This year this beer booths were spread out along a stretch of the shopping arcade, instead of being mostly concentrated in the small park at the center. That park area was reserved for the four Kyoto-based breweries, food stalls, and a small music stage. And, instead of being shuttered up for the day, many arcade shops joined in the fun, selling a wide range of food.
The event map/guide listed 28 breweries, but I counted only 24. No matter. There were more than last year, and better ones, too. Two new breweries in Japan also showed up: Brimmer Brewing and Outsider Brewing. The guide also contained short informative bilingual description of the beers available.
In spite of the crowds, it was a very pleasant event. Only problem was a shortage of places to pee. There was one small toilet in the park, at times with fairly long lines. Eventually, some desperate folks discovered a restroom on the second floor of a supermarket in the arcade, and soon thereafter a steady stream of imbibers was winding up and down the stairs. First time I'd seen people carrying glasses of beer in a supermarket.....
Some standout brews of the day:
Outsider Brewing Innkeeper Bitter Lager
Strong grassy nose, with some hoppiness. Clear as a bell. Great initial bite of flavor, lingers a bit with a fairly distinctive Pils character. Nicely done by one of Japan’s newest brewing outfits.
Baird Suruga Bay Imperial IPA
Astounding citrusy, grapefruit aromas. A dusky orange beauty. Malty, thick, with a long piney aftertaste. Such a pleasure to drink.
Daisen G Beer White Nelson Sauvin
Stinky, barn floor aromas, wheaty notes as well. Packs a lemony and grapefruit punch, with a sharply bitter aftertaste. The wheat and Nelson Sauvin hops complement each other well.
Fujizakura Kougen Rauch Beer
Aroma is purely smoke, with a touch of sweet malt. Flavors are smoke and more smoke with some solid malt underneath. A real treat. It just won a gold medal in the smoke beer category at the World Beer Cup 2012.
Near pitch black with a strong chocolate roast malt aroma. Rather heavy flavors for a schwarz. (maybe more like a porter). A pretty well-made black beer.
Shiga Kogen Indian Summer Saison
Sharp, stinky barnyard nose with a load of great hopping. Sweet and sour with a big mid-palate explosion of yeast and hops at the back of the throat. Very light body for all this flavor. I’ve never had a bad beer from this brewery.
Many thanks to Chris H. and his helpful, yellow-shirted staff of volunteers. They made it all work.