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Quick Asahi エクストラシャープ Review


3 out of 5 stars.  And I’m not really sure how bright those stars are.  I also give a regular Asahi Super Dry three out of five stars.

For those of you who do not read Japanese, that title says ‘Extra Sharp’.  Yes, extra sharp, like cheddar cheese yet it lacks the sharpness of cheddar cheese.  I usually avoid talking about macro-beers (no problem drinking them), but I’m really perplexed by this one and want to say something, hoping to spark some discussion.

I gave this brew the same stars as I would its sister simply because I can’t tell the difference.  The flavor is nearly the same.  The dry quality of the highly attenuated SuperDry seems to be the same with only a negligible increase in alcohol.  What is the extra sharpness supposed to be?   Even higher attenuation?  Hops?  I don’t sense them. Both seem to leave no aftertaste and only whisper their presence in your mouth passing from lips, gliding past the nodochinko (Japanese for uvula), and slipping like a ninja down your throat. Can anyone tell me their impressions and where I’m going wrong?

I must say that the Super Dry is not a terrible brew among the macro-brews of Japan.  In a way, Super Dry is a yard stick on judging craft beer.  If the more expensive craft beer doesn’t taste any better than a Super Dry, then why buy the more expensive one?  But this one just feels like a marketing job. Nice try Asahi, the price point seemed to be the only difference.  I paid ¥199 compared with nearly ¥250 on a standard Super Dry.

Come out with an IPA, and I might try it.  But don’t expect glowing words.

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.

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.

After all….


Along with reduced weigh and overall good health, my tolerance for alcohol has plummeted.  I don’t drink much more which has contributed to lower weigh and so forth.  Yet here I am.  I still love craft beer and home brewing. I indulge in each when I can though not as much as I once did.

Finally after a long dry spell I was able to enjoy one of the big craft beer festivals in Kansai.  Craft Beer Live in なんば is usually a great place to taste the variety of craft beer in the Kansai region of Japan.

 
This year was one of the best since I’ve been attending with one of the newest breweries, a soon-to-be rising star in the Japanese craft beer realm, Kyoto Brewing Company participating for the first time.

KBC just started brewing this year and is already producing stellar potables.  Though not 100% into the Himitsu beer, I loved the Snow Monkey and could have drunk it all day were it not for Minoh and Marca.

After all the craft beer up under the tents of the plaza below Namba Hatch it would be hard to say the day could be better, but down below the foot bridge spanning the Dontonbori River (sort of creek/moat) I set up with good friends and family, both home brewers and not, our own spot of shade and relaxed with each other’s company, beer, and food.  The combination of these events made for a great day, professional brews and many hobby beers as well.  I may never go professional in brewing beer but I hope some of my friends do.  They have so much to contribute to the world of craft beer.

Long Slow Summer


It’s been a slow few weeks here. I haven’t had much chance to get out to some of my favorite craft beer places in Osaka or Kobe. I haven’t even been able to get much at the local stores. The local Aeon is seems to be slowly getting rid of their craft beer and import section. A few places nearby surprise on occasion though with some Brew Dog and Speckled Hen. Even Japanese craft beers are hard to come by in my neck of the woods.

There was a bright spot though recently. I was in Perth, Australia on business and had a local Feral Brewing Company Hop Hop IPA. They describe it as an American IPA and I believe they are right. It wasn’t as hoppy as some of the big West-coast IPAs of the past few years and I kind of like that. Sometimes those IPAs can be a bit off balance but the Hop Hog seemed just right. It went down well with my plate of fish and chips all the same.

Before my brief trip ended I went looking for more to bring back. I couldn’t get the Hop Hog but I did find Feral’s Belgian White. I’m looking forward to drinking them with some fellow Craft beer lovers soon once everyone I know gets back from vacation. I may have said this before—if not, then I’m saying it here—drinking with friends is so much better than drinking alone. It makes the beer taste so much better.

Beer Garden Saturday Night/Sunday Morning


My last post saw me talking of recent health benefits and consequences. I talked a bit about quantity over quality. I violated that last night in a huge way. Was it merely a case of moderation in all things including moderation? Perhaps.

For many foreigners Asahi and Kirin are good, and I do prefer them over a lot of American lite beers. However none of it is craft. They are beers designed to go with food, Japanese food in particular. So I indulged in a lot of both.

The beer garden where the party we had was pretty typical for Japan. It was on the roof of a very tall building near JR Osaka. For a nice price of ¥3600 you get all-you-can-eat, and all-you-can-drink. The tables have small hibachis for personal bbqs and there is a nice selection of Chinese food. We got full and then moved on.

I got my craft beer fix with a Brooklyn Lager but that was it for the night. We wandered about watching some soccer here and there then I slept on my friend’s couch.

Drinking is a social thing so sometimes it’s just not that important what you drink as long as it’s with good friends, new and old. Of course if you can make it classy, definitely go classy.

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