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.

Beer Zen Second Anniversary Issue Launch Party: the Aftermath


I wanted a rest before writing this about last night’s launch party.  I had built up a huge lump of expectation and was not let down.  I stayed only briefly at Craft Cafe Imazato, enjoying every moment of my first time there.  The dynamic duo owners, Matt and Toshie did a fantastic job hosting; I’ve never seen people so busy and I hope they got some rest today.

The beer line up, as I wrote yesterday, was mainly tasty American IPAs, so a hoppy evening was had by many.  I pointed up with the Caldera Repeater 2 Doouble IPA at first.  It was true to a double IPA.  I love these brews but I personally cannot drink them all night, the hops just make me more tongue tied than the alcohol.  After that, I sampled a bottled stout but unfortunately forgot the name.  

It was a good night and I wish I had stayed longer.  Then again, I might not have made it to the last train so there is that.

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.

Comparative Beering


A SMaSH is a simple home brew:  Single Malt, Single Hop.  It’s a way to study the characteristics of one type of malt and one type of hop in a simple beer.  You can really concentrate on how malt and hop waltz across your tongue and linger, possibly, intimately in the back of the mouth.

I didn’t make a SMaSH.  I made a SMaTH.  It was a simple.  I just mis-measured.  I though I had enough Cascade hops; I wasn’t quite there.  I had to add a bit of Centennial just to get the IBUs to an acceptable level.  That is why it’s Two Hops.

I also didn’t use a neutral yeast.  I should have used a S-04 or something similar.  It wouldn’t affect the flavor much.  I used a Belgian yeast, a yeast that ended up dropping hints of banana into the brew.

I could have written about this little experiment a month or so ago but I wanted time to let it mature a bit.  I also wanted to be able to taste it at various stages of development.

The initial impression is of a very light beer with slightly higher than Budweiser or Miller level hops.  I figured out, and it was later commented on by friends, that the slight hoppiness is probably due to the base malt only light-to-none body.  An inefficient mash is most likely the culprit.  I didn’t sparge the brew-in-a-bag mash so next time I will start doing that and seeing what the outcome is.  I liked the hoppiness actually.  My wife did, something she usually has a problem with.

As the beer has aged, it has improved a bit, though the flavors and aromas have mellowed.

In a few months, once the humidity and intense temperatures of summer have retreated, I will return to a new brewing season with some fresh ideas and improved methods.  One is the importance of sparging for efficiency.  I’m looking forward to it and the beers I hope to brew.

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.

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