Monthly Archives: March 2014

Kirin-City (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo)

Kirin-City is located just a few steps from my office in Shibuya. It’s my first day at work in Japan, and I’m on lunch break, so I decide to check it out:

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The United States only gets one kind of beer produced by Kirin, the “standard” Kirin, which is actually brewed in an Anheuser-Busch facility in Los Angeles.

I am surprised and pleased to discover that Kirin produces other styles of beer for the Japanese market to enjoy. Here’s the menu at Kirin-City:

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In addition to their standard lager offering this restaurant features Brau Meister, Half & Half, and Ichibanshibori Stout. I’m not sure what style Brau Meister is, but I’m guessing a German lager. Half & Half is half stout, half lager, so it says. It’s unclear if this is achieved by blending two beers when pouring, or if this is simply how they describe the style.

If this was the end of my day I’d be trying them all. However, since it’s only lunch, I’m picking the Ichibanshibori Stout.

The bartender carefully manages the pour in order to create the head effect, using a process that involves several pours and letting the beer sit between each pour. A few minutes later my beer arrives:

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The head has a nice chocolate flavor and it’s a very drinkable stout. It is quite good, though certainly does not rank among my favorites. I prefer stouts to be bitter, with a heavier viscous body, and high ABV. The Ichibanshibori isn’t that – it’s much lighter bodied and session-able.

Time for food. While not the ideal pairing, I order a curry plate for lunch, which is very good:

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I want to return to Kirin-City to try the Brau Meister and Half & Half. For now, though, it’s time to return to work.

Let’s take a peek at the bar before leaving. This is a few from the front of the restaurant, looking in. Notice the white vent on the ceiling near the top of the photo. That’s a sign that smoking is allowed here, which is still the case in many restaurants and bars in Japan.

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Here are the taps. Fancy-looking! Another Ichibanshibori is resting between pours.

Note the round paper adornments on wooden posts in the previous photo and the bottom-right corner of this photo. Those paper circles are placed around the stem, just above the base, of beer glasses when they are served. There is a different decoration for each beer style. I think this is a “Kirin-City thing” and not a “Japanese craft beer thing.”

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That’s all for this visit to Kirin-City! While not exactly a craft beer place, it does offer some unique styles of Kirin beer.

Until next time, kampai!

General Status Update: Hiatus, Travel, Writing

Brewing is currently on hiatus while I am on an epic nomadic journey across the world. So far I’ve lived in Portland and Seattle, each for one month, and in a week I move to Tokyo.

Since I can’t brew in my own facility while living this lifestyle, the brewhouse is packed up and stored in Los Angeles. But even though I’m not making beer, the brewery is far from dead. So, what’s going on the meantime, you ask? Let’s get into it!

First and foremost, I’m working on the business plan. This document is essential for making the transition from hobby to business. It will articulate out the trajectory of the brewery for roughly the next three years.

I’m also making connections with brewers and acquiring new fans and supporters of Bushido along the way. I’ve been getting acquainted with the beer scenes in Portland and Seattle so that I can gauge the viability and interest in setting up Bushido Brewery in one of those cities.

And let’s not forget to mention that I’m drinking a lot of beer! I’ve had some really excellent beer (and sake!) in Portland and Seattle, and I am completely stoked to hit the craft scene in Tokyo. My list of craft beer bars to explore there is already over two dozen and continues to grow! And that’s just beer – I haven’t even gotten to making my list of sake bars to visit yet.

In the coming months I will update the website and this blog will become more active. I intend to share what I’m tasting and learning as I travel and to provide more insight into what kind of business Bushido Brewery is evolving.

I have a short backlog of sharing to do from my time in Portland and Seattle and I’ll try to get that out ASAP so we can jump into Japanese beer together. Here we go!