Well, we (almost) found out at the second iteration of the World Craft Beer Tasting, which took place on a hot, sunny weekend (September 21 and 22). Perhaps the heat kept people home or maybe the three-day weekend allowed Osakans to escape the city, but it really was rather lightly attended. Anyway, the upside was that there were never any crowds at the taps, and it was a cinch to sample a wide range of beers.
Last year's event was much smaller in scale and was held in a little neighborhood park near Umeda. This year, the organizers, Craft Beer Base, moved it to the Minato Riverplace next to the Namba Hatch building and doubled or even tripled the number of offerings.
A whopping 19 U.S. breweries were represented, along with nine from Japan, five from Belgium, four from Germany, and two from the UK. But only about half (or less) of the total beer list was on tap. Due to the low turnout, most kegs were not emptied until quite late in the day, and it was not possible to sample some of the more intriguing brews on the list.
A certain amount of disorganization was evident for much of the day. Many of the event volunteers did not know much about the beer. One poor fellow accidently knocked the tap off a keg, and he froze while maybe half the beer spouted up to the top of the tent. Event souvenir glasses were available somewhere but I got three different answers about where they could be purchased -- and each turned out wrong. Finally, tickets had been available in advance only (and, strangely, in books of ¥400 and ¥100 tickets when nearly all beers cost ¥500) -- but every vendor was accepting cash. Growing pains, perhaps, and these were really minor inconveniences.
Anyway, the beers that were on provided a very considerable selection. Some highlights were the following:
Stone Levitation Ale
Subtle nose of rich buttery maltiness. Dark brown with good lace. Hoppy initial -- a sort of overripe citrus fruit / malt takes over, and a very slight metallic note appears. Light body. Sort of a light hop tea thing, very tasty and pleasant.
High Water Hop Riot IPA
Huge, stinky, near manure aroma, with caramel and peach. Big caramel in initial / the hops go into warp speed in mid / big grapefruity tones in finish. Truly West Coast stuff.
A spectacular nose: deep citrus & dark pine, some fresh meat and umami notes, too. Near perfect blanace in initial / mid palate takes it up a notch, with a lovely mix of peach, orange, and tropical fruit / finish fills the mouth with hop bitterness. Mmmm!
Saison Dupont Cuvée Dry Hopping
Big fruity, tangerine aroma. Very pretty deep yellow color with a full white head. Strong lemony flavors, with back-end hop touches and a sourish edge. Quite dry. Not sure what the dry hopping added. Very good, though the regular Saison Dupont is better,
Baird Under the Blue Sky
This was a collaboration beer (w/ Tani Ai of Craft Beer Base) made by Baird Brewing for the WCBT event. Very light aroma with touches of grapefruit and peaches. Somewhat hop- happy initial, well-balanced in mid palate, and light hop tinges in final. Creamy and quite fruity. Light, tasty, and very drinkable