Qbrick, one of Osaka’s best beer bars, held an Octoberfest event over three days (October 9 ~ October 11) last weekend. On tap were five types of German beer, along with nine fair to good Japanese microbrews.
The prices were a bit higher than usual. The German beers were available in two sizes, 500-millimeter jokki / ジョッキ (¥1,000-1,100) and one-liter Maßkrug / 大ジョッキmugs (¥1,800-2,000). The Japanese micros were also served in the above amounts as well as smaller glasses (¥600-700).
The bar had opened at 1pm on Saturday, and the crowd seemed well lubricated by the time we arrived around 3pm. One cheerful patron was working on this third Maßkrug (he later disappeared, in a conscious state I hope!). Each time someone ordered and received fresh beer, the entire crowd launched into a boisterous version of “Ein Prosit” song and clanked the thick mugs loudly:
Ein prosit, ein prosit die gemüdlichkeit.
Ein prosit, ein prosit die gemütlichkeit ... EINZ, ZWEI, DREI - SUFFA!
(A toast, a toast, that good/cheerful feeling. / A toast, a toast, that good/cheerful feeling … ONE, TWO, THREE - DRINK!)
The owner of Qbrick, Yamamoto-san, always pays careful attention to his food menu. For this event, he worked up an Octoberfest Plate, which included two types of sausages, roast chicken, ham, a large pretzel, German potatoes, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut. Filling indeed, if a touch pricey at ¥2,200.
Later in the evening, after the crowd thinned a bit, Yamamoto-san set up a few tables outside under the minimal awning. He seemed happy to be done for the evening and able to enjoy a few beers while chatting with us, away from the noise and heat of the kitchen. It was much cooler than indoors, and we didn’t mind sitting in the occasional light drizzle. Here are the beers we sampled.
- Irlbacher Festbier: Pilsener-like, with good malt flavor, but not really holding a unique identity.
- Paulaner Bräuhaus Oktoberfestbier: The overriding characteristic of this beer was wet cardboard, in the aroma and more so in the flavor.
- Paulaner Original Münchner Hell: A clean, pretty beer. Malty and light, it is Paulaner’s #1 export beer in 30 countries
- Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier: Cloudy dark yellow, yeasty, fruity, and spicy. An exceptional wheat beer from one of the oldest breweries in the world. The mild bitterness moves to along to a lasting sweet yeasty finish. Great!
- Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel: A beautiful deep amber. Wheat malt in the nose, not a lot of bitterness, full of roasted malt flavors, and well balanced.
- Baeren Rye Beer (Iwate-ken): A beautiful cloudy orange color, with astounding carbonation, the beer gave off the definite aroma and flavor of Belgian yeast (we could not confirm if it was in fact Belgian). Pleasant and grassy.
- Kobushi Hana Märzen (Saitama-ken): A mild, light-bodied beer with a great mouth feel, but one that didn’t stand out among the competition that evening.
- Inawashiro Rauch (Fukushima-ken): A lightly smoky flavor (without much smoke in the aroma). Pleasant bitterness, which faded in the final. Mild and without the real richness of a good smoked beer.
- Hidatakayama Red Bock (Gifu-ken): A deep, fruity aroma. A slight sourness, with touches of raisins and fruit. Roast malt flavors. A pleasant beer with a bit of a kick.
- Akashi Kuro Beer Yukyu no Toki (Hyogo-ken): Dryish with some hints of coffee and chocolate. Well balanced.
- Ushiku Braumeister Original (Ibaraki-ken): In the Dortmunder export style, with mild hoppiness. Not really very much else to say about it.
- Fujizakura Mori no Weizen Ocktoberfest (Yamanashi-ken): One of the better wheat beers made in Japan. Somewhat like Hoegaarden. Aromas of ripe banana and overripe vegetation. Sourness took over at the finish.
(Note: There were also two beers from Onuma Beer (Hokkaido), representing the very lightest of German styles -- a Kölsch and an Alt --, but we skipped them.
The standout beers were Fujizakura Mori no Weizen Ocktoberfest, Hidatakayama Red Bock, and (for me, at least) Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier.
Now for a break….