Brian Strumke, the brewer of Stillwater Artisanal, came to Osaka's dig beer baR (yes, it is written that way) last week for the Japan launch of his beers
One of a fairly limited class of gypsy brewers, itinerant beer-makers who use other breweries facilities and equipment to create their beer, Brian has worked at many places throughout Europe and the United States. Stillwater has been selected as one of RateBeer's Top 100 brewers in the world the past four years in a row.
Brian is in Japan for a number of events, including Tokyo Beer Week, a Meet the Brewer event at Tokyo's Watering Hole, and a simple beer party at Osaka's Asahiya Liquor Shop.
Brian gave a brief talk, in which he explained how he works and why he makes the Belgian-inspired beers that form the the greater part of Stillwater's list.
Brian with Nishio-san of dig beer baR
Brian w/ Albert Kuwano (of AQ Bevolution) translating
I had a chance to speak with him and asked him how he decides where to make his beer.
His answer was simple and judicious: he goes to breweries he admires and with whom he wants to work.
Stillwater's distributor, AQ Bevolution, obtained a good selection of beer for the event, inlcuding Classique, Stateside Saison, Why Can't IBU, Cellar Door, Folklore, As Follows, and Existent.
Here are a few of the beers we sampled and how they shaped up:
Mild peach and tangy apples, some funk. Hazy light straw color. Light
tangy fruit mix / mid has little spikes of roughness and some light
hopping emerges / fades slowly into nips of bittering. Smooth. Very mild
Fruity aroma, estery, peaches -- similar to Stateside Saison, but
bigger. Pale champagne color. Sharp fruit, alc. spiked peaches / yeast
and more fruit / some alc. warmth / dry finish. Medium body, warm on the
tongue. A kind of blondish fruity tripel.
Why Can't IBU?
floral nose, light peaches and a touch of funk. Cloudy apple juice
color. Light tang and good bittering, punchy peach. Thin-medium body,
with a yeasty pull. Saison-y... but the hops really come
Dirty dark fruit nose, with esters and some funk. Dark brown with ruby
highlights. Nice melange of dark fruits and sweetness / a bit of rude
fermented dates / trickles of chocolate with some sourness. Medium body.The flavors are mildly defined and sneak through
one by one.
fresh-squeezed darks fruit aroma, prune juice, some yeast. Medium dark
brown, flat. Light melange of raisins, prunes, and dates. Light
chocolate roast emerges in mid palate. Decided alcohol warmth. Medium
body and just a little spritzy. Fun on the tongue. A nice take on the
Belgian stout style.
While in Japan, Brian had a chance to make a collaboration brew with
Kiuchi Brewery (Hitachino Nest), a blended sake and saison. This should hit the shelves and taps sometime in the next few months. Look for it soon.