Scottish Brewdog and Beerbear in Japan

Scottish Brewdog and Beerbear in Japan

It’s no secret that my first encounter with Brewdog wasn’t a pleasant one – as I wrote here, I disliked Storm so much that it became one of the few beers I’ve thrown down the sink. But then I’m not fan of whisky cask aged beers – I didn’t like the Harviestoun Ola Dubh either.

Since then I’ve been following the company – and researching about British beers more, driven on by the fact that I’ll be visiting Scotland again later in the year and want to visit some breweries and make sure I can get decent beer there, and also after discovering that Greene King’s 3.6% IPA is “Britain’s favourite cask ale.” Coca-cola has more hops than Greene King.

The more research I do into British beers, the more I start to admire Brewdog. I’ve been shocked to see most of the UK craft IPAs I stumble across are under the 4% mark, which is really just a pale ale. I know there’s better out there – this article mentions a few – but I’ve yet to find one in Scotland other than Brewdog (I’m still looking). Brewdog are in some way making craft beers interesting to the masses again – which is a good thing.

A few weeks back I tried the Punk IPA and Rip Tide. Punk IPA is a respectable 6%, and while it’s not a hop monster like Stone IPA, it had nice citrus tones and it compares well against Japanese IPAs. I could down a few in the summer heat. I’d love to get my hands on some Hardcore IPA at 150+ IBUS and Chaos Theory IPA, though that will need to wait until I get to the UK because they are not coming to Japan.

What is coming to Japan is the controversial Tokyo*. It will be arriving in Japan in October, finally. Tokyo* is 18.2% and brewed with Jasmine and Cranberries. Sounds like a beer to be savoured slowly.

If you live in the UK, be sure to check this offer from Brewdog.

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Just read the most pointless article about Beer in Japan ever in Beers of the World, issue 22. Three – yes, just three – craft breweries are mentioned: Baird, Minoh, and Hakusekikan. Minoh and Hakusekikan get a sentence each, and Baird – which, let’s face it, is about as Japanese as Turning Japanese by The Vapours – gets a couple of paragraphs. The only bar mentioned is Popeye.

Jesus – there’s not even a single mention of:

  • Kiuchi – the first and still the largest craft brewery to export from Japan, and the only one to have beer sold in the UK (restaurants in London)
  • Yoho – owner trained with Stone, maker of Yona Yona, Tokyo Black, and Aooni which are some of the few craft beers available in convenience stores
  • Ginga-kogen – again, high availability
  • Shiga-kogen – makes the best IPA in Japan
  • Ezo – made outside Japan by Rogue but for the Japanese market

It also doesn’t mention the international craft beer scene in Japan.

Way to go – write an article on Japanese beers, recommend the commercial available crap, interview the most non-Japanese brewer in Japan just because he’s the only one you can find who speaks English (there are more, but that would take research), and mention only one bar.

If anyone knows Matthew Knott personally, give him a slap from me will you?

A few hours later and the pilsner is still trickling to the primary. I need to find space in the fridge for when it’s done so time to work through the random single bottles I have in the fridge…

Beer on the rocks?

Beer on the rocks?

Kohan No Mori in Tazawako’s On The Rock’s Beer – very dark brown colour but lovely tasty red/brown beer. With ice – as they recommend it to be consumed – it’s a bit less rich.

Looks like they have their own restaurant too. Very nice beer and love the “I printed them on my PC” labels.

Kinshachi IPA

Kinshachi IPA

from Nagoya – I’ve had this at beer festivals and it was nonplussing, but in bottles it’s not bad. Not hugely hoppy, but I’d be very happy to drink it. Great bitterness.

Shiga Kogen Wheat Wine

Shiga Kogen Wheat Wine

Shiga Kogen Wheat Wine – a gift from Jonno. Very malty and despite being 9.5% and a wheat version of a barley wine, it’s not too sweet. Nice.

Margriet

Margriet

Margriet – with orange peel, corriander, and rose petals. Fruity and Belgian and, well, something strange about it really – but I can’t put my finger on it.

The End

The End

Wort finally drained, all that’s left is a mix of leaf and pellet Saaz – and my failed protection. It’s time to hit the sack. Hic!

I have new found sympathy for British Rail.

I was having a perfect brew day and suddenly when I go to pump the wort through the plate chiller I get no flow for about 30 seconds then this happens:

Hops in the line

Hops in the line

My hop protection must have fallen out.

Hop protection

Hop protection

No change of cooling in the sink with 23L or so of wort. I should probably leave it to cool at room temp, but instead I’m trickling it down to the primary and once it’s all moved, I’ll stick it in the fridge to cool.

Helios Goya Dry from Okinawa

Helios Goya Dry from Okinawa

A couple of beers to relax…

K's Brewing Company - The Brewmaster Fukuoka Blonde Dry

K's Brewing Company - The Brewmaster Fukuoka Blonde Dry

…and then I better clean up.

Nice beers these actually: Helios is dry, not so bitter, and has good flavour (not what I expected from a beer made with goya, a bitter Japanese vegetable); K’s Blonde Dry is lovely and dry with almost a honey aftertaste.

Not just nice – damn good beers actually. Wish I had more bottles of them both. Looks like Helios have a pub in Okinawa also – I’ve been wanting to go to Okinawa for a while, now I have a beer reason to go there it might actually happen!

Beer is a repeast of #18: Don’t Mention The War Pilsner. Full details some other time – need to clean up now.

Just had a Cabos & Honey also – bitter and very sweet; OK but don’t think I couldn’t drink a lot. The lady likes it though.

Filling the keg with Evil

Filling the keg with Evil

I finally kegged Axis of Evil last night and started the force carbonation. It’s been chilling and settling overnight, and hopefully, if I’ve got the carbonation right, I’ll be able to try some tonight.

I finished off the small PET bottle that I force carbed a few days ago – I can’t quite put my finger on whether the smooth taste is 100% down to the hops or whether it’s from the Carahell or even from mashing (remember I was using new equipment and new techniques). I need to views of an expert I think.

I’m planning to make another Pilsner this weekend if I can get away with emptying the fridge again to put in the fermenter without the girlfriend killing me. It’s quite likely that this will be the second last beer I make in Japan as I wind down my homebrew and beer stock in case I go to Singapore later in the year.

You’ll notice that my kitchen still has bits lying around from when I made Evil a few weeks ago (see the plate chiller in the basin on the floor?). Also on the counter are various bottles of beer – I had to clear out the kegerator to take out Mass Destruction and put in Evil (the kegerator still looks similar to this as I’ve been buying beer at similar rates to I’ve been consuming it – I just keep seeing new bottles out there, as evidenced by the brown bag which contains three bottles bought last night!)

Homebrew Japan on the iPhone

Homebrew Japan on the iPhone

I’ve installed the awesome WPtouch plug-in which gives HBJ an iPhone/mobile friendly interface – no more waiting for pages to load, scrolling around, etc.

It looks pretty good but it may have some issues. Any problems – let me know. Of course unless you’re using a mobile device you wont see any difference…

Axis of Evil IPA is ready for the keg – but I only have room for one keg in the kegerator and it still has Mass Destruction in it. I’ve been frantically drinking Mass Destruction this week and I can’t seem to get to the end of it. I seem to have a bottomless keg.

One thing’s for sure though – I’ve tasted Axis of Evil IPA (force carbed in a PET bottle) and I definitely prefer Hops of Mass Destruction IPA. The Chinook, Amarillo, and Simcoe combination has resulting in a smooth orange cirtus flavour than the sharper Magnum and Centennial pairing. Maybe the extra couple of days dryhopping while I wait for Mass Destruction to finish will change things?

Over at Beer in Japan I’ve written a post about Baeren Brewery – a brewery created in Japan less than 10 years ago from equipment imported from Germany, some of it over 100 years old: Baeren Brewery and Beer Pub, Morioka.

I really want to make a Pilsner again – but with my current lack of fridge space (exemplified by having nowhere to put Axis of Evil IPA), I can’t see how that’s going to be possible.