The day was sunny and rather windy, sponsors' flags whipping amid swirling smoke from the grilled meat stalls. It was family-friendly event, with dogs and children wandering freely, and never got too crowded. A stage at one end offered periodic entertainment: a rousing Janis Joplin-like folk singer, gamelan music and dancers, and, most popular of all, a lively belly dancing troupe.
Overall, the venue was bigger -- but with a somewhat smaller variety of beers at higher prices than last year. Eight breweries, all from western Japan, manned their own taps, including Ise Kadoya (Mie), Minoh (Osaka), Nagisa (Wakayama), Beer Hearn (Shimane), Johana (Toyama), Brewmaster (Fukuoka), Kyoto Machiya, and Daisen G Beer (Tottori). There was also a range beers available from Rogue, Anchor, Brooklyn, many lagers from the Philippines, Korea, Singapore, and numerous styles from both Germany and Belgium.
Among the Japanese microbrews, Minoh's WIPA (8.5%) was unfortunately still not up to par; the most current version is an unattenuated, muddy mess. Even worse, the owner refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong with it. Ise Kadoya's Imperial Red was dark, deep, and bitter, but somewhat lighter than earlier versions; their Autumn Amber Ale, however, was tasty and well-hopped. Beer Hearn offered their Orochi Rice Barleywine (8.5%), lightened with additions of rice and given a fruity character by koji yeast; it was much milder than most barleywines, more like a weizenbock or a even a wheat wine. Johana's IPA and stout were both insipid extract malt lightweights.
The organizers chose an unusually random selection of Belgian beers. Lefty sampled some, and I joined him for a few. Tongerlo Prior Tripel (9%) had a fruity aroma but an overly honeyish mid palate and final. Oud Beersel Bersalis Kadet was bland and mild. Charles Quint Blonde Dorée/Keizer Karel Goudblond was pleasant enough, but without much flavor to mask its 8.5% alc. Even the regular De Koninck (bottle) seemed dull. However, we finished the afternoon with a strong, heavy Malheur 12, which was, thankfully, the best beer at the event.
The beer festival season is now winding down. Those in the Kanto region should attend the upcoming Nippon Craft Beer Festival and prove me wrong.