Tuesday 8 December 2020

Ohayo White Ale - Peccary Beer.

Name: Ohayo White Ale

Brewery: Peccary Beer, Ina machi.

Style: White Ale

Purchased at: Bell Shine Supermarket

Price: ¥540

Taste: 10/10

Alcohol Level: 5%

Music: Haunt - Mindfreeze
Snack: Home made carbonara.

Website: http://www.peccarybeer.com/

I found this beer at a super market near my house. Compared with Northern Nagano, craft beer has been more difficult to come by around these parts. There are less breweries, and I guess it is more remote than the places around Nagano City. Some supermarkets do have local craft beer though and I am always happy to support this.

 This beer, the Ohayo White Ale by Peccary Beer in Ina City, caught my eye because of the pig on the label. I looked at the brewery’s website and it appears a ‘Peccary’ is a breed of pig. The different beers they brew all have a unique pig assigned to them with a different name. This beer though has a rooster on it, I guess because it is a ‘ohayo’, aka ‘good morning’ beer. I plan on trying the other pig beers. According to the website, the brewer grows a lot of the ingredients for his beer on his farm. This explains the amazing fresh taste and beautiful amber colour of this beer.

 The beer itself was delicious. A little bit spicy, and a little bit fruity, but not overly sweet which I have come to hate in white beers. The colour looked beautiful in the glass. A little bit darker, I think, than some other white beers, especially ones produced by bigger breweries.

 Two things I am sure that make crafting beer in Japan an uphill battle is the price and the fact that it is a pain in the ass to throw away glass bottles. This beer was about \540 yen I believe, a lot higher that the \200ish yen for a 500ml tallboy. I drank this beer a few weeks ago, but I still have the empty bottle, along with many others, in my house because we can only get rid of them once a month, at about 8am on a Sunday morning mind you which is a little too easy to miss if you have been working on building your glass bottle collection the night before.

However, I cannot argue with the taste and overall better feeling I get when drinking a beer like this. Especially one brewed so close to my house. When I drank this beer I was reminded why I like craft beer. The delicious taste and beautiful colour made for a great experience.

With this beer I cooked Carbonara pasta. I followed a ‘traditional’ recipe from the Jamie Oliver website. It tasted great, especially with this beer. But I do miss the shitty creamy one from a pizza shop in my town in Australia. But a fine beer like this calls for a fine meal to go with it. Since this pasta probably cost around $20 after I bought all the bloody ingredients, I would call that fine enough.

Sunday 11 October 2020

Minami Shinsyu Beer - 2612 Chuo Alps Senjojiki


Name: 2612 Chuo Alps Senjojiki

Brewery: Minami Shinshu Beer

Style: Amber Ale

Purchased at: Komagane Ropeway Giftshop.

Price: ¥500

Taste: 9/10

Alcohol Level: 5%

Music: Summoning - Oathbound. 
Snack: Homemade Pizza. Earlier that day I ate Tonkatsu.

Website: http://ms-beer.co.jp/

Experience: A goal of mine in returning to Nagano was to spend more time in the Alps. During my last time here I did some climbing and snowboarding in the Northern Alps. Now I live closer to the central and southern alps. On this day I rode my bike to the train station, caught the train to Komagane station, caught a bus up to the ropeway and then took the ropeway to the Senjojiki Cirque. I was nervous the whole way that the bus or ropeway would be cancelled because of corona. Access to the Southern Alps has been made really difficult because a lot of buses have been totally stopped for the year. Luckily the bus was running and I was the only person to catch it from the station. There's a carpark closer to the actual road up the mountains and the bus completely filled up then. Before this I was thinking about going back up the ropeway in autumn since it is meant to be beautiful. Seeing how packed the bus was on this day, a normal summer weekday with a little bit of rain, I'm guessing it would be absolute hell in autumn so I'm rethinking that.

Stepping out of the ropeway station and seeing the Senjojiki Cirque is absolutely unreal. Definitely a moment I will remember forever. I was instantly struck with a glad feeling for returning to Nagano. The climb to the mountain tops was steep at the beginning, but once you make it past the first hour of steepness it gets easier. The views the whole way are amazing and gave me enough energy to keep going. It was a bit cloudy that day, so the views came and went as the clouds rolled through. The whole time I had the feeling of being in a high, remote place, which I don't always get when hiking. That feeling, like going out too far at the beach, is a little bit scary but exciting too. Once I made it to the top of the mountain the thunder and lightening started. No one else seemed too bothered, and I've read a lot of stories over the years of people surviving lightening strikes, so I didn't worry either.

I made it back to the ropeway station, a few minutes after I got back inside it began to rain like it had been holding it in after too many beers during the support band and there was finally a break. The lightening got really close too, so close that the windows were shaking, it felt like the building shook a bit too. The cable car was stopped for a while, so I had some beers and lunch. After that I bought the beer which is the subject of this review.

When I drank this beer I was glad to finally be home. I made a BBQ Chicken pizza in the pizza oven I bought off the internet. I didn't expect it to last more than a few times or I'd use it once and then never want to make pizza again, but I can gladly say I have made pizza many times now, each time getting a bit better.

Amber Ale is my favourite style of beer. I've never had a bad one, I love the colour and I love how it's associated with Autumn. The design of the bottle didn't reflect autumn at all, but the colour of the beer and the flavour did. The beer is names 2612 because, I'm pretty sure, the ropeway station where they sell this beer is 2612 metres above sea level. I'm fairly sure this beer is the same as Minami Shinshu Beer's regular Amber Ale, which I have had before and loved. I'd love to drink this beer a lot, but at 500 yen a bottle it's too expensive. I can have one or two special beers like this, and then drink the cheap stuff. This beer is so far away from cheap beer that switching between the two makes me appreciate it more. It also makes me miss making my own beer back in Australia.

While hiking I was listening Summoning - Oathbound. An old favourite that always makes me think of and appreciate mountains, forests and great views. Especially the track Might and Glory was perfect for walking at the of the mountains.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Karuizawa Kogen Beer - 2020 Session Ale

Name: 2020 Session IPA

Brewery: Karuizawa Kogen Beer

Style: IPA

Purchased at: Aeon.

Price: ¥350

Taste: 8/10

Alcohol Level: 4.5%

Music: Iron Griffin - Curse of the Sky. 
Snack: Quesadillas. Earlier in the day I ate some fried oysters.

I have returned to the mountains of Nagano. The feeling of walking into a supermarket and seeing the shelves lined with Kirin, Asahi and Yebisu brought a tear to my eye, let me tell you. For the first few weeks I drank these beers, and some old favourite like the Yona Yona Ale. As time passed I decided to start exploring Nagano’s craft beers again. The beer I chose to restart my Nagano life was the 2020 Karuizawa Session Ale.

This beer reminded me of other IPAs I’ve had in Japan, in that it didn’t taste like they injected pure hops extract into this beer like so many others I’ve tried in Australia. The IPA taste is more subtle, but undeniably there. Refreshing and fruity are words that definitely come to mind. Perfect with dark chocolate or, as I had, quesadillas.

In the time between now and my last review some things have changed, some things have remained the same. I still love quesadillas and jambalaya, but I’m adding more foods to the short list of things I cook. I still listen to heavy metal, there have been a lot of great releases and a lot of older albums I have discovered.


While drinking this beer I was listening to Iron Griffin – Curse of the Sky. Incredible, somewhat lo-fi heavy metal with amazing vocals and riffs. It’s not a loud album, and may take a few listens to get into, but if you like Demon Bitch, any bands playing that throwback heavy metal style, give them a listen. They aren’t at all psychedelic or overly rocky,


While back in Australia I worked on making my own beer and slow cooking meats. Both of these will be difficult to do in Japan. It’s illegal to brew your own beer here, and gas ovens are not at all common. I do want to get into smoking and slow cooking meats in a weber style bbq, but I live in an apartment at the moment. I’ll sort it out.


Thursday 10 May 2018

House IPA - Shiga Kogen Brewery.

Name: House IPA

Brewery: Shiga Kogen Brewery.

Style: IPA.

Purchased at: Aeon Supermarket.

Price: ¥400

Taste: 10/10

Alcohol Level: 6%

Music: Still listening to Demon Bitch - Hellfriends.

Snack: I had some chicken with this sauce. I purchased this sauce at the Shiga Kogen Taphouse, so I thought I should enjoy the sauce with their beer.

Website: http://www.tamamura-honten.co.jp/

I have been delaying the review of these Shiga Kogen beers because they are easy to find where I live. I am quickly running out of time here in Japan though, so I thought I had better start. There are at least 10 of these that I need to get through. I have 4 more in my fridge, all different styles, and there are more to collect yet.

To put it simply, I loved this beer. It was deliciously hoppy and refreshing. There was not a lot of foam. The colour was a deep brown which I think looks so delicious. As you can see I have a Shiga Kogen glass as well, I would have liked it if the beer filled the entire glass I have to say. The Shiga Kogen brewery grows their own materials, so I am lead to believe. And I can only imagine they source their water from the icy peaks of the Shiga Kogen mountain range which rises above their brewery. This image in mind makes me enjoy this beer so much.

These beers can be found at the Nagano Train Station and Harashin super markets most easily. Occasionally I see them in convenience stores, but that has always been a rare event. Having a glass bottle to get rid of in Japan is perhaps one of the most inconvenient things imaginable, thanks to the lack of public bins.  There is one day a month where I can dispose of glass bottles from my apartment. Already this month I have quite a few beer and wine bottles. By the time I review all of them I am going to have a massive collection of glass.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Shiga Kogen Brewery - Yama Bushi, Champagne looking bottle.

Name:Yama Bushi.

Brewery: Shiga Kogen Brewery.

Style: Inspired by Belgian White.

Purchased at: Aeon Supermarket.

Price: ¥1100

Taste: 9.5/10

Alcohol Level: 6%

Music: I absolutely can't get enough of Demon Bitch - Hellfriends.

Snack: Got some Dill Pickle flavoured chips from a Seiyu. Jeez they were good. Didn't get a chance to take a picture because I ate them all in the car on the drive home.

Website: http://www.tamamura-honten.co.jp/


Last Friday I decided to celebrate being alive with this incredibly fancy looking beer from the Shiga Kogen Brewery. I haven't reviewed any of their beers yet because I am saving them, since they are so readily available here, but I should really just get around to doing it.

As you can see this beer came in a champagne bottle. The cap was hard to get off, for some reason my bottle opener kept slipping. Once I finally got the damn thing opened, boy was the beer delicious. I think it's a Belgian White beer. The back label says it is inspired by Belgian beer. This beer really reminded me of the taste of some beers I had at the Snow Monkey Beer Festival. Since this is one of the breweries that helped run the event, maybe I tried it already without realising it. It was light, fizzy and fruity, almost like a soft drink. Completely delicious and refreshing.

The beer's name is Yama Bushi. I looked this up in a dictionary and it said it meant ''Mountain Priest''. Not 100% sure that is correct. Google translate also said ''hare'' and ''slut'' at one point so who the heck knows. There is a picture of a goblin on the label, so I reckon it has something to do with that. It might be a local sort of name or something. It also says on the label that it was made from home grown rice and hops. I got the impression that this brewery was a lot bigger than it actually appears to be, perhaps they just have good distribution around Nagano. Now that I think about it I haven't really seen any of their beers outside of Nagano.

The next day I decided it was time to check out the brewery itself, the Shiga Kogen Brewery that is. To my disapointment, it turned out to be pretty small and I don't think they offered tours. This brewery spawned out of a much older sake brewery that has been around for a few hundred years. Sake seems to be waning in popularity amongst younger people (can't blame them as most of it tastes like nail polish remover AND it's only about 17% ABV so you can't even argue it's worth skulling just to get the job done) it seems like they decided to add beer to their portfolio. They literally make about 12 different types of beer and I cannot begin to imagine how they manage to brew it all in their small brewery. I'll do some more investigating in the near future.

If you are in the area during winter, apparently they have a tap room bar. It shut for the season like last week so I didn't manage to go there. But many bars in town have this beer on tap. Look for the distinctive dragon logo! And all their beers come in bottles, which is somewhat unusual in Japan. I'll have more reviews from this brewery in the near future. 

Thursday 5 April 2018

OH! LA! HO! Brewing - Kolsch, Can.

Name: OH! LA! HO! Kolsch

Brewery: Oh La Ho! Brewing

Style: Kolsch

Purchased at: Seiyu.

Price: ¥350

Taste: 9/10

Alcohol Level: 5%

Music: Still listening to Visigoth album, “Conqueror’s Oath.”

Snack: Still eating the Piri Piri chicken.

Experience: Had the OH! LA! HO! Pale Ale a minute ago, now on to the Kolsch. This one was smooth as milk my man. Very tasty. I couldn’t drink more than one or two of the Pale Ales, but I can see drinking many of these and it being good. I don't know what a Kolsch is, I expected the beer to be dark based off the name. I'll have to research it.

I love the can designs. I mentioned the orange can in the last interview, this one is blue. These cans really stand out, they look pretty simple but I like that. Some cans around here have scribbles and stuff all over them, they look terrible, like they were designed by a two year old.

I think this might be the last OH LA HO beer I had to try. I’ll keep a look out, and they do release new ones now and then. But this might be the last of their main ones.

OH LA HO! Brewery - Pale Ale, Can.

Name: Pale Ale

Brewery: Oh La Ho! Brewing

Style: Pale Ale

Purchased at: Seiyu.

Price: ¥350

Taste: /10

Alcohol Level: 5%

Music: The new Visigoth album, “Conqueror’s Oath.”

Snack: I bought some Piri Piri seasoning in Australia and cooked some chicken with it. It was mainly spicy, not that tasty, not a fan of that but next time I reckon I’ll use less.

I’m doing my best to try all the OH! LA! HO! beers. So far I can’t say they have any bad ones, they have all been delicious. On this particular night I tried two, the first being the Pale Ale.

OH!LA!HO! have another Pale Ale, the Captain Crow Extra Pale Ale, which I have reviewed before. The regular Pale Ale is definitely easier to drink. They hops flavour is definitely a lot smoother, which I prefer. The taste was pretty typical of what you would expect for a Pale Ale. I used to be a big fan of this style, but recently I go for darker beers instead. I still found this to be very tasty and I’ll definitely be buying it again.

Love the orange colour of the can. My favourite colour has always been orange and I think I worked out why recently. My birthday is in October. In Australia it’s springtime, usually overcast, maybe a little bit green with some warmer days, overall a green, blue or grey sort of feeling. In America however, it’s autumn, lots of orange and warmer colours. Halloween is in October too, which has a very orange feel. I’m guessing when I was younger I’d watch cartoons and other TV shows set in October and associated it with the good feeling of my birthday. I’ve always liked autumn, being cozy and Halloween too, I’m guessing this is all for the same reason.