Street drankin’

It being a public holiday and absolutely gorgeous weather yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity by once again ripping off Good Beer and Country Boys and finding myself a street corner to settle down for some roadside drinking.

Had to retire the Joker cell phone strap. His mouth's been rubbed off...

Had to retire the Joker cell phone strap. His mouth has all but rubbed off...

This being a special occasion (you can tell I don’t get out much), I opted to hit the neighborhood import shop and hunker down with some specialty craft brews. One of these was the Karuizawa Kogen Seasonal 2009 ESB you see pictured there to the right, and it was fantastic.

Smooth, full-bodied, hoppy and sweet, this is one beer that I knocked back in no time flat, and found to be far superior to any of the other brews I imbided that afternoon. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that this is hands-down the best canned beer I’ve had in Japan. If you run across this bad boy, do yourself a favor and get it. At 348 yen a pop it’s a little pricey, but well worth the extra dough, especially when you consider that this is a limited-time release. Believe me when I say I’ll be stocking up on more this weekend.

And so, I leave you with a couple pics of my afternoon on the street corner, listening to my iPod and getting more than a few stares from curious passers-by.

p/s – Thank you WordPress for making me stagger these pics because I apparently can’t post two on the same line without the code freaking the hell out. Idiot software.

The beer in question

The beer in question


and the choice locale in which it was imbibed.

and the choice locale in which it was imbibed.

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16 Responses

  1. Nicely done!!!!!!

  2. Good to see the strap honored before retirement :)

  3. Hah, that is why I went to the trouble of programming my own blog software. Any nonsense like that and I just whip out my faithful editor and spray it with carefully structured ASCII.

  4. I take one look at cans like that and think to myself “that looks like it would taste like shit water if I knew what shit water tasted like”… your a braver man than me when it comes to trying something new from the bottle-o…

  5. You should thank wordpress for making your guns look a decent size too mate … either that or someone did some bicep curls before the photo. ;>)

  6. you have some nice arms…..

    sorry, what was this post about?

  7. OMG, beer. The can looked like a chuhai from the collors, but ESB?! Nice. I guess craft brews have come a little way in the last few years, very nice to hear.

    And, Karuizawa! I used to go there all the time! I wonder where that brewery is!

  8. Incredible hulk arms hehe.

    I don’t drink outside much, but when I do, I normally find myself drinking outside of a konbini :P

  9. The arms are simply swollen with beer. Real biceps belong to Hugh Jackman. And Kurt Russell.

    @Jeshii, the craft scene has really come along since I first lived here 10 years ago. And the ESB pictured is incredible.

    @Prometheus, haven’t done the drinking-outside-the-konbini thing myself in a while. Usually I’m getting mine to have on the train…

  10. “…hands-down the best canned beer I’ve had in Japan.”

    Well, with such an endorsement… I almost feel obliged to try it now.

  11. Been reading your blog for a few months now, especially like your beer recommendations. Currently my can of choice down here in Kyushu is Asahi Cool Draft, not bad considering the horsepiss (that is what I genuinely thought happoshu was called when I first came here) price. So can I get this brew at a combini? Sometimes I have noticed the 7-11 round the corner does craft brews / real ales whatever you want to call em.

  12. @Oitajin, always happy to hear I have a regular reader, so thanks very much.

    I’ve only seen the beer in question at my corner import store, and haven’t seen it at any combini. The combinis in my area almost never carry craft brew, but every once in a while they’ll get a limited run of something surprising.

    In terms of horsepiss, the only piss I regularly, voluntarily bought was Asahi Ginger Draft. A weird brew that didn’t quite know what it wanted to be, but if drunk cold and fast enough, it was sorta nice.

  13. Glad u liked it, Jon.
    The new Yaho is on sale in the Toyku department store in Shibuya, under the station. They have a good selection of booze there. It may also be on sale in some other Tokyu stores. Just keep on looking for it, guys!
    Tried the American ESB a few months back and thought it was disgusting, but to be honest it tasted like something was wrong and it could have been just a dodgy can. It suprised me (not just the ‘American ESB’ style), as Karuizawa Kogen usually make excellent beers and I’ve never been so dissapointed with one of their seasonals.
    Your post gives me more confidence that it was somehow a dodgy can, or caught me on a bad day (had a bit of a cold). I’ll give it another shot!
    Oitajin: drink enough of the big 4 crap and you may well end up feeling like shit in the morning. I’d say give the craft stuff a go and see what you think. It’s more expensive but can be far, far more enjoyable to drink. Yonayona is around 260 a can (a nice American pale ale). Ginga Kogen wheat beer (blue can) also 240-260yen and a nice enough wheat beer. Those boys are more easily found.

  14. Chuwy, I’ve had the ESB on two occasions since then and have loved it just as much as the day of street drankin’, so it could be your experience was because of a bad batch, your cold, or just personal taste. Me, I loved it even more than the Red Hook ESB I bought just to compare, which was surprising because I love me some Red Hook.

    As for Ginga Kogen, Chuwy, have you had it in the bottle? Friggin’ ambrosia compared to the canned version, which is already pretty tasty. The bottled version is pretty scarce, at least in my experience, compared to Ginga canned, however.

  15. Yes, the bottle is better but there are two wheat beers made by Ginga Kogen. a wheat ber or komugi beer (as you know, komugi is wheat) and the weissen.
    I’m not 100% sure but I think I had the weissen in the bottle and it was far better than the weissen from the can. I can’t rememebr having the wheat beer from teh bottle.
    i think the bottle has a silver label on a blue bottle?
    I’m get
    Here, the guys at Ginga Kogen (2nd biggest craft brewery in Japan, behind Gotenba Kogen, I believe and a bit bigger than Yaho) have tried to revamp their website by adding in some weirdly translated English. I think it’s because they are exporting abroad. Their wheat beers are ok and their stout is not to bad but the pale ale is just to be avoided. It’s complete shite. Their 2 beers are quite similar, so it can be confusing as to which one you have just drank! Ginga Kogen really are a dodgy company – they once held a press conference featuring their head brewer. Their head brewer turned out to be an agency hired actor, pretending to be the brewer! It only came to light when somebody at the press conference knew the head brewer & realised the actor wasn’t him! Apprently the head brewer wasn’t there and had no idea what had happened. I think he later resigned. Really stupid people in charge there. But some of their beer is ok. They used to have a few small beer halls in Tokyo, selling some good beer, until they went bust. They are now up and running again but I just don’t like the company that much. a bunch of suits. I still drink their beer. Love weissen! Reccommend Fujisakura, near Mt.Fuji and Hiroshima’s Becken weissen as possibly the best in Japan. The Fujisakura will be on tap in the Hibiya Park Oktoberfest, starting Friday.
    Phew! Long comment.
    Good blog, dude.
    Hope Mr.Balls doesn’t pop round to your cubicle and greet you by shaking hands.
    You kinda know where his have been.

  16. Oktoberfest starting on Friday? Excellent.

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