There seems to be a beer festival of some kind happening every weekend in Japan, be it an Oktoberfest, a Belgian beer festival or a temple tasting fair. BeerFes Yokohama is one of the perennially popular events, featuring most of the big craft beer manufacturers in Japan and introducing some exciting newcomers. A three-day event held at Osanbashi pier in Kannai, this year’s outing brought over two hundred beers from more than ninety breweries. BeerTengoku went to experience this unstoppable force in the world of Japanese craft beer.
2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Japanese Craft Beer Association and the first nine hundred attendees received a special commemorative aroma glass. The glass was supposed to enhance the tasting experience; however, it didn’t seem as if many people were savouring their beer. BeerFes Yokohama is no different to other beer festival. After a couple of drinks, people looked far happier drinking than smelling the beer. Who are we trying to kid? Drinking is the best part of beer.
Osanbashi pier is not your usual place to hold a beer event. The hall is located right at the back of the pier and depending on the weather, can get extremely dark. With BeerFes Yokohama being held in September, the weather varies from clear blue skies that light up the room, or early typhoon rains plunging the event into darkness. On murkier days, Osanbashi pier is a dark, foreboding place that makes it difficult to see where you are or where you are going. The weather gods had clearly been nice on the day BeerTengoku went, fortunately. The light streamed in through the big bay windows overlooking Yokohama Bay. On top of this, the outside deck rapidly filled up with couples and groups of punters enjoying the fine weather and beers.
BeerFes Yokohama is a straightforward event (unlike the Oofuna Beer Festival‘s buy-a-ticket-to-buy-tickets-to-buy-beer madness). Tickets cost ¥4,600 in advance or ¥5,000 on the day. Included in the price was the beer tasting glass and a four-hour nomihodai. You walk around going to different stalls, trying different beers that came in 50 ml sizes, or 25 ml for the stronger beers, rinse the glass and repeat until you fall over or finish all 200 or so beers. BeerFes Yokohama also provides a handy booklet with boxes to check so in your drunken stupor (which will happen) you have a handy reminder of what beers you have tried. The booklet also lists the special limited edition beers that have been produced for BeerFes Yokohama ensuring that you can wait in line for the chance to try that special IPA that may or may not have already run out.