Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Japanese Breweries at the 2016 World Beer Cup: Further Thoughts

The Japanese medal winners at this year's World Beer Cup comprise an interesting assortment of both brand new brews and what could be considered classic Japanese craft beers.

Nasu Kohgen Beer Co. won a gold medal for its Nine-Tailed Fox in the Aged Beer category. This is a hard-to-find barleywine which appears very rarely at beer festivals (and even less often in bars) in Japan. It has a very wide range of ratings on RateBeer, depending upon the vintage year. Want to try it? Well, 500ml. bottles of the 1998 vintage are available for a whopping ¥12,000 (roughly US$110) on the Nasu Kohgen website. I wonder if aged beer is really a fair category, since it's not really a beer style.

Konishi Brewing Co. won a gold for Arima Japan Ale in the Experimental Beer category. It is a  wheat and rice ale, made with high-quality Yamada Nishike sake rice. Haven't seen it around anywhere in Japan as yet.
Chateau Kamiya Ushiku Brewery took a gold for its Sakura Mankai Lager in the Herb and Spice Beer group. Quite a crowded category, too, with 129 entries.This is a fruit beer, which is reminiscent of sakura mochi.

DevilCraft is a relatively new brewery (opened in September 2015), and that makes their gold medal for Arch Devil in the British-Style Stout category all the more impressive.

In a real suprise, Minoh Beer won a gold for their stout in the Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout. This stout has been widely available in Japan for years, and is sometimes great and sometimes not. It has also won awards several times at the much less competitive UK-based World Beer Awards competition. I really kind of doubt that it is an "Irish" stout.

Asahi Breweries  won a silver medal for Asahi The Dream in the Light Lager category. What to say about this? At least it's not a nightmare.

Yo-Ho Brewing Co.  took silver in the very competitive (118 entries) American-Style Strong Pale Ale category. Yo-Ho is the largest craft brewery in Japan, and makes the convenience store mainstay Yona Yona Ale

Iwate Kura Beer  got a bronze medal for its Oyster Stout in the Experimental Beer category. Brewed with oyster shells (not oysters), this is a pleasant and mild sort of stout which has a 3.45/5 rating on RateBeer.
Update May 20: I just heard fom the writer of the オ州酒ブログ (Oshuushu) blog that this stout will likely be available at this year's Oregon Brewer's Festival in Portland (July 27-31). Give it try if you see it there.

The final medal was a bronze for Ise Kadoya Brewery's Golden Dragon in the Session Beer grouping.

So, new and old. Classic and experimental. Aged and fresh session. Quite a variety of style categories represented here, and likely not what most people must think when (or if) they hear of Japanese craft beer. 


  1. Hi Nevitt, for your Oregon-based readers, Iwate Kura's Oyster Stout should be available at this year's Oregon Brewers Festival!

  2. Red, Thanks for the info. I added it.

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