Epic Saturday and Awesome (Really) Monday


Saturday was a beautiful day here in the Kansai. It was  hot one to be sure with a breeze only showing up fashionably late in the afternoon. In the kick-ass event space of Grow Space Salt Valley Ashiharabashi (in Japanese) Beer Zen held an epic keg party just about going through eight kegs of premium craft beer from the U.S. west coast.  It was great fun working the kegs and talking to so many people who make the craft beer scene in Kansai such a warm and inviting crowd.

We then adjourned to another craft beer bar, TNT (just Facebook site for now), where the size is more intimate  and the brew selection is even better.  Discussing life with friends there I made it home before long and spent Sunday recovering.

Monday, was supposed to be a day of car pooling and cleaning.  Nope. I met a friend out at Suma beach in western KOBE and we relaxed under his pavilion tent drinking a bit and swimming. The nearby Copenhagen Hot Dog shop was lunch; I always step in where the dogs are always awesome and the owner is friendly.

Now onto a week of festivals and driving. Looking forward to next Monday though.  May the force be with us.

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Summer Abroad, or How to Say You’re Going to Try a Bunch of Craft Beer but Only Get to One Brewery


Months ago I was stoked to go to my hometown.  I was going to see old friends and family.  I was going to see the sights and enjoy myself immensely.  I did.  I also mentioned a great desire to visit several craft breweries in the vicinity of my parents’s house.

I got to one.  I was all excited to get to Cigar City Brewery, 3 Daughters Brewing and Green Bench Brewing.  My time in Florida was passing and I found little time to get to any of them. I was worried but finally got to 3 Daughters.  It was a great place, and I soon forgot my worry.  It was just that great.  I had a sampler and wandered around a bit.  The taproom is a comfortable wood bar with another table to the side.  

 

Bar with friendly staff

Bar with friendly staff .

 
There are board games and cards for people to freely play, and walking down to the restrooms, I found a room with table tennis across from the yeast lab.  They are not wasting space.

The open area next to the brewery equipment and machinery is a large open seating area with more games and live music.  I had finished the sampler and was now on a pint of weizen that went perfect with the laid back atmosphere of the space.

 

Live blues, giant Jenga, and other diversions

Live blues, giant Jenga, and other diversions

  
 
The sampler:

 

a nice pumpkin ale and a good red ale

  

my new IPA favorite: the Bimini Twist; and awesome stout

 

So sad….but wait…there is possibly more


I was going to write about my weekend of awesome home brews shared between awesome friends under a glorious sun on a never ending beach.  But that didn’t happen.  It couldn’t happen.  Nature stepped in and I found myself laid low by a nasty stomach bug.  Woe was me! 

From reports, the homebrewers meeting was a success and, though I missed everyone, I look forward to the next possible meeting in the fall.  In the meantime, what I have in store for the next few weeks should help my spirits. 

Soon, depending on the weather, I am going into vacation mode and packing the family off to Florida.  While there I’ll be enjoying the usual sun and sea, but I am also looking forward to stocking up a bit on hard to find things here and maybe a treat or two there for new equipment:  Starsan, a carboy carrier, and maybe a growler for fun.

The prices are also something to look forward to.  Here in Japan, craft beer prices can be a few hundred yen per bottle. Depending on the exchange rate, that comes out to $5 or more at times for a good craft brew.  Now, in the U.S., that same $5 might get me a few more bottles.  I’m feeling like a kid in a candy store even though I don’t drink much.  I have some particular breweries in mind.  Cigar City Brewing is top on the list but there are a few newer (since last I traveled the area) spots I’m hoping to make.  So, if anyone reading this has been to the Tampa Bay Area, what breweries and particular beers do you recommend?  What are your top Florida craft brews?  I’d love to hear from you.

Addendum to: Beer Zen Second Anniversary Issue Launch Party: Prequal?


Found the tap list for the party tonight:

Caldera Repeater 2 Doouble IPA
-Prairie Somewhere (almost gone)
-Lucky Bucket IPA
On Stand By
-American Powerplay Double IPA
-Schooner Exact Bitter Beer Face
Double IPA

If anyone reads this in the next few hours and is in Osaka, Get down to Craft Cafe Imazato 今里クラフトカフェ right away!

Beer Zen Second Anniversary Issue Launch Party: Prequal?


I’m sitting in the Cricketers , the best English pubs in Takarazuka, saying goodbye to a friend, the young English bartender.  Hopefully he’ll be back in a few months.  While I’m here, there is a nice new beer from Kyoto Brewing Company: the Kinpatsu no Futago, or, Blond Twins.  It’s an interesting blond ale with a sweet malt finish leap-frogged by slightly citrusy hops.

But I’m not here just to see my friend and drink a beer from Kyoto’s up-and-coming craft brewery.  I’m writing about tomorrow’s launch party for Beer Zen‘s Summer issue.  I should be writing about that.  The party looks like it will be great fun.  I’ve been to many of the previous parties especially since I started writing beer related recipes for a year or so.  It will also be the second anniversary of the magazine’s publication. The recipe I have in this issue is a beer vinegrette dressing.  Please, check it out.  Besides there being some IPAs on tap, I don’t know specifics on what will be available. I just know I’m really looking forward to it.  That being said, I will follow this up Sunday.

A Day at the Beach


It’s sad but a good friend is leaving. He has been in Japan for nearly a decade and he has, along with his family, decided it is time to move on, take a new path in life. He was the friend who got me interested in home brewing. We made a few good brews together, and enjoyed drinking quite a few together.

Last Sunday the local home brewers got together at a popular beach in Kobe with a 20 liter keg of American Pale ale we had made a month before. We set up in the shade of trees in a park nearby. Besides the keg, there were a few other home brews and craft brews on hand.

The APA was a malty brew with just the right amount of hops. Even in the summer heat it was good.  It wasn’t crisp and refreshing but it was something I would, could, come back to anytime of the year.  The beer was only in the keg for a week so it is still quite green. I hope I can get another taste soon for comparison.

There was a hefeweizen on hand, as well, which was nice for the season but had a bit of a banana flavor that seemed wrong; it seemed just a little too much.

In the end it it was a good day even if we had to say goodbye. The beach was a nice place to do it, though.

Hopefully, in a year or so, I’ll be heading over to England with fellow brewers and/or family to see this good friend.  There will definitely be a local beer tour somewhere in there.

Long Time No See 久しぶり!


It’s been a long while and plenty of that time has been spent with beer of many different kinds.  With my quest for better health in full swing, though, I have not had as much to drink as I’d like. I don’t mean that I want to get shit-faced all the time or simply more; I just want to try more of the great variety of craft beer and home brew available in Kansai now.

Since late December I’ve been using different means to slim down and get into shape. I got a fitbit so every step I take I monitor and analyze. I watch what I eat and drink along with exercising every day. The result is a nearly eight kilogram loss and actual visible muscle growth. My waist has shrunk as well.

As I was watching my intake of calories I found the quantity of beer I drank fell off dramatically –ability as well.  Quantity was never a priority, but quality over quantity really has become the most important thing in the six plus months since starting this diet/lifestyle change. I may not drink every day but I do savor each craft or home brew I drink.

I haven’t been singularly devoted to changing my diet and exercise habits though. Anyone who has seen my Untappd (kansaiclikker) account knows that there have been more than a few times when I have logged a bunch of brews within one night.  A recent trip to a friend’s place can attest to this.  I tried at least eight beers (all small amounts) from craft and Belgian brewers.  My favorite was definitely the  Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers.  On top of that I tried a lemon ale and a ginger beer from an up and coming home brewer.  There was also a great off flavor tasting to know what problems can arise and how to remedy them in the home brewing process.

Since my last post there have been several festivals where I got to try everything from a little 3.5% ale to a whopping 15.5%.  I’ve also had to say goodbye to some good friends who have gone onto different paths in life.  It’s sad but we got to share some beautiful beer together.  In the coming months I will be seeking out more brews and bidding farewell to more friends.

So for now good brews to you and keep it classy.  Quality trumps quantity, usually!  And see you hopefully on Sunday when I throw that rule (is it a rule or just a rough guideline?) out.

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