Tuesday, May 22, 2012

地ビール祭京都 / Kyoto Craft Beer Festival 2012

The third annual Craft Beer Festa Kyoto was held on a beautiful sunny Sunday in mid-March. The location was the same as last year, the Sanjo Association Shopping Arcade, but attendance (one estimate was 5,000) seemed to be way up over last year's event.

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.

Harvestmoon Schwarz
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.

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