Sunday, 25 March 2018

Kinki Beers: Duncan Brotherton and the history behind Kinki Beers

Osaka: Kuninocho, Doutonbori, Minoh, Sakai Harvest, Chitei Ryoko, Marca, Têtard Vallée § Kyoto: Ichijyouji, Kizakura, Kyoto Machiya, Kyoto Brewing Co., Tango Kingdom § Hyogo: Izushi Shiroyama, Zigzag, Awaji, Kinosaki, Akashi, Konishi, Rokko, Kihachiro, Kobe Taishikan, Starboard, In Tha Door, Harbor Beer, Toki § Nara: Soni Kougen, Golden Rabbit, Mugiya § Wakayama: Heiwa Craft, Nagisa, Voyager Brewing, Sandaime, Blue Wood § Shiga: Biwako Iimichi, Nagahama Roman, Blumen no Oka
Craft beer fan Duncan Brotherton ( sets out on an epic journey to discover all 36 Kinki Breweries in the Kansai area. (日本語は下にあります!) 


Kinki Beers showcases the craft beer breweries in the Kansai area. So far just under 1/3 of the breweries in Kansai have been feature; Nagisa, Akashi Beer, Kyoto Brewing Co., Heiwa Craft, Zigzag Brewery, Golden Rabbit, KONISHI Beer, Ichijyouji and Harvest Hill (in that order).
Duncan Brotherton is a freelance designer and translator based in Kyoto. He works as a designer for the annual craft beer event showcasing brewerys in Kansai, called Craft Beer Live, designs beer labels for the collaboration beer Think Tank Beers and redesigned the logo for Dotonbori Beer in 2017.

FLAG - Foreigner's Live Art Guide
Time flies when you’re drinking beer; and here we are at the 10th article in the Kinki Beers series. I feel that a 10th article is a small milestone, which prompted me to do something different from another brewery interview. Rather than forwards I think it’s better (for myself more than anyone else) to go back and rediscover how I got here; not just writing Kinki Beers, but also as the designer for the annual gathering of craft beer breweries in the Kansai area Craft Beer Live (CBL), doing beer labels for Think Tank Beers and the new logo for Dotonbori Beer in Osaka. 
I’m a designer by trade, and from 2008-2014 I worked independently in a share office in Osaka called OOO (Out of Office) doing odd design jobs here and there. A friend and I started a freepaper called FLAG (Foreigner’s Live Art Guide), which we published on and off over the years. It was an interesting, self initiated job, and I learned a lot about editorial work while doing it. I was drinking more craft during my time at OOO, and thought it would be cool to design a beer label. The designer I used to do FLAG with, Tetsuya Goto, gave me some advice one day; “if you really want to design a beer label, why not start with a freepaper?”
Which brings us to Gee! Beer, a freepaper I ran for a whopping two issues before I realized that I had more fun making it than I did distributing. Freepapers are an emotional sinkhole in a way; you give them out and get nothing back… it was natural that the fire sizzled out. I made the first issue about the time Beer Zen started I think. I remember meeting Maek Post for a beer at Yellow Ape to talk about our magazines and their directions; Ajen Birmingham put us in touch when he heard we were both going to launch craft media at the same time. We’ve always kept in good contact; we teamed up to run a homebrew event in 2013 at Chitei Ryoko in Bentencho called “BREWLAB” (totally legal, relax).
Because Gee! Beer was to be a first issue, I wanted to introduce some events happening in the Kansai area. I did a bit of research and heard about Craft Beer Live 2013, which happened to coincide with the release. I called the number on their makeshift website and Miyoshi-san from Kyoto Machiya beer (Kinshimasamune) picked up; I said I wanted to interview a brewery and introduce their event. She put me in touch with Kutsuna-san at Dotonbori beer, the lady who practically runs CBL, and we hooked up for my first ever brewery interview. Gee! Beer, was a bellows style fold-out freepaper with lots of space, so I wrote about Miyoshi-san talking about why we should all drink craft. One side featured Craft Beer Live.
I really worked hard at that showcase; it would have been easy to just write a column about the event, but I thought it would be more interesting to feature all the breweries and their beers offered at the event. I phoned the 19 breweries who participated that year. I got them to send me a pic, a short intro, and recommend something from their lineup. It was hard work, but my experience from FLAG helped. I think at this time I first began to feel that the Japanese language was no longer a hindrance, and that even by myself I could do anything with a bit of gumption.
Kutsuna-san was very happy with Gee! Beer and asked if she could hand it out CBL 2013; almost all the copies I printed disappeared there. I was having a drink at Dotonbori beer after the event telling her about how I was really impressed. All these breweries scattered all over Kansai, coming together, putting aside competition, etc. to bring craft beer people to the people of Osaka. A few beers down and I said their website needed work; it wasn’t good. Right on the spot she says “well, why don’t you do it?” And next thing you know I’m working on the CBL 2014 official website. In 2015, she asked me if I had an idea for the tees that the staff have. I had always though that the CBL image was weak. It needed to show ‘Kansai’ and ‘all the breweries’ in a way that everyone could understand (i.e. English), and hence the CBL identity was born. It became the glasses, which sold out. And from 2016 I was doing posters, fliers, tickets… the whole works.
But the real clinch for me was when Kutsuna-san invited me in for a meeting one time and said that every year she joins the guys at Akashi Brewery (Hashimoto-kun and formerly Shiro-san) to brew. At that time their beer was called “Hero Beer.” It was an interesting name but I thought it said little about the beer itself. When I asked about why they collaborated, she said it was an important chance for them both to learn a bit about brewing from each other; a study group. I asked if the beer had a fixed name. Nothing. Would they mind if I proposed one. Sure.
A chance to do a beer label with the naming thrown in is a designers wet dream. And so, Think Tank Beers, with a name that more accurately reflects exactly what it is, was born with a draftsman’s image. That advice that Tetsuya gave me actually came to fruition, with a cherry on top; In 2016 I was called in by Kutsuna-san to have a meeting with her boss who was looking at a Dotonbori Beer rebrand and wanted a new logo. I’m still surprised and flattered they asked me. And so the old Dotonbori Beer logo, which was an image of the Shochikuza theater was replaced with a more appropriate logo showing a more familiar image of the Dotonbori river at Sunset, which is when the area really comes alive.
Maek and I sit at the information booth at CBL each year. He gives out copies of Beer Zen and sells tees and I try to steer patrons in the right beer direction. In 2015 he asked me to write about local beer. It was a great opportunity. I enjoy sitting down and having a proper talk to local brewers, and being involved in CBL makes it all the easier. CBL and Beer Zen offer an important way for people in Kansai to discover what the area has to offer, and I’m happy to be involved. And now we’re 10 issues in. Already. So what’s next? I think I might start again with Dotonbori Beer.

Gee! Beer Issue 01

Gee! Beer Issue 02

Brew Lab: A homebrew event, beer for everyone

Craft Beer Live 2017

Think Tank Beers, labels from 2014-2016

Think Tank Beers, 2017 Poster

Think Tank Beers, 2017 Poster

Dotonbori Beer branding

飲んでいると時間が早くたつもうはやKinki Beersの10号目ですね10回目はすこしでもの標石ので普段のブリュワリーに取材するより違うことしようかなぁと思いました自分のためでもあり前に進むより過去を振り返て現在地にどうやって来たか再度調べるべきだとKinki Beersの記事以外にもCRAFT BEER LIVE以下CBLのデザイン担当、「THINK TANK BEERSのラベルデザインと道頓堀ビールの新しいロゴデザインをどうやってやるようになったんでしたけ
2008〜2014年の間、OOO (Out of Office)というシェアオフィスで活動していました。そのデザイナーでいる後藤哲也さんと「FLAG (Foreigner's Live Art Guide」のフリーペーパーを運営していて編集についてたくさん学べた。ビールに興味ある僕がラベルデザインしたくて、かれが「ラベルデザインやりたいなら、クラフトビール誌から始まったらどう?」とアドバイスがあった。
ほんで「Gee! Beer」が生まれた。フリーペーパーって、大変です。配達よりデザインのほうが楽しかったので2号以降続けませんでした。第1号はBEER ZENと同じタイミングに発行したと思う。そのころ、Yellow Apeで編集長のマイクさんといろいろ自分らのアイディアでお話をしてその後よく連絡取れるようになった。結果として2013年に「BREWLAB」という自家醸造のイベントを弁天町にあるクラフトビールメーカ地底旅行で開催しました。完全に法律上だったので落ち着いてください。
Gee! Beerは第1号のため、イベントを紹介したくてネットでCBL2013年を見つけた。そのころの間に合わせのサイトに載せた電話番号に電話し、京都町家麦秋の三好さんが出ました。CBLを紹介したくて醸造所に取材したと言いました。道頓堀ビールの忽那さんに紹介してくださって初ブリュワリーインタビュー行った。その号の片面はCBLの紹介だった。
ビールラベルとそのネーミングをやるチャンスがデザイナーとして最高でございます。それで「THINK TANK BEERS」とその製図イメージができた。後藤さんから聞いたアドバイスが実を結んだ。さらに、2016年に道頓堀ビールの新しいロゴを作ってくださいと忽那さんに依頼されました。今でもその機会をうれしく光栄に思います。そして道頓堀ビールの古い松竹座イメージのロゴがより相応しい日暮れの道頓堀川とロゴと入れ替えることができました。前より、「道頓堀」のイメージが伝えているとおもいます。
BEER ZENの編集長マイクさんとCBLでの案内をやっています。かれが誌を配ったりしてTeeシャツを売ったり、僕はビールの選択を迷っている人にアドバイスをする。2015年に関西のビールについて記事を担当してくれと誘えました。CBLに関わって関西の醸造所を知っていて、ビールを作っている人とゆっくり話すことがいつまでも楽しいと思っている僕として、これはとっても良い機会だと。CBLとBEER ZENのおかげさんで関西のみなさんがローカルとして何があるかより分かるようになっていると思います。僕はそれに関わってなによりです。そしていきなり「Kinki Beers」が10号目です。もうはや。次はなんでしょう?再びスタートで、初インタビューした道頓堀ビールから行こうかなぁ。

Original article featured in Beer Zen #19

Sunday, 2 February 2014

An interview with Soupcan Stubby Holders, Australia

Photo: Local Australians in Adelaide, South Australia proudly display their stubby holders.

Being an Australian and having studied in South Australia, I made a few good friends down there. One of them is currently running a business producing some of Australia's finest stubby holders; a standard Australian household item and never far from anyone who's just pulled themselves a cold one out of the cooler. "What's a stubby holder?" I hear you ask. Let's ask my good friend Campbel Dandy, owner of Soupcan Stubby Holders.

1. For our non-Australian readers; what exactly is a stubby holder, and why do Australians use them? (初めに、オーストラリアンではない読者のみなさんのために、“スタビーホルダー”について教えてくれる?どうやって使うの?)

A stubby holder (or stubby cooler, or just ‘stubby’) is a piece of wetsuit rubber—or ‘Neoprene’—sewn into a cylindrical shape with a circular base put on it. It holds a drink and acts as an insulation device to keep your drink cold in hot weather. Traditionally they are available in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA, and other places with warm climates.


2. Where did they come from? (スタビーホルダーはどこから来たの?)

I don’t know much about where they come from, but you can read about them under “beer koozie” in Wikipedia (god bless Wikipedia). The materials have changed a lot over the years; the original ones were made from plain foam. They’ve been around for years in Australia where they have thrived, as we have hot or warm weather most of the year. Every Australian household has a box full of stubby coolers somewhere, which is dragged out at parties. I’d say it’s an integral item on the list required to be an Australian.

In Australia, our standard beer bottles are called ‘stubbies’ because at 375ml they’re shorter and fatter than the standard 330ml slender size. These unique stubby holders are specially designed for Australian bottles, but the size and the stretchy material makes them suitable for just about anything from cans to plastic bottles as well. Most are used as promotional items for beer brands or other companies, but many organizations or clubs have them made as well.

どこで生まれたか詳しく知らないけど、ウィキペディアのbeer koozie に解説があるよ。スタビーホルダーの素材は、年月を経て変わっていて、もともとは合成樹脂の一種である発泡スチレンを使っていたんだ。スタビーホルダーは1年を通して温暖なオーストラリアでは必需品。どの家庭でも、パーティーの時に使えるようにスタビーホルダーの詰まった箱を置いていてね、いわば「オーストラリアン」にとってのマストアイテムさ。


3. How and when did you get into making stubbies? (スタビーホルダー作りを始めたきっかけは?)

Well, a while back we got our hands on a large format printer and some special ink, and then a heat press and the industrial sewing machine. The equipment you need is actually pretty simple, but the art of a good stubby cooler is in the making. We started by doing some as wedding gifts (including our own wedding, of course). We then had people like Gee! Beer’s Mr. Brotherton, ask about them for his own wedding. It seemed a bit of a trend was catching on, so we decided to put an ad on Facebook and see if there was a market. Business really took off.


4. How far has your business come? (ビジネスの調子はどう?)
We went from 6 orders in the first week to selling over 150,000 per year. Most of our customers come through out website. Our stubbies are proudly Australian Made with the highest quality durable materials, which is also part of the reason we believe they’re popular. We’re confident that they will survive many drinks and rough handling; we believe we make the highest quality stubby holders in Australia.

At the moment, it’s my wife Narelle and myself (Campbell Dandy) running the business. We also have shares in a small factory that does the manufacturing. We do everything from production to delivery in in Edwardstown in Adelaide, Australia. It’s good fun. We have a relaxed atmosphere, and make sure each and every stubby we make are produced with great care and much love.



5. How exactly do you make stubbies? (製作工程を教えて。)
The process is Dye sublimation. We print out a design and then heat press it onto a piece of wetsuit rubber, which is then sewn in a tube shape. It’s a pretty simple but it has taken years to perfect. I won’t go into details because everything indoors is a trade secret! I’ll just say that I’m confident no-one else makes them as good as we do.


6. What's the best part of the job for you? (最もやりがいを感じる時は?)
I love doing cool designs for people who like to have a laugh and enjoy being social (and maybe having a drink). I’ve done some good-fun designs for buck’s nights in Australia, and we get great replies from people about how they loved the stubbies. That’s the best thing for us, knowing our product is quality and appreciated.


7. Anything exciting up and coming? (これからのことについて、教えて。)
I have been toying with the idea of 3D printing. The idea would be to create a tube or mug to fit the wetsuit rubber in and have the 3D model and an inscribed logo fitted on the outside; it’s probably going to be very expensive… like that idea of a 24-carrot gold stubby holder I had… I’m still saving up for that one!!


Thanks for the interview, Narelle and Campbel!


Soupcan Stubby Holders

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

An interview with Yoshiharu Hattori from Moku Moku Tezukuri Farm Ji-beer Brewery

From Left: Yoshiharu Hattori (服部義春) (Moku Moku Farm Brewery), Duncan Brotherton (Gee! Beer)

Having a wife from Shiga, I often spend the weekends driving around the countryside with them and visiting various places in the south of the prefecture. One day we visited Moku Moku Tezukuri (hand-made) Farm where I successfully pestered them into giving me the contact information of the brewer there, Hattori-san.

A chilly afternoon in autumn I booked an interview and had a bit of an adventure. This time took my oritatami (fold up) bicycle to Tsuge Station, at the end of the JR Kusatsu Line. You can get there if you change at JR Kusatsu Station. With a local kid eyeballing me as I unfolded it in front of the station, off I went, on a lovely 40-minute ride up to the farm. 


インタビューの約束を取り付けた秋の肌寒い午後、ちょっとした冒険が待っていた。なんと今回は折りたたみ自転車をJR草津線の終着点である柘植駅まで担ぎ、JRに乗り込んでみた。ちなみに柘植駅まではJR草津駅から乗り継ぐことができる。 柘植駅の駅前では子供に見つめられながら、折りたたみ自転車を広げ、ファームまでの40分間のサイクリングを楽しんだ。

Q: Could you tell us about the Moku Moku Brewery?
A long time ago there used to be lots of pigs here in the Iga area where Moku Moku farm is, and we used to run ham workshop as a kind of added value, rather than just selling pork. With the success of the sales of ham we started making gifts, which would sell in cycles; there were a lot of ups and downs, depending on the season. We also had a few wiener making workshops that turned out to be a big success and people started to come from all over the place for those.

Initially it was just the ham, but 17 years ago, the owners of the place expanded the area to include an agricultural park. They introduced farming activities, and created a place where people could interact with animals. It was at this time the brewery opened, becoming the second workshop in the place. Since then we’ve increased again to include a bakery and a tofu factory as well, and now we also produce Jersey milk.

I actually started working here 15 years ago, but I started learning about beer from the two original seniors, who were both locals who had been here since the brewery opened. The equipment here was actually brought over from Chekislovakia. As they were making the building they put in the kettle and the tank. Once it was all set up, a senior craftsman came over from Chekislovakia and trained them for a month in beer brewing. The influence of the equipment and the training is actually why Moku Moku’s pilsner is one of the longest standing beers here.

When they started 17 years ago however, ji-beer was still new on the scene, and they weren’t able to make much because it didn’t sell well. It was still quite early. Apparently our Moku Moku brewery was the 10th (somewhere there) ji-beer brewery in the country to be granted a license.

Q: モクモク地ビール工房に関して教えていただけますか?
もくもくファームのある伊賀地域では昔、豚をたくさん飼っ ていました。また、単に豚肉の販売を行うだけでは無く、付加価値を付けるためにハム製造所を作りました。ハムの製造販売が上手くいったので、周期的に売れ る贈答用のギフトを始めました。ただこれだけではシーズンによっては売れ行きのアップダウンがあるので、製造所のとなりにウィンナー造り体験教室を開催ま した。結果、これが大きな成功を収め、色んな所からお客さんが来るようになりました。


私自身は15年前からこちらで働き始めましたが、地ビール工房のオープン当初からここで働いている地元出身の先輩2人からビール醸造のノウハウを学びました。ここで使用している設備は、実際チェコスロバキアから輸入したものを使っており、建屋を 建てる際にケトルとタンクを設置しました。設置が終わった段階で、チェコスロバキアから職人が来日し、先輩2人にビール 醸造のトレーニングを1カ月間行ったそうです。こういった設備の導入や、熟練した職人のトレーニングによって、モクモクで醸造したピルスナーが長く愛飲されるようになりました。


Q: How did you get into beer yourself, personally?
The company I used to work for previously started out with an intention to make ji-beer, but they ran into bad luck. I also started as a brewing staff member, but I quit when things didn’t work out financially. I went around Japan drinking beer when I worked there, and noticed that ji-beer was a lot different from what the bigger breweries were making. That was the first time I really became totally absorbed in beer. I thought it would be a waste to just give it all up then, even though it didn’t work out with the previous company. After looking around a bit, Moku Moku took me in as a staff member.

Q: 服部さん自身はどのようにしてこの業界へ?
私が以前勤めていた会社が、地ビール醸造を始める予定でした。私自身もそこで醸造担当スタッフの1人として働き始めたのですが、資金面で上手くいかず、ブルワリーをオープンできなかったため辞めてしまいました。 会社にいた時、日本国中を巡りながら色んなビールを飲んで来ました。この経験から、地ビールは大きな醸造会社が造るものとは全然違うことに気が付きました。これがきっかけでビールにハマるようになりました。前働いていた所が駄目だったらと言って、ここで全て諦めてしまうともったいないと思うようになり、色々探しているうちに、モクモクファームが私を受け入れてくれる事になりました。

Q: How much beer do you make?
Well, we have 12 tanks in the fermentation room here; 6 one-ton tanks and 6 two-ton tanks. There are also 4 additional tanks on the other side of the hall in the bottling room. Only one of them is available at the moment. At the moment we are producing a lot of Barley Wine, so usually 3 of the two-ton tanks are full at any given time. It’s a pretty hard turnover of beer. At the brewery it’s just myself and one other staff member; Yumika Morishita. We do everything by ourselves, so we don’t make extremely large quantities.

Q: 醸造量は?

Q: Could you tell us about the styles you make? 
We must have made over 60 different beers in the past. We have a long history. We usually have Haru Urara available, and the Golden Pilsner. Aside from the standards our brews rotate in and out depending on the season. In summer we offer the Red Larger, and then in November and December we sell the Amber Ale. Last autumn we put out a Blueberry Ale, and then we also have our Barley Wine.

The Golden Pilsner and Amber Ale have been around since the opening of the place. We tend to brew old favorites or beers that people enjoy, like Haru Urara. Having a constant turnover of styles is hard because we don’t have the tank capacity. That’s the big reason we try to keep it seasonal. The Barley Wine is a bit of a characteristic mainstay at the moment. It’s a beer, but not really a beer; at 10%, it’s sweet like a sherry and a really heady aroma to it. It’s something different altogether.

Q: 醸造しているビールのスタイルについて教えていただけますか?

ゴールデンピルスナーとアンバーエールは、地ビール工房の開業時からある商品です。普段、古くから好まれているビールや、春うららのような人気のあるものを中心に造っています。タンクの容量に限りがあるので、絶えず 入れ変えをするのは結構大変ですので、季節によって変えるようにしています。今の所バーレーワインがちょっと特徴のある主力製品になっています。ビールだけれど、ビールでは無い、みたいな。アルコール度数10パーセントで、シェリー酒のような甘くて芳醇な香りが特徴ですね。全体的に他の商品とは異なります。

Q: What would you recommend for to new drinkers?
I usually try to ask what people like to drink before I recommend something, but usually I recommend the golden pilsner for guys who like beer. It’s a little sweet, so it’s popular with ladies, who usually don’t drink a lot of beer. If you’re a real beer drinker, try the slightly sweet Haru Urara. But personally, I’m really proud of our Barley Wine too.

Q: 新しく挑戦する人にはどのようなビールをお勧めしますか?

Q: Could you tell us about the “Moonlight Ale” beer you produced? It has an interesting concept.
The whole time the beer was fermenting, we played it Debussy’s famous classic Moonlight Sonata (Clair de Lune) continuously to celebrate the 150th year of his birthday (in 2012). We’ve actually been doing concept beers like this on and off for a while now. Something good might happen to the beer even if it’s only at the atomic level, and that’s why we do it. In previous years, we’ve also put out beers that have had Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt played to them. We also put them out in autumn, which is a time for the arts and enjoying things like this. We’ve been trying to do one a year.

Q: 服部さんがプロデュースされた「月の光のエール」に関して教えていただけますか? なんだか面白そうなコンセプトですが・・

Q: Have Moku Moku’s beers won any awards?
Yes, Haru Urara took gold in an American hefeweizen style in the World Beer Cup (WBC). The Golden pilsner took a bronze (WBC) a while ago in the bohemian pilsner, which is a Chekislovakian style. That was quite a while though.

Q: モクモクの地ビールの受賞経験は?
そうですね。過去には「春うらら」がワールド・ビア・カップ(WBC)にてアメリカンスタイル・ヘーフェヴァイツェン・スタイルで金賞を獲得しました。あと、かなり昔の話ですが、「ゴールデンピルスナー」もWBCでチェコスロバキアのスタイルである、ボヘミアン・ピルスナーで銅賞を受賞しました 。

Q: Could you tell us about Moku Moku’s customers?We have customers visiting Moku Moku Farm from Osaka and Kyoto, but also from Nagoya as well. Here in Mie, we’re kind of in the middle. A new highway has popped up recently, making access a little easier. Because of the attractions of the farm, we also get a lot of parents bringing their kids on the brewery tours as well. However, a lot of the customer’s don’t know about beer, so we’re generally introducing something totally new to them.

Customers love to have a sample poured directly from the fermenting tanks for them; it gets them interested. I guess most places don’t really do this. It’s something we do to try to get them to understand a little bit more about the fermentation process.

We want people to enjoy what they drink, so we try to offer a range of really different styles. If people can drinking something and enjoy it, without worrying about what style it is, then they’ll probably go right on to the next ji-beer without hesitating. I’m happy if just one of the beers suits our customer’s tastes.

Q: モクモクに来場されるお客さんについて教えてください。



Q: Could you tell us about any plans you have for the future?
Tough question. At the moment, we can’t supply our Barley Wine all year. That’s a short-term goal we’re aiming for, to supply it all year. It’s not just a brewery goal, but my own personal one as well. Also, I’d like to be able to produce all kinds of beers (happoushu) from the farm’s vegetables and fruit sometime in the future. Though it might not be as luxurious compared to the high-quality ingredients available through purchase, it’d be personally satisfying.

We’re always trying to create a chance to introduce great beer to our visitors. We hold numerous beer tours everyday, where even the kids participate (without drinking, of course). The best thing we can do is try to create an opening for people to try something new. If people actually try our beers and like them—even if it’s something so simple as them wanting to try something else—well then great. I wouldn’t call our beers an adventure, but for these new people, it’s something close to it. 

We’re going to continue doing this. Here at Moku Moku farm, we’re always working to try to increase the beer population.

Q: 今後のプランは? 難しい質問ですね。バーレーワインは年中提供することができないので、短期的な目標として、今後は一年中提供できるようにしたいと思います。これは工房としての目標だけでは無く、私個人の目標でもありますね。あと将来的には、ファームで作った野菜・果物からたくさんの種類のビール(発泡酒)を造ってみたいと思います。 豪華な材料を使って造ったものと比べ、高級ではないですが、それが完成できたら私個人として満足ですね。

私達は来場いただいた方に、良いビールを紹介する場を作り続けたいと考えています。そこでお子さん参加型の工場見学を一日に何度か開催したりしています(もちろんお子さんは飲酒厳禁です)。来場者には、何か新しい体験をしてほしいと感じています。来ていただいた方に私達が造ったビールを楽しんでもらい「他の地ビールも試してみたい」と感じてもらえれば、それで十分ですね。 私達のビールは決して冒険と呼ぶものではないかもしれないですが、新しく挑戦する人にとっては冒険に近い物があると思います。 


Q: And lastly, where can we drink Moku Moku Beers?You can get beers on tap at our restaurants, but unfortunately you can’t buy the bottles there (we don’t have the license to sell them). The easiest way to get bottles would be at our online shop. You’ll have to pay for the shipping, but it’s the fastest way. Or you can always come and spend the day at Moku Moku farm and enjoy yourself.

Q: 最後に、モクモクのビールはどこで飲むことが出来ますか?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Brewery Interview: Dotonbori Beer

From Left: Noriko Inoue (interpretation), Duncan Brotherton (Gee! Beer), Tomoyo Kutsuna (Dotonbori Beer)

The Kansai area has it’s own assortment of breweries producing a great range of beer. In this series of Brewery articles, Gee! Beer tries to find out about the human element in the chemistry of brewing. For the first issue, we have interviewed Tomoyo Kutsuna from Dotonbori Beer, co-organizer of Gee! Beer 01’s feature event, “Craft Beer Live 2013.”

関西には、さまざまな種類の素晴らしいビールを生産しているブルワリーがたくさんあります。このブルワリー特集記事のシリーズでは、『Gee! Beer』はビール醸造に携わる人たちを取り上げようと思います。創刊号では、本誌の特集イベント「Craft Beer Live 2013」の実行委員で、「道頓堀麦酒醸造所」の忽那智世さんにお話を伺いました。

Q: How did you get into brewing?
Well, I come from a small island with no high school, and I moved away to go to agricultural high school. As a high school student, I was right into fermentation. Because it was an agricultural high school we used to make miso and soy sauce in home economics. The students next door however, used to raise chickens from eggs and then eat them; it was pretty hard-core. They would scream in fear and bawl their eyes out, but it was all part of the course work. I never understood Tokugawa Ieyasu very much, but I’ve always though yeast was really awesome. My graduate thesis was actually on fermentation. I moved on to brewing in university, and when I graduated I got a job working here. The president of Tachibana wanted to make a beer you could only drink here. That was 17 years ago.

Q: ビール醸造の分野に入られたきっかけを教えてください。
私は高校がない小さな島で育ったので、高校進学 を機に島を出ました。そしてその高校時代に発酵にハマってしまいました。農業高校でしたので、家庭科の授業では味噌や醤油を作っていたんです。ちなみに余 談ではありますが、他の生徒は、卵から孵化したヒヨコを育て、ニワトリになると調理して食べるということをしていたんです。かなりハードコアですよ。みん な怖くて叫んだり、大声で泣きはらしていましたが、これは授業の一貫だったんです。徳川家康についてはあまり理解できなくても、酵母についてはどんどん頭 に入ったんですね。卒業論文はもちろん発酵をテーマに取り組みました。そして大学は醸造科に進み、卒業時に今の仕事に就くことになりました。(「道頓堀麦 酒醸造所」の直営レストランである)「四季自然喰処たちばな」の社長が、そこでしか飲めないビールを作りたいと当時考えていて。17年前のことです。

Q: Could you tell us about Dotonbori Beer?
We’re a bit different to other breweries; we don’t sell Dotonbori Beer outside the restaurant, really. The 100kl we make yearly is just enough for the restaurant. There are only two staff (including myself) brewing beer. 90% of our customers are local people. At noon we have a lot of people coming from the Kabuki, because we’re under the Shouchikuza. There's a special time called makuma; the break time between performances. In the evening, we mainly have salary men. We also offer super dry here, and we sell about 50/50. Believe it or not, I think this is the way it should be. Craft beer is about having choice, not about being the only beer on the menu.

Q: 『道頓堀地ビール』について教えてください。
私たちは、他のブルワリーとは少し違います。『道頓堀地ビール』は本当に店頭で しか販売していません。一年あたり生産する100klはレストラン向けです。私含め、たった二人で醸造しています。お客様の90%は地元の方です。レスト ランが松竹座の階下にあるので、お昼になると多くの歌舞伎鑑賞をされた方がいらっしゃいます。いわゆる、演目の合間の休憩時間である幕間にあたります。夜 になると、お客様は主にサラリーマンの方になります。レストランでは(アサヒビールさんの)『スーパードライ』もお出ししますが、『道頓堀地ビール』とは 半々の売れ行きです。まさかと思われるかもしれませんが、これが私たちのあるべきスタイルだと考えています。クラフトビールは、メニューの中にある唯一の ビールとしてではなく、選択肢のひとつとしてありたいと思っています。

Q: What kind of styles do you make?
Because we’re a restaurant, our standard style is a Kölsch. It has less soda than a pilsner and it’s less bitter; it’s nice and light with a good aroma, and matches well with the Japanese food we serve up (we specialize in Tofu, so we can’t brew heavy beers). We also have an Alt, which has more of a rich flavour, and because we get a lot of return customers we try to offer a 3rd seasonal variation. We’ve had pale ales, weitzens, IPAs and wheat ales. The wheat ale was the most popular amongst them.

Q: どのような種類のビールを作られているのですか?
私たちはレストランですので、定番はケルシュになります。ピルスナーより炭 酸が少なく、苦みもおさえています。香りは軽く、私たちがお出しする日本食に良く合います(豆腐料理を自慢にしていますので、強いビールはつくっていませ ん)。また、風味豊かなアルトもご用意しています。お客様にリピーターになっていただくために、季節限定はペールエール、ヴァイツェン、IPA、ウィート エール中心です。中でもウィートエールが一番人気でした。

Q: What would you like to see happen in the Craft Beer Scene?
Japanese don’t really have a beer culture, so there’s no choice at restaurants. Maybe my way of thinking is a little different to others, but first and foremost I want people in Kansai to drink our beer. I really want pubs in Kansai to sell Kansai beers. Ji-beer also means jimoto (hometown) beer, you know. Not many people know about us at Dotonbori beer, and there are other beers you haven't tried in Kansai as well, right? That’s why a few of us got together to plan the “Craft Beer Live 2013” event in Namba Hatch on May 25th and 26th. Kansai holds a lot of potential; you should come and see for yourself.

Q: クラフトビール・シーンに、どのようなことを期待されますか?
日本人は、本当の意味でのビールカルチャーの中にはいないの で、レストランでのビールの選択肢がないんです。私の考えは他の方と少し違うかもしれませんが、関西の方に真っ先に、私たちのビールを飲んでいただきたい ですね。関西のビールバーには関西のビールを置いてほしいと、切に願っています。ご存知のように、「地ビール」は「地元(ふるさと)のビール」という意味 もあります。あまり多くの方が、私たちの『道頓堀地ビール』をご存知ないだけでなく、関西の他のクラフトビールもあまり飲まれたことがないでしょう?だか らこそ、5/25・26のなんばHatchでのイベント「Craft Beer Live 2013」を、仲間と一緒に計画したんです。関西には、クラフトビールが根付き広がる可能性が大いにありますよ。ぜひ遊びにきてくださいね。

Dotonbori Beer (道頓堀ビール)

Brewing beer exclusively for the Japanese restaurant Tachibana, under the Shochikuza in the Minami area. Regular styles include Kölsch and Alt, plus an additional seasonal beer.

Note: This article is taken from the first issue of the Gee! Beer freepaper. Click here for the online PDF version.

Why Craft Beer? No.01: Chizuko MIYOSHI

Why do people drink craft beer? What’s the attraction? For the first article in this series, Gee! Beer interviewed co-organizer of Craft Beer Live 2013, Chizuko MIYOSHI to see what reasons a brewer in the Kansai Craft Beer scene has.

なぜ人はクラフトビールを飲むのでしょうか?その魅力は何なのでしょうか?『Gee! Beer』は本シリーズの初回に、「Craft Beer Live 2013」の共同運営者である三好ちず子氏にお話を伺いました。関西クラフトビールシーンで活躍するブルワーが考える、クラフトビールの魅力とは?

"You know, we have quite a few craft beer fans. Quite a few fans who are women come in and tell us that they can’t drink the NB (National Brands). When they see our craft beer though, they’re surprised at the amount of types we make. There are lots of colours and aromas, and a range of flavours. I guess diversity is one reason people drink craft. At Kinshimasamune, we have daily tours of the memorial hall and the brewery, and we offer samples to our visitors. We often hear our beers are easy to drink, even from people who have never drunk much beer before. Actually, a few of our visitors converted and only drink craft beer now!"


"As a brewer, I’m always really happy when people see the variety in craft beer. I actually really want more people to know craft; that’s why I’m involved in the “Craft Beer Live” events. People who don’t know much about craft beer tend to think it’s something special. They’ll buy it as a souvenir for their friends or family, but it’s really nothing special at all. It should be something people always drink."

『ブルワーとしては、皆さんに何種類ものクラフトビールを目にしていただく時に、いつも本当に幸せな気持ちになります。本音を申し上げると、もっと多くの方にクラフトビールを知っていただきたいと思います。この気持ちこそ、「CRAFT BEER LIVE」に参加させていただいている理由です。クラフトビールに詳しくない方々はクラフトビールは特別なものと思われている傾向があるようです。ご友人やご家族へのお土産として購入される方がいらっしゃいますが、クラフトビールは全然特別なものではないんですよ。いつもお気軽に飲んでいただける存在でありたいですね。』

"I myself drink craft, mainly. I like Pale Ales (I’m a bit orthodox). You can keep drinking them like a table wine… I suppose you could call them a ‘table beer.’ I like to recommend ‘table beers’ to people who haven’t drunk a lot of craft beer. Pale Ale and Kölsch have a lighter taste than other craft beer and go well with Japanese food; I’d recommend a Brown Ale or Alt to go with strongish food like Italian. Choose the beer to suit the food; everyone does that with wine. When something new comes out however, I have to try it. I’m a brewer, so I can’t only drink one type of beer. I get a lot of strange beers because I meet all kinds of people… In my fridge at home I’ve got a Muscat Ale and a Blueberry Ale."

『私自身も、クラフトビールを主に飲みますよ。月並みですが、ペールエールが好きです。テーブルワインのように多くの方にクラフトビールを飲んでほしいですね。その場合、“ テーブルビール”と呼ぶことをご提案します。あまり多くのクラフトビールを飲んだことがない方に’テーブルビール’をお勧めしたいですね。ペールエールやケルシュは他のビールより軽いテイストで和食ともあいますし、ブラウンエールやアルトならイタリアンなど濃い目の料理をお勧めします。食事のシーンに合わせてビールを選ぶ、ワインなら皆さんそうされてると思いますし。新商品が出ると、私はそれを試飲しなければなりません。私はブルワーですから、一種類のビールだけを飲む訳にはいかないんです。様々な方にお会いするので、変わったビールにも沢山出会いました。自宅の冷蔵庫には、マスカットエールやブルーベリーエールなんてものもあるんです。』

"If you’re headed to Craft Beer Live and you’re not sure what to drink, start with the lighter styles and work up to the heavier ones. Begin with a Kölsch, Golden ale or Pale ale, and then try a Brown Ale or Amber Ale. If it’s too much, switch to a Weizen (Wheat Beer) or a Fruit Ale, and lastly try one of the knockout beers like an IPA. But remember, just have a good time! Craft beer isn’t for connoisseurs; so don’t worry about the flavours. Just try as many as you can and see what you like."

『もし「Craft Beer Live」に来られて、どれを飲むか決めかねられましたら、軽めのものから濃厚感あるものへと試されて行ってください。ケルシュ、ゴールデンエール、ペールエールから始め、ブラウンエール、アンバーエールへとトライしてみてください。コク
が強いと感じたら、ヴァイツェン(ウィートビール)やフルーツエールに切り替えて、最後にIPA のようなアルコール度数や苦みが強いものにチャレンジしましょう。ですが、楽しい時間を過ごすということを意識してください!クラフトビールはビール鑑定家のためのものではないですから、味に神経質にならず、できるだけ沢山のビールにトライして気に入ったものを見つけてください。』

Chizuko MIYOSHI (三好 ちづ子)

Chief Brewer making “Kyoto Machiya Beer” at the Japanese Nihonshu maker Kinshimasamune Co. Also co organizer of the Craft Beer Live events.
日本酒メーカーキンシ正宗で京都町家麦酒醸造の工場長ビアマイスター。「Craft Beer Live」のイベントに関わっている。

Note: This article is taken from the first issue of the Gee! Beer freepaper. Click here for the online PDF version. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Gee! Beer No.01

For a while now I've been wanting to make a free paper about Craft Beer in Kansai, and it's finally happened! Click the paper above to read it in full screen!

For the first issue, I decided to feature "Craft Beer Live 2013" which will be held on the 25th and 26th of May, 2013 at Namba Hatch in Osaka. This is the only craft beer event to feature breweries from the Kansai area only; over half of the breweries don't actually join other craft beer events. Supporting ji-beer in the Kansai area is my main reason for doing this, so our ideologies go hand in hand.

Interviews: "But, Why craft beer?" Chizuko MIYOSHI (Kyoto Machiya Beer, Kinshimasamune), Brewery interview: Tomoyo KUTSUNA (Dotonbori Beer)

If anyone sends me a stamped self-addressed envelope, I'll send you a copy for free.(返信用封筒を送ってくださる方、「Gee! Beer」を送付いたします。)

Gee! Beer, Attn: Duncan Brotherton
〒530-0047 Osaka-shi, Kita-ku, Nishitenma 4-1-5,
Wakamatsucho Center Building 2C

Gee! Beer 宛名:ブラザトン・ダンカン
〒530-0047 大阪市北区西天満4-1-5若松町センタービル2C

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

An Interview with Ry Beville from The Japan Beer Times: "Bad Beer"

I do read The Japan Beer Times quite a lot. You can find it around the place at all good ji-beer establishments, it has a wealth of information and it's free. Flipping through, I noticed that they sell t-shirts with the slogan "Bad beer is the enemy."

僕は「The Japan Beer Times」をよく読みます。地ビールを売っているところでだいたい拾えます。豊富な情報があって無料です。繰ってみると「Bad beer is the enemy」(日本穂:美味しくないビールは世の中の敵です)。

While I can't help but agree, I often wondered, what is bad beer exactly? I know happoshu is bad, but I don't think that's what it means... I was convinced that it was something a little deeper than that. I managed to get in contact with the editor in chief of the Japan Beer Times, Ry Beville himself, to find out just what this bad beer is exactly.

もちろん賛成はしますが、「美味しくないビール」ってなんでしょう?発泡酒はもちろんあかんけど、そういう意味じゃないでしょう。それよいもうちょっと深いのではないかと思った。この「Bad Beer」を詳しく調べるため、「The Japan Beer Times」の編集長Ry Bevilleさんと連絡を取りました。

If you just want to scan, I've highlighted thoughts I personally think are great in beer-brown.


Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? (まず、あなた自身について教えてください。)

I’m the founder and president of a very small multimedia outfit called Bright Wave Media, Inc. Traditionally our backbone has been print publishing, but the last few years we’ve been branching into digital media: building websites, digital readers and apps. I have about ten staff employed both full-time and part-time. One of our strongest publications is the Japan Beer Times. This has a very special place in my heart because it combines my personal passion; craft beer, with my professional acumen; publishing.

Bright Wave Mediaという小さなマルチメディアカンパニーを設立・運営しています。もともとは紙媒体を出版していましたが、近年はweb製作やアプリといったデジタルメディアに取り組んでいます。フルタイム、パートタイム合わせて10人ほどのスタッフと働いています。僕たちの主な取組みのひとつがJapan Beer Timesの出版です。これは僕の心の特別な位置を占めていますが、地ビールという僕自身が夢中になれるもの、そして専門である出版事業を組み合わせたものだからです。

I discovered craft beer in Japan in 1997 when I was working at the international exchange center in Fukuoka, which is incidentally where I also started working on printed publications. The Shiroyama Hotel was then based across the street and was making craft beer (they are actually still in business, but in Kagoshima now). Interestingly, Tokuhata Kenji (our current translator for the Japan Beer Times) was once a student of mine when I was teaching part-time at a translation school back in Fukuoka. He later went on to work at a nearby bar called Cotton Fields, which carries hundreds of different kinds of bottled beer. He introduced me to a huge range of flavor, and I think this also paved the way for a better appreciation of craft beer.

僕が地ビールに出会ったのは1997年、福岡のインターナショナルエクスチェンジセンターに勤めていた時。また出版活動も始めたのもその頃です。城山ホテルが通りの向かいにあり、地ビールを作っていました。(彼らは現在、鹿児島で地ビールを作っています。) 興味深いことに、Japan Beer Timesで翻訳を担当するトクハタさんと出会ったのもこの時。同じく福岡にある翻訳学校のパートタイムで教えていた時の生徒が彼だったのです。その後、彼はCotton Fieldsというバーの近くで働いていたのですが、このCotton Fieldsでは数百種類の瓶ビールを扱っており、彼は、様々な種類の味を教えてくれました。こうして僕は地ビールに対する想いを高めていったのです。

I met Bryan Baird, of Baird Beer, around the time he started in 2000 or 2001. That was big too, because I think that marked the first time I got to talk to a brewer intimately about his craft. In 2002, I went back to UC Berkeley for graduate school (in Japanese literature) and just happened to live a few blocks from a great little brewery, Triple Rock. Naturally, my passion for craft beer grew in the San Francisco Bay Area craft beer scene. When I returned to Japan in 2006, I decided to work on my own printed publication; that grew into what is today called “Koe Magazine”. Well, while I was publishing that, owner of the famed bar Popeye in Tokyo, Aoki, said “since you’re already making a bilingual culture magazine, why not make a beer magazine?” I remember I was sitting at the table with several other brewers and we were all just blitzed from pounding pints for a few hours. I slurred, “Sure, if all you guys become my sponsors, I’ll do it.” They did, and that’s how the first Japan Beer Times got started.

2000~2001年頃、Baird BeerのオーナーであるBryan Bairdに出会いました。これも大きなきっかけとなりました。というのは、その時初めて、醸造家と彼の作る地ビールについて親しく話すことができたからです。2002年UCバークレー大学院(日文専攻)に戻りました。住んでいたところの数ブロック先に偶然Triple Rockという小さいけれど素敵な醸造所があったこともあり、サンフランシスコベイアリアの地ビールに対して関心が高まりました。2006年、日本に戻ってからは自分で出版事業を立ち上げようと決めました。それが今の “Koe Magazine” です。この出版に携わった頃、東京でバーPopeyeを経営するのアオキさんの一言、 「君は、せっかくバイリンガルのカルチャー雑誌を作っているんだし、ビールの専門誌も作ってみたら?」で思い出したんです。ある時、醸造家たちと一緒にテーブルについて酔っ払いながらしゃべっていた頃を。「そうだね、もし君たちがスポンサーになってくれるなら、やってみるよ。」 こうしてJapan Beer Timesが生まれたのです。

I remember debuting it at the Real Ale Festival in Tokyo, on Valentine’s Day 2010. It was a huge hit and I realized, “this thing has legs!” In the nearly three years since then, it has grown from 5,000 readers to over 50,000. I think part of the reason I’ve received such loyal support is that I really committed myself to understanding the Japanese craft beer scene. I launched my little company and spent at least a year burning my own savings to travel Japan, meet with brewers and bar owners, and listen to what their concerns and hopes were. I made every effort to attend every craft beer festival out there I made an information table of it all. I think this is really important—brewers, bar owners and other industry people recognized that I wasn’t just in it for the money—I genuinely wanted craft beer to grow in Japan because it’s a lifestyle and philosophy I embrace.

こうして、2010年バレンタインデーに東京で開催されたReal Ale FestivalでJapan Beer Timesを発行しました。これが受けて、「これはいけるぞ。」と感じました。ここ3年ほどで読者は5千人から5万人になりました。熱心な読者がついたのは 僕自身が日本の地ビールへの理解に真摯に努めてきた結果だと思います。自分で会社を立ち上げてから、1年ほどは貯金を崩しながら、 醸造人やバー経営者に会いに日本中を旅し、彼らの悩みや今後の展望に耳を傾けました。また、あらゆるビール関連の祭りに出席し、それを一覧にしました。醸造人、バー経営者、関係者の方々に、お金のためにやっているわけじゃないとわかってもらうことが非常に大切だったのです。日本で地ビールが盛り上がっていくことを心から願っていたのです---なぜならそれがライフスタイルであり僕自身の人生哲学であるから

Q: You seem to use “Bad beer is the enemy” as a bit of a manifesto statement in the Japan Beer Times. I’ve even seen kids shirts! Where did it come from, and what does it mean? (Japan Beer Timesで唱える“Bad beer is the enemy”「悪いビールは敵だ」とはなかなか強い主張ですね。Tシャツにプリントしてあるのを見たことがあります。これはどうやって思いついたのですか。またそれの意図するところは。)

Yes, our various T-shirts have been almost as popular as the magazine, but the phrase was a little problematic in the beginning. It seemed I caused some anxiety among brewers, and more than a few were afraid to meet me. The explanation requires a little history. Craft beer launched in Japan in the mid-90s following deregulation. The vast majority of places that began producing it had an insufficient understanding of beer production, much less beer culture. They were in it for the money; “regional” beer (or ji-beer) would be a marketing ploy.

はい、僕たちの販売するTシャツは雑誌と同じくらい人気があるんです。あのフレーズ、最初はちょっとした問題発言と捉えられてしまい醸造関係者の間で不安の種になっていたようです。何人かは僕に会うことさえ怖がってみたみたいです。これを説明するにはちょっと遡らないといけないのですが。そもそも地ビールが日本で醸造され始めたのが規制緩和による90年代半ば。醸造を始めた業者の中には地ビールの製造や文化について不十分な知識しか持ち合わせていなかった場合も多かったのです。地ビールが、ただその土地特有のビールである “地ビール”としてマーケティング戦略に偏った捉え方をされていました

There was a “boom”, as Japanese media likes to call it, and by the late 90s, there were close to 300 breweries. The problem was, most of them were bad and the public was taking notice. In essence, the “bad” breweries were creating a bad name for the entire industry and even some of the good breweries would suffer for that. The enemy of the craft beer scene then was the “bad” beer. Bad beer is the enemy. You could say this is still true today, but when we launched the magazine and the phrase, the context was a little different.

90年代後半には、メディアが言うところの “ブーム”となりました。300もの醸造業者がひしめきあう中で、問題は悪いビールに消費者が気付き始めたことです。つまり、悪いビールを作る業者が、業界全体のイメージも悪くしてしまい、良いビールを作る業者もそれに苦しむということが起こってしまうのです。地ビール業界の敵、というのはすなわち “悪い”ビールです。これは現在でも通用する言葉です。しかし、僕たちが雑誌を創刊するにあたって、このフレーズを使った背景は少し違います。

From the beginning, it has been my policy not to criticize, despite the phrase. The magazine is here to support the craft beer industry and to provide positive guidance, but it’s more of a phrase of caution to bar tenders. I really think they have an enormous responsibility. They are gatekeepers. If a beer is bad—that is, if it tastes off or spoiled—then don’t serve it. It might be just a bad keg (it happens) and they should protect the brewery and inform them, rather than serving it just to eek out some extra profit.


Or it just might be a bad beer, in which case consumers will probably question the bar owner’s judgment and not come back. Or worse, they will begin saying “Japanese craft beer is really bad” again. I truly understand the plight of most bar owners because I actually ran a bar in Shibuya for a year before moving to Yokohama. The profits aren’t what most people think they are. But still, if a keg goes off—and all kegs have a freshness limit—you should really stop serving it, regardless of how much beer is left. Otherwise, you’re serving bad beer, and that’s the enemy. It’s an enemy to the consumer, the bar, the brewery and the industry.


Q: Could you tell us a bit about what causes breweries to make bad beer? (醸造業者が悪いビールを作ってしまう理由についてはどう考えますか? )

This is a complicated question. You could say that some brewers have insufficient knowledge about brewing and/or insufficiently trained palates to recognize that a beer has off flavors. You could say that a brewery has an infection, which can lead to some really nasty beers. Something else I’m seeing is that as demand for craft increases, brewers are rushing their beers. The beers are young and not ready to serve, or taste sub-par because of some other problem along the production schedule due to the rush.


If a brewery is making money, brewers often do assume that the beer is good enough. That's often not the case; they can make much better beer. Competition is changing those assumptions because as better beer reaches the market, fewer and fewer people will drink the subpar beer. Profits are not a sign of brewing excellence. Brewers shouldn’t assume that they are. And profits based on anything other than excellence are always vulnerable.


For the past few years actually, the number of craft breweries has been dwindling, while the overall production volume has been increasing slightly. Good breweries are taking up the market share of failed breweries.


Q: I’m quite new to the world of Ji-beer, and I really don’t know much about flavours and stuff. How do I know if I’m drinking bad beer, or good beer for that matter?(私はまだ地ビール初心者で、味やのについてもわからないことが多いのですが、自分の飲んでいる地ビールがいいか悪いかはどうやって判断すればいいですか)

As with anything to do with the appreciation of foods and flavors, I think you have to consciously train your palate. How do you know if you are eating good sashimi or bad sashimi? Or even good bread vs. bad bread? At festivals, sometimes drunks come up to me and give me some sharp words about our shirt and our phrase. “Good or bad is just a matter of taste. There are no bad beers,” they say. I completely disagree. There are bad beers. If you train your palate just a little, you can better appreciate the good beers that have complexity and a wonderful range of balanced flavors.


It might help to read! There are plenty of online sources—as well as books in Japanese and English—that walk you through how to properly drink and judge a beer. The aroma is a good place to start, and will often tell you if the rest of the beer is good or bad. How is the body? Is it watery? Bold? Creamy? How is the aftertaste? These are just a few places to start. For those that really want to go deep, there are sensory training courses offered in Japan, and some really great ones offered in the U.S. and Europe.


But to keep things simple, you know you are drinking a good beer when all the flavors seem well balanced. You’re drinking a bad beer when something intrudes offensively on the other flavors.


Q: Any advice on what I should do if I come across a bad beer? (もし運悪く悪いビールを飲むはめになったときのアドバイスをお願いします。)

I don’t have any kind of blanket advice. It really depends on the situation you’re in. Personally, I can generally tell if it is an infected keg line (meaning it’s the bar’s fault) or a poorly brewed beer (the brewery’s fault). If I have a good relationship with the bar or restaurant owner, I might let them know. With a brewery, I won’t. As a consumer, I just won’t buy it again. Again, I don’t think it’s my role to criticize bad beers publicly, either in my magazine or on my Twitter feed, for example. I’ll try to promote all the good beers and I think in the end consumers and market forces will shake out the bad beers.


Q: I interviewed Ai Tani from “Craft Beer Base” in Osaka recently, and she said that what the Ji-beer scene in Japan needs is not just more Ji-beer bars, but an increase in the amount of people who enjoy Ji-beer in their normal lifestyle. Your thoughts? (先日、大阪のCraft Beer Baseでタニアイさんにお話しを聞くことができました。地ビールを楽しめるバーよりも、地ビールを日常で愛する人が増えることが大切と言っていたのですが、それについて考えは?)

In a way, I think she is right; there is a real lack of resources to educate people, and so we’ve been trying very hard to fill an educational role in our magazine. And there are very few craft brew gurus whose true aim is not getting personal attention but acting as selfless missionaries for craft beer. I’d really like to see more women like Ai Tani—young, attractive, charismatic, well-informed—holding seminars to try to bring more young women into the fold. That’s a very important and promising demographic. I think that if more craft beer-conscious people like Ai Tani emerge and take an active role in exciting people about craft beer, then we will really see a difference.


In America, in cities like San Francisco or San Diego, craft beer is served almost everywhere you go. It has become so ubiquitous that people take it for granted that they will have multiple options for beer. Currently, if you go into some restaurant in Japan, I think you are generally surprised if you find craft beer. I think in another four or five years, it will be fairly common to find at least one craft beer from one of the bigger producers like Coedo or Yona Yona available. Already, in places like Kyoto, you can find noodle shops and yakitori joints serving a selection or two because the owners recognize that, “hey, this is great beer, and I want to serve great beer with my great food.” That revolution is just a few years away.

サンディエゴやサンフランシスコのようなアメリカの都市では地ビールはどこででも飲むことができます。地ビールは置いていて当たり前、常に数種類から選べますね。日本ではレストランに行って、地ビールが置いてあったら驚くような状況ですよね。今後4、5年後には Coedo(コエドビール: 埼玉の地ビールメーカー)やyona yona(長野の地ビールメーカー:ヤッホーブルーイング)のような有名業者の地ビールを見かける機会がもっと増えるといいですね。京都なんかはすでにやきとり屋や麺屋で少なくとも2種類くらい地ビールが置いてあって店主が「この地ビールおすすめですよ。うちの料理に本当によく合うんです。」って勧めてくれるところがあります。こんな場所が数年後もっと増えてほしいです。

Ry Beville
“Drink better, drink craft”

 (Translated by Sophie Umeda)