Tokyo Ale at Fuji Rock

Tokyo Ale at Fuji Rock

Back from Fuji Rock and great to have working internet again. Actually, not just internet – a working phone, full stop. Softbank just couldn’t handle the capacity, and on the rare times I did get connected to the network, as soon as I tried to do something like actually use the phone, I’d immediately get disconnected again. Not only couldn’t I get mail or access the internet, but I couldn’t call people to meet them either. I don’t know what Apple were thinking when they partnered with Softbank.

Saturday and Sunday proved a little better in the beer department as I ventured towards the smaller “hippy” stages. I found Yona Yona, Asa Monogatari Hemp Seed Beer (surprisingly it wasn’t crap), and the elusive Tokyo Ale. Also available was Shinshi Sun-Sun Organic Beer and Tokyo Black.

Tokyo Ale has to be my choice for the best beer at Fuji Rock – a nice malty taste with good bittering, and dry rather than sweet. An Amber ale they called it, though I’d say it’s more of a red ale. Unfortunately being near the hippy area – and me being no hippy – I had to go out of my way to get it, but I reckon I downed about 10 glasses over the two days. I would buy this beer if they sold it in Lawson or 7/11 over Asahi and Kirin anyday, or maybe outside if I wanted something different from an IPA. I can still remember the lovely malty taste and bittering – mmmmm.

I talked to Kent, one of the guys behind Tokyo Ale. They’ve recently opened up a new shop selling their beer: “It’s take-away rather than a bar, but you can open up and drink there,” he told me, “We close a lot though so if you’re coming, mail me first – I’d hate for you to come and we’re closed.”  I’m sure he threw the word dude in there a couple of times also. Apart from Fuji Rock, I think their shop is the only place you can buy Tokyo Ale, though they may also have it at Super Deluxe (somewhere I’ve walked past many times but never gone int0).

Turns out the beer is currently made by Sankt Gallen, which has a bit of a reputation amongst homebrewers for the brewery being “a big shed with cobwebs everywhere” (direct quote from a friend of mine; I’ve not been there) and for being inconsistent and having dodgy beers. I like Sankt Gallen’s Yokohama XPA, though, even if others don’t.

When I mentioned the reputation to Kent, he said that they used a different brewery before and they are looking at a brewery in Saitama for making the next batch of beer (didn’t tell me which brewery though). He also said they’d had to change the recipe for Sankt Gallen – presumably to match with the ingredients on offer. They did well though – it was a nice beer.

Outside the hippy areas, I tried some John Smiths, and again tried the Nigata beer that I’d previously tried and thrown away – it wasn’t bad second time around, so either the keg was different or, as I suspect, pumping beer through the lines had cleaned them up a bit. Mostly I stuck with Echigo Pilsner though, because that was the most common craft beer available and I knew a place which always served it without off flavours – quite a few places the beer just seemed weird, like the beer servers were not well maintained.

Definitely not a festival to go to just to try craft beers, but it was good to see that there was at least some alternatives to Heineken on offer. I came back with a couple of cans of Nigata and Echigo beer from the convenience store which I’ll look forward to sitting down and drinking one night.