Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Got 35,680 empty beer cans?

If so, you might want to try beating the Guinness World Record for "largest aluminium can sculpture." This record was set in early September by three groups from Takatori-cho, Nara Prefecture. They created a replica of Takatori Castle with 35,679 empty cans donated by 380 households as well as by local companies.

For a video news report, look HERE.

Of course, the record is for the "largest" sculpture, so perhaps you can do it with fewer cans.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Charlie Papazian in Japan

Charlie Papazian, the iconic beer writer, festival director, and magazine founder visited Japan recently. His book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, has probably encouraged and guided more aspiring brewers than any other volume. He has been posting occasional articles on the Examiner.com web site, in which he chronicles his beer adventures around the country. Each article has an accompanying slide show.

He first stopped in Tokyo to serve as a judge for the International Beer Competition. The article also gives a brief overview of the Japanese craft beer scene and how it has changed since his last visit 14 years ago.
Have a look here:
Discovering Craft Beer in Japan

His next stop in Yokohama, an up and coming beer city, where he visits several beer spots, including Yokohama Brewery, El Nubichinom, Brewpub Pangaea, and T.Y. Harbor Brewery.
Yokohama - city of beer surprises

The third article describes a beer and food pairing event, in which he comes across several types of indigenous brews made with local ingredients, such as shiso, melon, and natto. He also marvels at the intricate yet efficient Japanese system of distribution, specifically that for chilled beer. Oh, and at the end of the evening, he somehow manages a visit to Popeye, the best beer bar in Japan.
The Good Marriage in Tokyo is Beer & Food

The fourth article opens with a glowing description of Africa Pale Ale, made by Shiga Kogen, which Japan-based beer geeks will probably note as the most competent, consistent, and just plain best brewery in the country. He also visits the newish beer pub, The Watering Hole, and ends the evening at Craft Beer Market.
Africa Pale Ale, good hope & more Tokyo beer shenanigans

Fifth, Papazian heads out of Tokyo and southwest, to Wakayama, a resort town. Her spends time at Nagisa Beer and also notes that his father had visited the same town in 1945.
Wakayama, Japan - a beer place I was destined to visit

The next article promises to be about the Osaka beer scene and, we assume, the two Oshita sisters who brew at Minoh Beer. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sampling Session -- October 6, 2012

It was a cool cloudy day, and a bit windy at up Lefty's place high in the hills above Kyoto. Five of us gathered for an unusual sampling session -- saisons and stouts, two radically different styles, but two that all of us love.

We went through about ten of each, with the saisons first of course.

Here are some of the standouts:


Hill Farmstead E.         4.5 (out of 5)
Manure demons escaping into the ether, crushing citrus fruit and raining it down on the earth. Explosions of fruit in the initial; mid palate is full of overripe and even rotten fruit; final is sharp and tart and stays on the tongue a good long while. Exceptionally complex, in both aroma and flavor. One guy at the table kept a quarter-glass of this for a few hours, so we could occasionally have a scent of it. Transporting and transfixing beer.

Fantôme Santé-12!     4.3
2008 vintage. Chopped weeds, pencil lead, and lemon pie aromas. Cloudy yellowish-orange. Lemon dominates the initial; candi sugar sweetness emerges in mid palate; then smooth mild lemon; subtle bitter finish. Very smooth, with a complex aroma. This one has aged very well.

Boulevard Smokestack Series - Saison Brett     4.1
2012 vintage. Sweetish, light lemon, slight Brett notes in aroma. Clear pale yellow color. Smooth, light peach and kiwi flavors. Mild mid palate and final. As smooth as can be. Maybe it needs some aging. I’ve had an earlier vintage and it was quite a bit better than this one.


Struise Black Albert     4.2
Heavy dark fruit, stewed prunes and raisins. Strong fruit: berries with crushed fruit in mid palate; smooth balanced finish. Outstanding aromas and flavors, fresh and juicy

Struise Cuvée Delphine     4
2009 vintage. This is Black Albert aged in Four Roses barrels. Smooth refined dark fruit aromas. Dark, near black, translucent at edges. Very smooth, with chocolate flavors blending nicely. Balanced and matured.

Mikkeller Black Hole Barrel Aged Edition Cognac     4
Dark chocolate aroma, along with a chemical, phenolic note. Initial flavor features a big burst of chocolate and vanilla; mid palate is sweet chocolate cake. Then the alcohol blasts through and stays strong in the aftertaste. A young and promising imperial. I'd like to have it again in a year or two.

Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)     4
Super strong coffee syrup, sweet chocolate aromas -- then the bourbon sneaks in and takes over. Coffee flavors begin smoothly, and then go a bit harsh. The bourbon complements (and does not overwhelm) the aromas and flavors. Maybe a touch past its prime. I had the same vintage two years ago, and it was much richer and fuller.