Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Craft Beer Festa Kyoto 2014 / 地ビール祭京都 2014

The Craft Beer Festa Kyoto 2014 was held on May 10. Thirty-two breweries (three more than last year) from all parts of Japan set up stalls in the six-block-long Sanjo Association Shopping Arcade.

                                               ... before the crowd arrived

                                                ... lining up at opening time

                                                         Y Market Brewing (newly opened and very good!)

                                              Kaigun-san no Bakushu (Kure Beer)


                                                Outsider Brewing (before the crowds got there)

                                      Mark Meli (author of Craft Beer in Japan: The Essential Guide)

It got crowded fairly soon. Eventually, navigating the narrow shopping arcade became a slow and increasingly arduous process, especially when bicycle riders attempted to move through the crowd.

Many of the shops along the arcade go into the act this year, offering a wide range of foods, from edamame to hot dogs to Kyoto tsukemomo.

Unfortunately, the toilet situation was unchanged from last year, and long lines soon appeared at the one public toilet (located in a public park). A steady stream of imbibers invaded the nearby Seiyu supermarket to use their restrooms. The Seiyu staff seemed to handle this well, more or less ignoring the beer-toting toilet pilgrims. Well, at least some attendees bought snacks there, along with many bottles of British ales which were on sale.

Most breweries ran out of one or another of their beers. In fact, Baird Beer sold out completely before I had a chance to work my way down to their booth.

Here are a few of the day’s standout beers:

Miyajima Weizenbock 
Big banana aroma bomb, lots of tropical fruit in the nose, and some cane sugar. Cloudy medium straw color. Sugary sweet fruitiness right away, loads of fruitiness (mango, pineapple, guava), good tang in mid and final. Medium body, a little rough -- but pleasant and slightly astringent. Very fruity and tasty.

Y Market Hop Seduction Session IPA
Large pine/citrus mix in aroma, and hefty amount of caramel behind it. Cloudy medium straw color, lots of carbonation rising. Thick tobacco-like bittering right away, light caramel, peppery in mid and final. Aroma-hopped stuff, and the bittering moves all the way throughout the palate. Aromas and flavors are those of a double IPA, and this at only 4.5%. A nice introduction to one of the newest breweries in Japan.

Daisen G Imperial Lager
Deep heavy caramel in front of a clear bitter nose. Dark reddish amber color with a latte-like creamy head. Medium roastiness, approaching coffee, very thick bittering, and rich dark fruits. Serious bittering in this one, constantly present. Finished smooth and balanced. Great stuff.

Brimmer Pale Ale
Rich malty nose, lots of sweet caramel. Dark reddish/amber color. Big caramel, yeast, balanced in mid, with light raisin notes and some ripe apple. Medium body, nice on the palate. The bittering works very well in this one. Tasty and very malt-forward.

Brimmer Sauvin Wheat
Tangy, wheaty nose, with some sourish grapes. Cloudy honey color. Mild wheat initial, a bit catty in mid (hello, Nelson Sauvin!), light bittering in mid and final, and a smooth and tangy finish. Very delicate Sauvin notes throughout.

Akashi Pils
Light, pleasant grassy nose. Slightly hazy medium straw color, with a very creamy white head and good lacing. Solid grassy initial, some graininess, gets sweet in the mid and final. Very subtle hopping. Great flavor changes throughout the palate. Very well made.