Sunday, May 20, 2018

Craft Beer Fest Kyoto 2018 / 地ビール祭京都 2018

The 2018 beer festival season in the Kansai region kicked off on Sunday, May 13 in Kyoto. The Craft Beer Fest Kyoto 2018 was the ninth iteration of this annual festival.

It was a dim rainy day, but fortunately the venue is a long (800-meter) covered shopping arcade. The lousy wet weather may have kept some people home, but it also made things more crowded, as the side streets were not an outlet for patrons desiring a respite from the crush.

Thirty five Japanese breweries provided nearly 200 varieties of beer. Breweries new to the festival this year included Hinotani Beer, Kibi Doteshita Beer, Kyoto Beer Lab/Cha Beer, Kyoto Woodmill Brewery, Rise & Win Brewing Co., and Songbird.

I was interested in the new Kyoto breweries (above), and found that they were well on their way to making interesting and unusual beers. Kyoto Beer Lab features a number of tea brews (hence "Cha" Beer).

Also of interest was Songbird, a true nanobrewery located in Chiba. The friendly owners specialize in Belgian-style beers, and their Natsumikan to Shoga wheat beer did not disappoint.

As is true every year, the venue got crowded soon after opening time. It was fairly manageable for for the most part; however there were bottlenecks for several stretches, and other areas proved to be nigh impassable. I did not venture east of the park area, and hence missed the entire A Section, which held a few beer stands I'd hoped to visit, including Outsider.

                                                 the Fujizakura Heights brewer, a true master...

Stalwart breweries, Kyoto Brewing and Fujizakura Heights, provided the highlights of the festival (for me anyway). Kyoto Brewing unveiled their third anniversary beer, Sanshunen, a tasty IPA made from a kettle sour. Fujizakura Heights had two different 20th anniversary beer, but their Dragon Mosaic 2017 weizenbock was a superbly well-rounded and juicy exemplar of the style.

Well into the afternoon and after several samples, the rain and crowds no longer seemed to matter.

Next up: Craft Beer Live in Osaka (May 26-27)

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