Saturday, December 25, 2010

Beer Glasses #3: Weizen (Wheat Beer) Glass

Weizen glasses are taller and thinner than most, and the shape highlights the colors, the banana-like aromas , and yeastiness of unfiltered wheat beers. 

They narrow at the bottom and widen near the top, which produces carbonation that allows for a big, fluffy head of foam. German weizen glasses usually hold half a liter, but those in other countries may be smaller. These glasses can be used with any type of wheat beer, including dunkelweizen, hefeweizen and kristalweizen.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Beers

Christmas beer has been with us for a long time -- before the Christian era and hence before Christmas was established. Farmers have long celebrated the beginning of the winter season with strong beer. Europeans, especially Belgians and Germans, have a tradition of holiday beers. However, in United States it wasn't until San Francisco's Anchor Beer began producing their annual Our Special Ale (5.5%) in the 1970s that craft brewers there began to create a holiday offering.

Christmas beers almost always come with big flavors and big alcohol, and they are usually spiced with varying combinations of cinnamon, coriander, cloves, ginger, and honey. A few years ago, Minoh Beer in Japan created a wonderful holiday ale by spicing up their strong Imperial Stout with sansho (a peppery spice normally used on grilled eel).

I'm looking forward to a Christmas party at my friend's house, high in the hills above Kyoto. He's collected 15 big bombers of Christmas beers, and I and other friends will bring even more.

Here are a few classic Christmas beers. See if you can find them in time for the holidays.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale (10%)                                  
Scaldis Noel (12%)
N'Ice Chouffe (10%)
Delirium Noël (10%)
La Mère Noël (8.4%)
Dupont Avec Les Bon Voeux (9.5%)
De Struise Tsjeeses (10%)
Hurlimann Samichlaus (14%)

Great Divide Hibernation Ale Colorado (8.7%)
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (6.8%)
Deschutes Jubelale (6.7%)

Hitachino Nest New Year Celebration Ale (8%)


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beer Glasses #2: The Mug

Mugs are heavy, large glasses with handles that come in many sizes and shapes. The handles make these heavy glasses easy to pick up and set down. In Japanese, they are called jokki ( ジョッキ).

During Oktoberfest in Germany, beer is served in hefty one-liter mugs, called Maßkrug -- in Japanese, dai-jokki (大ジョッキ) --, and people have no fear in clanking them together during toasts.


A Stein (or tankard) is a variation on the Mug, made of stone, silver, porcelain, or glass. Steins are often very elaborately decorated. They may be fitted with a lid, supposedly to keep flies out of the beer.

Mugs may be used for any kind of lager beer, as well as doppelbock, porter, or Märzen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shiga Kogen House IPA

Went to Liquor Shop Ashiya recently, primarily to pick up some Christmas beers for an upcoming year-end party. But the shop had a good selection of Japanese micros, too. And so I bought several to take home. Last night I settled in early and opened a bottle of Shiga Kogen House IPA, one of the six styles made by Nagano-based Tamamura-Honten brewery.

I've had it before, both on tap and bottled. Some time ago, Lefty and I drank it side by side with Green Flash West Coast IPA, and we both agreed that the Shiga Kogen was a better-balanced and tastier beer. 

What a beauty it is, with a dusky orange/gold color, pleasant carbonation, and some lacing on the glass. The aroma is quite hoppy and citrusy. It is a full-bodied beer, made with 100% Maris Otter malt and what seems to be a blend of hops, though Cascade predominates in the flavor. Strong taste of grapefruit, peaches, and maybe a hint of apricot. Goes down smoothly and has a long bitter finish. It leaves a slight alcohol burn in the throat, and I could feel it inside for some time afterwards. This 8.2% double IPA packs a punch.

You can find a page HERE (in Japanese) about the beers made by Tamamura-Honten Co.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beer Glasses #1: The Pint

There are many kinds of beer glasses. Most are designed to highlight certain features of beer (for example, clarity, color, aroma, or the head of foam.

Let's look at some, starting with the pint glass, which is the most commonly used glass in American craft beer bars. These are usually thick glass cylinders that widen toward the mouth. 

One type is the 16-ounce (473ml.) American pint. The larger Imperial pint, sometimes called the English pint, contains 20 ounces (568ml.) and features a bump near the top. These glasses often have a line near the top indicating the correct amount of beer.

Pint glasses can be used for almost any kind of beer, but they are most often filled with pale ale, India pale ale, brown ale, porter, and stout. Cheers and kampai !!!