge)

From the non-Japanese side – Rogue, Anchor, Pilsner Urquell, Erdinger, Vedette, London Pride & ESB. I could drink beers for a long time here – if I didn’t know that Ushi Tori had more on draft that I want to drink just around the corner.

Iwate Kura IPA and Hakusekikan Pale Ale

Iwate Kura IPA and Hakusekikan Organic

Iwate Kura IPA had an aftertase of caramel at the back of the tongue, though strangely don’t remember whether it was hoppy or not. The Organic was like a malt weizen.

But these beers:

Shiga Kogen IPA and Hakusekikan Pale Ale

Shiga Kogen IPA Harvest Brew and Hakusekikan Pale Ale

What can I say? The Shiga Kogen IPA Harvest Brew must be one of the best examples of a Japanese IPA there is. Very hoppy. I could drink this all night. Off the top of my head, excluding Baird, the only other Japanese IPA that comes close is Preston IPA (Yokohama XPA would be third, but not nearly as good as Shiga Kogen and Preston). Preston IPA is in Aldgate now and tastes amazing – get it while you can.

If Beer Rock was around the corner from me, I’d happily call it my local. It’s a much friendlier and cheaper place than Ushi Tora. Less than a year old, I really hope it continues.

But with the promise of other beers on tap, I had to pay a visit to Ushi Tora before going home.

You may recall I’m not a huge fan of Ushi Tora – but right now I have a craving for Ruination after drinking it in Popeyes a few days ago (which I didn’t write about – well if I wrote about every beer I drink I’d be writing forever!) and I thought they might have it. Unfortunately they didn’t:

Draft beer menu (Click to enlarge)

Draft beer menu (Click to enlarge)

Also unfortunately, they gave me another reason not to like the place – namely this guy, one of the two chefs, wiping his nose with his fingers then dipping the same fingers, unwashed, into a bag of cheese and sprinking it on a pizza.

WASH YOUR HANDS!!!

WASH YOUR HANDS!!!

No, I didn’t get a photo of it. It ranks alongside the second most disgusting “chef” thing I’ve witnessed in Japan, namely the chef in Hemel using a spoon to dish out some ketchup, licking the remaining ketchup off the spoon with his tongue, then dipping the same spoon into mayo – then serving both to a customer.

Beer wise:

  • Nogne Imperial Stout was amazing – sad that the bottles taste different
  • Kinshachi Green Tea was just WRONG and BAD and NO NO NO – not my choice but I ended up downing the half pint in one just so we could move on
  • Shonan Super Bitter IPA – didn’t seem hoppy at first but I grew to like it
  • Sankt Gallen Pale Ale Ushitora version – flat since it’s a “real ale” but nice and hoppy, though a little of that IPA taste I don’t like (but am starting to like)
  • And either Daisen Belgian Dark or Daisen Weizen – can’t remember for sure but whichever one it was, it was nothing special.

Ushi Tora will move premises in July I hear. I hope the place improves at the same time.

Back home for a nightcap:

Yoho Seasonal 2009 American ESB and Samichlans Bier Strongest Lager Beer In The World

Yoho Seasonal 2009 American ESB and Samichlaus Bier Strongest Lager Beer In The World

I wasn’t expecting much from these – and American style ESB and a beer that looks like it wouldn’t look out of place in a tramp’s hand – but I was pleasantly surprised. The ESB was lovely and malty – and the 14% “Strongest Lager Beer In the World” was super complex, almost like an Imperial Stout but with a complex malty Scottish ale body. Completely unexpected. I would order both of these again in an instant.

Sunday was a bit of a write-off.

A few weeks ago when trying the Westvleteren 8 & 12, the sugary tingling got me to thinking: I have a tin of LME and a bag of corn sugar that have been sitting unloved since I started homebrewing – maybe I should use them with some cultured Leffe yeast to try to make a sugary tingly Belgian.

I shelved the idea on account of not having any Leffe. And it probably being a crap idea anyway.

But on Saturday morning when my Sakeland order didn’t turn up – my fault for ordering too late Friday – I thought: What the hell? Let’s try it. All the ingredients are things I don’t really want to use in other beers anyway:

The S-33 seems to be a bit of an unknown – Fermentis claim it’s good for Trappist beers, other sites saying it’s Edme dry yeast and more of a general purpose yeast. With that “unknown” factor, I’m unlikely to use it for something a beer I care about – far too much uncertainty about how the taste will be affected.

Similar for the hops. The Saaz had been sitting under my desk for weeks – don’t know what condition it’s in (though it smelt OK). The Hallertauer – how close it will be to German Hallertauer, I have no ide (AA is 7% which is fairly high). Again the unpredictability makes it difficult to use these in beers I care about.

I hummed and ha’d about whether to make a Leffe Blond – which doesn’t include crystal – or whether to add crystal and make a Brown. In the end the decision was made for me – I completely forgot to add the crystal. I should know by now it’s not good to brew with a hangover.

The Sugary Tingly Belgian (Maybe)

11L filtered tap water
1.5kg tin of Black Rock LME
(approx 12L boil)

28g Organic New Zealand Hallertauer Leaf AA 7% – FWH from 70degrees + boiling 45m
8g Saaz Leaf AA 3.5% – 15m
8g Saaz Leaf AA 3.5% – 1m

500g corn sugar (added at flameout)

Ice added to cool and bring the volume to around 12L.

I decided to transfer everything into the primary – including the hops. Let’s Drinking with enjoy Our IPA was fermented that way and it came out very good – with the uncertainty around how much flavour I’ll get from the Saaz, I decided to try leaving it in there.

FG: 1.057-8 at 25
IBU: 41 + FWH – but that’s assuming the Saaz is healthy. I’m probably looking at around 40IBU altogether.

It will probably come out a bit hoppy for a Belgian – but hoppy is good! (Especially if the yeast turns out not to have much character!)

After adding the ice, the temperature was around 34. I put the bucket into the fermentation chamber to cool down, intending to add the yeast later – but the S-33 that I rehydrated in a little wort was going crazy and threatening to spill out the cup, so I just pitched it. It’s been in the fermentation chamber at 19 for 2 days now – I may take it out of there after a few days to give a final fermentation blast at higher temperatures… depends on whether I need the space!

I’m not particularly expecting this brew to come out stunning – it’s LME, corn sugar (I didn’t have citric acid to make candi sugar), a yeast which may or may not have Belgian influences, and unpredictable hops. But what the hell, at least I don’t have the ingredients cluttering up the house anymore! And actually, I’m quite excited to see how this will turn out – whether it will have a good or bad sweetness, whether it will taste Belgian at all, and how the hops will turn out.

Yesterday I wrote a post about my visit to Kanda, but afterwards I decided to pull it. Apologies to all who clicked on the link and found nothing.

Why did I pull it? If you’ve been following my twitter you will know. Quite simply, the guy running JHA bar is a cunt – refusing to serve us any food for no reason. Rather than having a detailed writeup of why he is a cunt on my blog, I just want to say that and leave it at that. I can’t remove JHA from Boozelist because it isn’t under my control, but I certainly will never be going there again, and I’m not including JHA on my Tokyo Beer Map.

Here’s the rest of the post on the other two places:

Next stop was KuraKura. It took us a while to find it – I’m not the best at navigating when famished – and when we got there all the tables were packed. The owner, in between rushing around, pointed to a high table and said we could stand there and drink. “Can we order food also?” I tentatively asked, dreading that he’d say no. “Sure,” he replied.

Completely different attitude to the asshole at JHA.

The menu at KuraKura

The menu at KuraKura

10 craft beers on the menu plus Hoegaarden and Ebisu. Quite expensive though – while there are some other places that charge more for a half pint, most of them offer the option of a full pint, which is a tad more economical. The Coconut Porter, for example, would be 1640yen a pint based on two half pints.

IPA and Isakedoya pale ale were both nice and hoppy. Coconut porter tasted like coconut essense rather than toasted coconut. Kolsch and Swan Lake Amber were both reasonable – the Kolsch being quite light, but good that it wasn’t sweet.

KuraKura is OK. I wouldn’t make my way here specially though – certainly not at the moment when, inexplicably, the walls inside seem to smell like poo. I hope that goes away.

KuraKura

KuraKura

The atmos was kind of stifling – like they’re trying to be a “high class” restaurant but with only so-so bar food (but maybe the food is because they’ve just moved location and they’re ironing out flaws) – and that, with the expensive small glasses, wasn’t my glass of beer.

We moved on to the 3rd place – Maltan.

Maltan

Maltan

Maltan was at the opposite end of the scale – very informal, everyone in there seemed either pissed as a fart, just out the office and thinking “ahh, finally, a beer”, or with their totty engaged in cheeky talk. After being in there for a few minutes, three people who had been in KuraKura ran in – literally exploding with freedom as if Dancing Queen had come on the stereo.

Maltan probably has the weakest selection of drafts – but not that bad. Before discovering places like Popeye, I would have loved here – especially with Nest White Ale on draft.

Beer - part 1

Beer - part 1

Beer - part 2

Beer - part 2

I can’t remember who made the guest beer – but it was a porter and pilsner. Pilsner was so so. Maltan’s own real stout wasn’t up to much either. W-IPA wasn’t as nice as I remember. And the fish and chips was probably the worst I’ve ever had in Tokyo.

BUT, I liked this place. It’s relaxed. They have a good bottle selection. I might not come here if I’m really wanting a hop-hit – but if I was in the area, this is probably the place I’d choose.

Saturday I went out to do some photography – a hobby that I have neglected since starting to make beer! It was fantastic to be out with a camera again.

My walk through the streets of Harajuku led me to Shinjuku. For me, Shinjuku is a place pretty much void of decent beer. Maybe others know better than me, but the only places I know of in Shinjuku are:

  • Frigo (Belgian)
  • Christon Cafe (has a few Belgian bottles)
  • an izakaya that serves Ginga Kogen white beer on draft
  • the place under Dubliners that has craft beer

… and a few assorted bars that have your standard selection of Belgian’s and British beers. Nothing particularly special or different or hoppy.

So upon arriving in Shinjuku I decided to head to Shinanoya and see whether they had anything worth carrying home.

On the way there, though, I accidentely stumbled across a Scottish bar called Hazelburn! Previously there was a Scottish bar in Ginza called – wait for it – Scottish Glamour (!) As well is having a dubious name, it had no Scottish beer and had a cover charge – any bar in Scotland that tried to impose a cover charge would be torched by the natives. So I wasn’t expecting much from Hazelburn.

I was pleasantly surprised. Not only do they have Scottish beer and a few English regulars, but they promised TWO IPAs, including a Scottish IPA!

The beer list

The beer list

First order was naturally half pints of both IPAs.

Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

First half pint of the Twisted Thistle IPA was pretty good – hoppy, bitter. It has a little bit of Scottish characteristic in that it was a touch syrupy like a Scottish ale, but drinkable. Real hop heads would probably wish for more hop flavour though – and when I moved onto drinking a pint of it later though, it seemed less hoppy than that first half pint. Not sure whether it was my imagination, or whether it was my first hops of the day, or whether it was because the barrel for that first half pint had been newly cracked open, but the pint wasn’t as good as the half pint.

But whatever – they both ran a dance over the Greene King. Take a look at this photo and tell me what’s wrong:

How much alcohol?!

How much alcohol?!

An IPA with 3.6% alcohol? Give me a break. The Greene King IPA website says that “Greene King IPA is currently Britain’s favourite cask ale”, which makes me slap my head in disbelief. It tasted like Belhaven Best or John Smith’s smooth – there are less hops in this than in a can of Coke.

Bar staff chatting with the punters

Bar staff chatting with the punters

There's a few tables behind this, a few to the right of the bar, and some more in the back - not huge, but not as small as I expected

There's a few tables behind this, a few to the right of the bar, and some more in the back - not huge, but not as small as I expected

Hazelburn is a friendly little place. The bar staff seem to chart with everyone at the counter (in Japanese), and when I responded to an American guy’s question of “Anywhere else round here I can get hoppy beer?” with “No, but there’s this place called Popeye” – the staff all nodded in agreement. Similar nods when I mentioned Takanaya. These guys know beer.

They also sell copies of this British beer magazine:

Beers of the World

Beers of the World

At 1000 yen, it’s around the “Rest of the World” subscription price for an issue, and not too far off the 4 quid cover price. Doesn’t tell you about homebrewing, but has some good writeups of British craft beers and bars – I bought the two issues Hazelburn currently has since I want to read a bit more about the British beer scene.

In addition to draft, they have some bottles too – Bomberdier Satanic Mills, Banana Bread Beer, Black Wyon Stout, St Peter’s Grapefruit, Traquair House Alse, Courage Directors Bitter, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Young’s Kew Garden Gold, Old Peculier, Hobgoblin Circlemaster, Newcastle Brown Ale – were all in the menu, with some others in the fridge including Fuller’s Discovery Blonde Beer which is rather hoppy and my favourite of the Fuller’s range. They also has some Brew Dog:

Russian roulette

Russian roulette

But after the cack that was Storm, you wont can’t me paying 2700 yen a bottle for Brew Dog in a hurry – that’s about 15 quid.

Unfortunately the IPAs are “specials” at Hazelburn, so I don’t know whether they’ll have anything similar when they run out. It’s certainly going to be within my top three places to visit in Shinjuku though – the other two are the Ginga Kogen selling Izakaya and Christon Cafe – especially since it’s on the way to  my number one place to visit in Shinjuku though, especially since it’s on the way to Shinanoya.

Sakura street

Sakura street

Hazelburn is just down Sakura street (between Family Mart and Megishi in the photo above), maybe the 3rd or 4th (of thereabouts) building on the right.

Hazelburn, in the basement

Hazelburn, in the basement

Map:

Click for large size

Click for large size

The street next to the Hazelburn is Sakura street and the big street in the middle is the large street with Donki.

Shinanoya (another site) is a few blocks down and to the left. It currently looks like this:

Shinanoya

Shinanoya

A map:

Click for large size

Click for large size

In the map above, the square to the right of Shinanoya shows Donki. I’m pretty sure there’s a few small side streets missing from this map though, so check the website for proper maps.

Not the biggest selection of beers…

About 75% of the beer range

About 75% of the beer range

…but they usually have some pretty unique stuff on offer. I picked up Nogne 0 Double IPA, Nogne Imperial Stout, Mikkeller Imperial Stout, Samichlaus “The Strongest Lager Beer In The World” Beer (14%), Yoho’s 2009 Seasonal American ESB (!), and a whole bunch of Sankt Gallen: Amber Ale, Brown Porter, Kokutou Sweet Stout, Sweet Vanilla Stout, and their two special “Father’s Day” bottles:

Japanese Father's Day beer (!)

Japanese Father's Day beer (!)

The night finished with a trip to Shinokubo for Korea town and some less refined alcohol:

Soju and beer

Soju and beer

After a bottle of soju and a few rounds of the generic Asahi/Kirin,  I ended up opening the Nogne 0 Double IPA using balcony railings (no bottle opener). It was pretty warm, but gosh, did it taste nice.

Back at the house, I cracked open the Nogne Imperial Stout, Mikkeller Imperial Stout, and Sankt Gallen Sweet Vanilla Stout. I’d had the Nogne on draft at Popeye just a few days ago and it was amazing – not nearly as good in bottles, too much of an “alcohol fumes” taste. The Mikkeller was totally different from the Nogne, very complex flavours in there and a much meatier body. Still a bit fumey but less than the Nogne – would love the try it on draft.

The Sweet Vanilla Stout.. tasted better in the bottle than on draft at the Craft Beer Festival a few weeks ago, but it still has a taste in it I don’t like – a hint of BBQ briquettes or something. Don’t know what. A lot of people say Sankt Gallen are well know for inconsistent and dodgy beers with off flavours – but they also make Yokohama XPA which I really like. The reason I bought so many Sankt Gallen at Shinanoya is to get a better picture of the brewery and see, over time, whether they really are inconsistent.

Just poured some of the America v Britain Superpower IPA which I force carbed on Sunday… and it has “that IPA taste”! (I don’t need to link to it again, right? You know what I mean surely by now.)

There were only three hops in that: Chinook, Cascade, and Fuggles. Just before drinking it I downed two of my Cascade only Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone – one with and one without dry hopping – and never noticed “that IPA taste”… I made a bitter with only Fuggles and never noticed “that IPA taste”… could it be the Chinook?

Or… Superpower was the first beer I made at the right temperature, so should I discard all the others tastings as invalid? I do have a feeling it is Cascade related. Maybe because Cascade in a combination with certain bittering hops.

Funnily, before force carbing and chilling Superpower, I never got the same taste. Is it a chilling thing? A carb thing?

Well maybe by the end of this keg I’ll have come to like the damn taste and it will be a mute point!!!

Are you sure you're using that much, sir?

Are you sure you're using that much, sir?

I don’t check my postbox at home very often – it’s usually filled with junk, and save for one or two bills, all my important mails come to work. So I was a little late finding this “Hey, do you realise your water consumption has shot up? Is there something wrong?” mail from the water board.

Looks like moving to smaller batches for partial mash and all grain has actually increased my water consumption! When I was going 14L boils and topping up to 21L, I was adding ice and a lot of water so – but when I moved to 14L boils for 12L batches, I then had to run gallons of water through the sink or (when I borrowed it) the IC.

I wonder what my water bill was before march, when I wasn’t homebrewing at all?

Unrelated to water costs, I’m thinking that I’m going to switch back from all grain/partial mash to DME+steeping for a while, and from 12L batches to 21L batches. All grain and PM are all well and good, but it just pushes me over the limit for making beer comfortably in the evenings. I need a few “easy” brews which don’t take 4-5 hours and leave me going to bed at 2am.

Saturday I went out and bought coconut to add to my Wheat Porter. Unsweetened from Tokyu Hands, this is what 5 x 45g packs looks like toasted on Sunday:

Lightly toasted coconut

Lightly toasted coconut

And with the beer racked on top:

Coconut in the secondary

Coconut in the secondary

This was after about 5 minutes in the secondary and I can already see the coconut going mushy. Smells delicious. In the hope of being able to keg this without the coconut following though, I’ve put a little plastic mesh thing into the tap hole. Hope it works.

I also partially bottled and kegged America v Britain Superpower IPA. The mix of British and American hops plays well together, but it’s still a bit sweeter than I’d like and I’d prefer the alcohol kick to be smoother. This is quite an unusual IPA with three different crystals, flaked rye, and wheat in addition to munich, 2-row, and extra light DME – and it will be very interesting to see how this conditions over the next few weeks. It attenuated better than the other IPAs I’ve made, going down from 1.072 to 1.016.

I was very tempted to keg Don’t Mention The War Pilsner also – it tastes amazing at the moment. I mean, really amazing – I’m not a huge pislner fan, but I could down this in one. I used all my willpower to resist though – it has only been fermenting for 2 weeks and is still at around 1.018 (if I remember correctly). It’s currently still quite cloudy, so hopefully a week or two more will clear it.

Finally, I decided to taste some of the fermented beer from the harvested yeast samples. I did the harvest in May. After fermenting out, I put it into the fridge for the yeast to settle, then when making the Wheat Porter I discarded the beer from the first fermentation and added new wort. With the second fermentation finished, it was time to taste. While the samples I took from the Baird tasted good and I could probably use them for starters – the sample from the German tasted very fruity and sour. Either this is because I forgot to sanitise the rim of the German bottle or because that yeast is old and funky or… who knows, but I just threw it away! Not sure whether I’ll use the Baird samples or not. What I wish I had done is cultivate from some Leffe, because I’d like to make a Belgian now.

More things thrown away to make space for beer yesterday. The casualty list continues!

Clothes or beer. The beer won.

Clothes or beer. The beer won.

Goodies from across the sea

Goodies from across the sea

The March H315 pump has arrived – along with an auto-syphon and enough quick connects and taps and o-rings to be able to use all my kegs.

Was at Popeye again on Friday. Was extremely busy – difficult to get service at times, but despite that, lots of alcohol was consumed.

  • Swan Lake Amber – good
  • Hidatakayama Weizen – normal weizen
  • Swan Lake Golden Ale – I thought a little tasteless but others liked it
  • Preston Pale Ale – Apparently Preston have a bit of a reputation, but I thought this was OK – better than the Swan Lake Golden
  • Baird IPA – Can’t go wrong with a Baird IPA
  • Preston Ale  Babakan IIPA “Cat Fish Head” – Nice bitter and fruity malty. V good but a little treacle like after a while.
  • Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye – Has the taste
  • Minamisinsyu Beer Winter Ale – Dark, little bit like a Christmas pie. Stewed caramel with a little cinamin or spice? Not bad.
  • Hakusekikan Brown Ale – The one I liked at Ushi. Amazing.
  • Baird Rainy Season – A little dark, a little hoppy, but not much. So-so.
  • Hakusekikan crystal ale 2001 – Nicely aged. Hides sweetness well.  Nice as it gets warmer
  • Rogue Imperial Stout – Hoppy bitter. Awesome. Got a sample of this at The Aldgate a few weeks back and it seemed too intense, so never ended up ordering it (they mentioned that it was near the end of the barrel). Was more refined in Popeye.
  • Fujizakura Kougen Weizen – Normal weizen but ok.
  • Nogne Imperial Stout – Smoky, smooth, beautiful; strange I like this because I have tried the Nogne IPA twice and not liked it.

And then my record gets a bit vague with reference to Rogue Brewer. No idea what that means. Obviously it was time to go home…

I do remember sampling the Speakeasy Prohibition Ale again and starting a conversation with one of the homebrewers about what I didn’t like about about. For some reason we became distracted and never finished the chat, so I’m still none the wiser.

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