I love getting souvenirs. When I was little and my parents went out somewhere without me I’d always shout “Buy me a present!”. The joke persists in my family to this day, with the outings being to the kitchen and the ‘presents’ being booze from the fridge.
If you live in Japan you know that buying souvenirs is a huge part of going on holiday. Hotels – and many other tourist destinations – will have souvenir shops specially geared towards the obligation you have to give everyone in your department a cookie from Yamaguchi or wherever. They’re packed up in neat little boxes of 30 or so, and you can have the stack of snacks delivered to your home so you don’t have to lug them back with you. Beats filling half your suitcase with Jaffa Cakes for undeserving students.
Ji-beer (the old word for craft beer in Japan, new readers) was one such souvenir back in the boom of 1994. It was a unique way to show off local ingredients, and a microbrewery system can be managed by just a handful of people (or two or even one person, as we’ve seen from Brimmer and Yorocco respectively).
Now, as even a child can tell you, the bubble burst on the first craft beer boom as quality took a nosedive and people lost interest. To me this is interesting, as it doesn’t seem like a very common occurrence in Japan. In my mind seemingly bound-to-fail businesses stay open because either consumers have a begrudging sense of brand loyalty, the owners themselves pump colossal amounts of money into them to keep them afloat, or they’re a money laundering front for the Yakuza. Things like beer just don’t seem to fall out of favour in that way. Do they?
Case in point is today’s beer (a souvenir, naturally) whose full title is “Yatsugatake Touchdown Frontier Pilsner”. Jesus. Touchdown Frontier? Why not add in “Bald Eagle Manifest Destiny” while you’re at it? Yatsugatake is halfway between Karuizawa in the north and Kofu in the south, in central Kanto. Bit of a nowhere land, it seems. Anyway, I’ve got another one of their beers to review, so I’ll save my rant on the brewery itself for another time. On with the beer!
Yatsugatake Touchdown Pilsner Aroma and Taste
Yatsugatake Touchdown Pilsner pours out with very little head that quickly made itself scarce when it saw me. Are pilsners supposed to be this cloudy? It has a wheaty, light nose; kind of estery, like a Weiss. Tasting it, it’s not bitter at all- more of a European style pilsner then? There’s hardly any aftertaste to speak of, too.
Now, we all know that Pilsners and lagers are underappreciated and underrepresented in the craft beer scene because it’s that precise style that we’re trying to avoid when we drink craft beer instead of our billionth can of Asahi Super Dry (pink cherry blossom can FTW). This has the effect of us not knowing a well-crafted light beer when we drink one- and by god, there are some great ones out there.
Touchdown Pilsner isn’t terrible, but it seems like not much effort was put into making it. Pilsners aren’t easy to make, and the biggest problem seems to be getting them to be clear instead of cloudy. Yatsugatake Touchdown Pilsner is not only cloudy, it tastes like a completely different style of beer.
Yatsugatake Touchdown Pilsner The Bottom Line
I wouldn’t tell you to avoid this beer, but I would say “Ignore”. You’re extremely unlikely to see this in the wild, and the brewery is sandwiched between Yo-Ho Brewing in the north and Outsider Brewing in the south. You know what to do.
Where to Buy Yatsugatake Touchdown Pilsner
Yatsugatake Touchdown Pilsner can be bought online at the following places: