I have to admit I was never a huge Pilsner fan, but I do love Pislner Urquell. Here’s one – two actually, because there’s a little one for the lady at the back – from Cataratas a few days ago:

Pilsner Urquell at Cataratas

Pilsner Urquell at Cataratas

Gorgeous on draft it was.

I think one reason I wasn’t a big fan of Pils before is that Japanese Pils put me off the genre – they always come out way too sweet. I have to be honest though, I like my Pilsner really bitter and even non-Japanese pils like Jever don’t cut it for me.

So you get the idea – I’m picky about my Pils. Yet after making my own and loving it – though it had a bit too much dry hopping to really be a Pils – I keep trying new Pils whenever I see them, Japanese or non-Japanese.

Well finally I’ve found a Japanese Pilsner that I like – nay, love. It came as part of last months delivery from the Japanese beer fan club Beer Festa:

Umenishiki Pilsner, Aromatic Ale, and Blanche

Umenishiki Pilsner, Aromatic Ale, and Blanche

What a lovely Pilsner that was – dry and gorgeously bitter. The Blanche was good too – Japanese breweries tend to make weizen; this was more of a White Ale like Hitachino’s Nest, though with more of an orange tang. The Aromatic Ale… I’m still not sure about that. It seemed to be like a malty red ale but had some kind of tang to it – it’s the kind of beer you drink thinking “Do I like this or not?” and never quite answer the question before the end.

Unfortunately I only had two of each bottle – and now there’s only one of each. Sitting here typing this now I want to open the fridge and savour all of them – but it’s only noon!

Just checking the Umenishiki website now for the first time, I see that in the Japan Asian Beer Cup this year, the Pilsner won Bronze in the Pilsner category and the Blanche won Gold in the Bergian (sic) category. They also seem to export to Singapore, New York, Hong Kong – though whether that’s just the sake, I don’t know.

Unknown to me until now, Umenishiki now ranks as one of the Japanese brewers I’ll be watching out for – adding to the small list of breweries that are really outstanding here: Hakusekikan (nice dark strong beers), Shiga Kogen (House IPA), Hitachino (White Ale), Yokohama Brewery (Green Fresh IPA), Harvestmoon (Barley wine).

Sadly I can’t include either Bekken or Awa Uzushio in that list since they’ve both stopped making beer now. Bekken made a Pilsner that also fell into the curious category – being both sweet and dry at the same time. Awa Uzushio made an outstanding Kolsch – a fantastic beer by Japanese standards; I have a few cans left and I’m really savouring them.

I shouldn’t post about beer this early in the day – it makes me want to drink. Good job I’m going to a BBQ this afternoon!

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