Back in August, our Patreons were asked about new sections that they might like to see, and a news roundup section was suggested. Thinking that beer news, while fun, is not always reported on, BeerTengoku is going to do a roundup of stories, that have caught our attention over the last month or so, that may have been missed. Each news section is going to feature five different stories, either national or local, that piqued our interest, and may pique yours.
International Beer Cup Results
A controversial competition in the best of years, the International Beer Cup was held back in September. Hosted by Japan’s Craft Beer Association, the International Beer Cup is Japan’s largest international beer competition and is usually held in conjunction with the BeerFes Yokohama Event. This year’s event saw over 800 beers judged from across the globe, with surprising results.
While the method of judging beers is publicly available, the results always provide a talking point, with this year being no exception. Ise Kadoya picked up two awards for the pale ale – with one being gold for the canned version, and another for the bottled version, but this time a bronze. Guess it goes to show that cans are better than bottles for your beer.
The whole list of winners can be found here. We’re not bitter because we didn’t get invited, but with some very strange results in the competition, it’s hard to see how the discussion aspect of the competition affects the results in a positive manner. Having had many of the beers on the winners list, I was left scratching my head at a lot of the results.
An Unusual Pairing For Beer
Using local produce isn’t anything new in Japan. The original requirements for beer in Japan to be classified as ji-beer, or local beer, meant using some local produce in some manner, be it grains, hops, or unusual adjuncts? Fish flakes anyone? How about some black garlic too? So with this story about a brewery using local pears in the beer didn’t raise too many eyebrows. However, it wasn’t a brewery that organised this, but a group of volunteers in Kakegawa coming together to brew a limited run of 1600 bottles, almost 5kl with students from the Prefectural Norin Environmental College (Iwata City) were also involved in bottle design and harvesting work.
Link to story: Yahoo Japan (Japanese)
Women And Beer
For those history buffs among the readers, it is well known that there has been a long connection with women and brewing beer. Beer has been around for 7,000 years, with the majority of that time being dominated by women with them brewing for ceremonial purposes and also for pleasure. It wasn’t until the late middle ages that women began to be exiled due to the Reformation began. Ever wonder why witches were seen with cauldrons? The oft seen image has been changed over time, with the original being of female brewers using the big, black cauldrons, and the magic of yeast to make alcoholic beverages.
Japan isn’t great with gendered roles to say the least, with a large disparity among the workforce across all age groups and industries. So it was with great interest that Futako Brewery, run by ICHIHARA Naoko was of focus on Yahoo, talking about the industry and how she came to settle, and build a brewery, in Futakomatagawa.
Link to story: Yahoo Japan (Japanese)
Can It Grow?
We’re not stalking Ise Kadoya – we promise! But if your beer wins out in a can, than over the bottled form, it’s time to take notice. Throughout September, we began to notice cans of Ise Kadoya popping up over JR New Days convenience kiosks across Kanto. Hang on? Ise Kadoya have been bottling their beers since time immemorial – what was going on?
It seems that like other breweries in Japan, and around the world, Ise Kadoya have finally realised that cans are better storage vessels for beer, than for bottles.and opened up a canning line at their main brewery in Mie. The line of canned beers hasn’t reached across the whole range, but you can find their pale ale, the Hime White, and of course, a version of a hazy IPA on sale, from 345 yen., with tax being added.
It’s going to be good to see some more variety of beers on the shelf in local stores, especially with cans being the popular selling form for supermarkets and convenience stores alike. Let’s hope that over time, smaller breweries that currently can, such as TDM 1874, Black Tide, and Be Easy Brewing, among others, are able to get their beers into local convenience stores and open up people’s palates.
Fresh Hops Inbound
It’s hop picking time across the globe and Japan has been playing catch up with other places in trying to improve the local hop growing scene – something that local craft beer fans are rather mixed about. Despite being on roughly the same lines of latitude as Yakima Valley, Japan has long lingered in the doldrums when it comes to locally grown hops due to the climate being rather unsuited.
That hasn’t stopped local growers trying to grow hops in Japan, with Centennial and Citra being two hops of note to be successfully grown – though how you measure success may vary. Many drinkers have heard of Sorachi Ace – a personal dislike of mine – though other local hops includes Shinshuwase and Ibuki, though the latter is owned by Kirin.
A local hop association has sprung up to help promote locally grown hops, with the Japanese government also trying to improve the local hop scene by attempting to reduce imports. How successful it will be will depend on growing hops suited to the Japanese climate.