Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Craft Beer Live 2017

I somehow managed to miss Craft Beer Live last year. This is really one of the less-exciting annual beer events on the calendar. I generally go to it with rather low expectations, and they are usually met. This year's was held on May 27-28 in the spacious Minatomachi River Place behind Namba Hatch.

It is limited to Kansai-area breweries, some of which are rather small and not terribly proficient. A number of them, such as Sakai Harvest Hill are attached to farm-resort parks, while others (e,g,, Izushi Shiroyama Garden) are connect to hotels.

This festival is, however, a chance to catch up on newer breweries and also to check out the latest beers from these smaller ones, which rarely, if ever, appear on tap lists in local craft beer bars.

This year's event featured the following 27 breweries who supplied 130+ different beers:

Osaka Prefecture
Dotonbori Beer   (4 beers)
Kuninocho Beer   (6)
MARCA   (6)
Minoh Beer   (9)
Sakai Harvest Beer (Harvest Hill)  (4)

Kyoto Prefecture
Ichijouji Brewery   (5)
Kizakura Beer   (5)
Kyoto Brewing Company   (12)
Machiya Beer   (5)
Tango Oukoku Craft Beer    (7)

Hyogo Prefecture
Izushi Shiroyama Garden   (3)
Awaji Beer   (3)
Akashi Beer   (7)
Kinosaki Beer   (4)
Konishi Beer   (5)
Rokko Beer   (4)
BrewPub Starboard   (2)
Harbor Beer Kobe   (3)
Zigzag Brewery   (8)

Nara Prefecture
Soni Kougen Beer   (4)
Golden Rabbit   (3)

Wakayama Prefecture
Heiwa Craft   (4)
Nagisa Beer   (6)
Sandaime   (3)
Voyager Brewing   (2)

Shiga Prefecture
Biwako Iimichi Beer   (4)
Nagahama Roman Beer   (5)

Of course, the quality of beers presented varied considerably. A few breweries (Sandaime, Biwako Iimichi, and Zigzag) really need to work on their brewing techniques (or perhaps sanitation? or maybe get better ingredients?). I'm hoping that they shock me next year with some worthy beers.

One pleasant surprise was a collaboration beer, Hidamari Saison, made by Dotonbori and Akashi. Both are long-established, yet Dotonbori has never really impressed me much. Akashi, on the other hand, makes great pilseners and weizens. This new saison was clearly a step in a new direction for both of them.

Kyoto Brewing Co, was serving their relatively new Mirage of Darkness, which I enjoyed tremendously -- until a small cicada splashed right into my glass. I feel it is the best Black IPA (sans cidaca) currently made in Japan.

BrewPub Starboard has hired a new brewer, and he produced an excellent IPA.

Overall, the event was well-organized, fun, and filled with beer (from the ghastly to the very good, the execrable to the excellent), and I'm looking forward to going again next year.