Thursday, May 18, 2017

地ビール祭京都 2017 / Craft Beer Festa Kyoto 2017

I intentionally did not go to the Craft Beer Festa Kyoto last year. I remembered the 2015 event, and the discomfort of being stuck in a more or less immobile and thirsty crowd, trying to navigate the ridiculously long lines at the beer booths (and, of course, also at the toilets). The venue is an 800-meter long shopping arcade, which is much too narrow for the number of people who show up.

This year, I decided to chance it, since there were a few breweries attending whose beers I had rarely or never had the chance to sample..

I arrived at just after opening time, and the crowds were already swarming. Long lines at the beer booths were snaking down the street, around into the side streets, and in some cases morphing into hairpin shapes in the main street.

But I soon discovered that most of the breweries I was interested in had fairly short waiting times and that those situated at the extreme ends of the arcade often had no lines at all.

Thirty seven breweries were on show, with a heavy emphasis on Kansai-area companies.

I had wanted to try more of Talmary, a relatively new brewery from Tottori, whose beers have not yet shown up much in this area. I was not disappointed with their Spring Blonde, Smoke Brown, and Tripel Triple. Talmary is noted for producing a variety of wild yeast beers, but it seems they are also making more styles now.

Another brewery whose beers are hard to get is Zakkoku Kobo (Saitama). We chatted with the brewer and enjoyed glasses of Irodori (saison), Sansho Porter. and the thick, smoothie-like Berry Much (fruit beer)

The fast-rising Kyoto Brewing Company was also in attendance, showcasing many of their beers, including two new ones: Sandomemashite (Double IPA) and Minami Hankyuu no Yuuhi (Sunset Down Under), a wheat ale brewed with New Zealand hops. Also, although some breweries show up with only three or four different beers, Kyoto Brewing had fully ten on offer.

Strangely, a couple of the other Kyoto representatives -- Kyoto Machiya and Kizakura -- seemed underappreciated, with swarms of people moving right past the loud touts who were attempting to draw customers in.

                                                         ... perhaps some Kyoto Machiya beer...???

Mark Meli, author of Craft Beer in Japan: The Essential Guide, was at the Japan Beer Times table, talking with all who stopped by.

I honestly enjoyed the festival this year. That said, I really hope that the organizers can find another, more spacious, venue for future festivals....  and one with better toilet facilities (where a sign such as the one below will not be warranted) .....

                                                     ..... I think we need a "No" here....

 However, I was somehow able to get to most of the beers that I wanted to try without feeling exhausted or frustrated. I'm sure it's not an easy task to put together an event of this scope, and I am thankful that there are people willing to do it.