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.


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.



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.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

OH LA HO! Brewery - Amber Ale, Can.

Name: Amber Ale

Brewery: Oh La Ho! Brewing

Style: Amber Ale

Purchased at: Nagano train station.

Price: ¥350

Taste: 10/10

Alcohol Level: 5%

Music: I was still listening to Aura Noir from the previous review, but at the time of actually writing this I am listening to Summoning’s album, Oathbound.
Summoning – Oathbound.

Snack: Chicken sandwich with japapenos


I drank this beer just after the Thrash Lager in the previous review. When I poured this beer into the glass, jeez I was admiring the colour. A beautiful, deep brown with slightly brown foam on the top. This is my absolute favourite colour for beer, love it when the foam is dark like that. I think it’s because one time a friend of a friend came around to our house with some beer he had made himself. I was like, WTF you can make your own beer??

The taste man. Just perfect. It’s got that slightly sweet and caramel flavour you’d expect from a beer of this colour, but not over the top so you feel sick by the end of it.

I’m gonna go ahead and say this is my favourite beer from Nagano that I’ve tried so far. The Yona Yona pale ale has been dethroned and a new power has risen. Hail, amber ale, king of the bar.

This is the type of beer I imagine them drinking in Lord of the Rings. In fact I am reading lord of the rings at the moment. I just finished the chapter where Aragon and company arrive at Isengard to find Merry and Pippin eating and drinking to their hearts content. When they sit down to lunch they are offered beer from a barrel. OH LA HO’s Amber Ale is what I imagine they drank. Oh and from the movie where he says, It comes in pints?? This is the beer I imagine. I thick, strong foam, hearty, warming flavour with naturally brewed flavours.

Maybe this beer simply came to me at the right time, but I really enjoyed it. I’m writing this review during down time at work now, but you had better bloody believe I’m going to pick up a few cans of it on the way home tonight, go ahead and put money on that. I reckon I’ll drink one or two while in the bath tonight. Sounds great to me.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

OH LA HO! Brewery - Thrash Lager, Can.

Name: Captain Crow Thrash Lager

Brewery: Oh La Ho! Brewing

Style: Lager

Purchased at: The Oh La Ho! Brewery and Nagano train station.

Price: ¥350

Taste: 9.5/10

Alcohol Level: 5%

Music: It’s a thrash lager so I had to listen to some Thrash
Aura Noir – Black Thrash Attack

Snack: Chicken sandwich with japapenos


OH LA HO! releases another beer with their mascot, Captain Crow. I don’t get why he is on some of their beers and not others. I’ve reviewed the other Captain Crow beer, the Pale Ale, and I have to say Captain Crow is getting better because I like this one more.

I feel like I don’t often see craft lager beers, it seems like a style that you might see more in British Pubs or something like that. The taste of this beer is delicious. I’ve had it a few times because shortly after it released I bought it every time I saw it. On their facebook page I remember them posting something about there only being a certain amount of these beers being made, like 2000 or something. So I though Man I better get as many as I can! But I’ve seen this beer many times around Nagano, even now months after its release, so clearly I read something wrong.

This beer is really tasty man. They say it’s a lager but I feel like I can taste a lot of hops or whatever, like in a Pale Ale. Maybe this is how lager is meant to taste, but as I said I imagine standard draught beer when I think of lager, so I was a little surprised. So I don’t at all regret buying it a bunch of times, and I still go for it if I see it available. Nice colour and a lot of foam, but that was probably just from the way I poured it.

OH LA HO! has a brewery a little south of where I am outside of Ueda in a village called Tomi. It’s up in the hills and has an unreal view. They have all their beers there on tap. The food there is pretty fancy, I was hoping for hamburgers and stuff when I went there, but I was able to get chips and sausages so I was happy. I 100% recommend going there if you can! At the brewery I saw this beer won a heap of awards. It deserved them!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Beer Event: 2018 Japan Brewers Cup.

Name: Japan Brewers Cup 2018

Brewery: Various

Style: Various

Purchased at: Ticket purchased at the door.

Price: ¥500 per ticket

Taste: 10/10

Alcohol Level: Various, up to like 10 or 15%

Music: Bands unknown to me, but good.

Snack: Grilled Lamb, Fish and Chips.



I was on my way down to Tokyo planning on doing some walking around some smaller temples. I’ve been watching what I eat recently and cutting down on beers and bad food. Well all that went out the window when I found out there was a craft beer festival on in Yokohama. 

The building that the festival was held in was awesome. It was right by the sea and made entirely of wood. It was curvy too, it felt like walking on the back of a giant whale, entering through the blowhole to devour the beers where its brain would be.

When I entered I was in shock. Inside the large room, lining the walls, were a large number of craft brewery stalls, all offering their unique brews. It was unreal. There was also a grilled meat vendor and a place that had fish and chips. Bloody oath.

It was overwhelming at first, I didn’t know what to choose. The festival was also a competition for best beer. I found myself in front of the brewery that won best beer. It wasn’t even 2 o’clock yet and they had already sold out of their award winning beer. Sucked for me but it must’ve been awesome for them.

So I went with an old favourite: Harvest Moon brewery. I first tried these guys at the Snow Monkey beer festival. I was drawn to them because I like the video game series named Harvest Moon, and the Neil Young album Harvest Moon. Jeez a great night would be listening to Harvest Moon while playing Harvest Moon and drinking some Harvest Moon. So I got their sampling set, some fish and chips and went outside.

It was pretty cold, but a lot of people turned up. As the host pointed out on stage later, there were a lot of non-Japanese people there. I’d say at least a third of the people there. Families were turning up. There was a dude asleep already. There were some huge security guards, but I doubt they were needed. The overall atmosphere was so friendly and fun feeling.

I finished those beers and went back inside. This time I went with Oh La Ho! a favourite of mine that I’ve reviewed before. I felt like I should support my fellow Nagano residents. This time I went with some grilled lamb, which is a bit rare in Japan. They also had wild boar and deer, but I didn’t want to tempt fate with shitting myself while I didn’t have a quick exit or a real idea of where I was.

After all that I came back inside. There were bands playing so I decided to watch them. As I was drinking outside and idol band were on stage. This seemed like a really odd choice for a beer festival. They had a lot of fans there though, glowsticks flaring. When I went inside though and band that had an acoustic guitar, violin, harmonica with effects and drums where on. They were really damn cool and suited the mood so much better. I didn’t get their name though which sucked. I was feeling the beer pretty hard at that point, so maybe I enjoyed them more than I would otherwise. Off to the side I saw the idol band having a meet and greet with their rather intense fans. I guess if you paid extra you could go behind the booth and have a close talking conversation with them where they pretended to be interested in what you were saying.

During this time I had many more beers, but I can’t remember the breweries. I walked around and got a beer from any place that had no customers and looked lonely.

Overall I rate this event a 10/10. Heaps of beer at a good price, good food, not overcrowded, no dickheads and no annoying rules like not being able to go outside or anything. It reminded me of a larger Snow Monkey beer festival. If you get the chance to check out a beer festival in Japan, bloody do it. 

Beer Cup Website:
Oh La Ho! Beer:
Harvest Moon Beer: