Sunday, 29 January 2017
Minami Shinsyu Beer - Golden Ale 330ml bottle.
Name: Minamishinsyu Beer
Brewery: Komagatake Brewery
Style: Golden Ale
Purchased at: Grill The Butcher, a steak restaurant in Nagano Station
Alcohol Level: 5%
Music: Restaurant background music. Before I arrived I was listening to Aves - Feathers
On Australia day I decided to have a beer and some steak. Finding a decent steak in Japan can be difficult, depending on where you live. Outside of the main cities if you don't love Japanese food to death, then you will have to learn to cook. Thankfully for us there is a really good steak restaurant in Nagano Station called Grill the Butcher. Compared to Australian prices, the steaks are not that expensive. They are delicious and there's absolutely nothing Japanese about the taste, except for the wasabi they put on the side of the plate which I try my best to ignore.
Anyway today's beer was a craft beer from the Komagatake Brewery in Southern Nagano. I haven't visited this brewery yet, but if I find myself down south I will definitely check it out. Making craft beer in Japan can't be easy. It's illegal for people to make their own
alcohol at home, which sucks because just before I arrived here I tried brewing a beer of my own (it was terrible). Maybe the process of making sake can become explosive if amateurs try it, I'm not sure, but they don't want people making it at home. To get a license to make
beer is tough and expensive, so given the chance I will always support a craft beer company here.
The beer made by breweries in Nagano always tastes so clean and fresh. There is basically an unlimited supply of fresh water, thanks to all the snow melting and running down the mountains. Drinking beer made here really feels like you are drinking the nectar of the mountains. I believe this company was born from a whiskey company, so I don't think it is some tiny 3 man operation or anything, but looking at their site tells me they are still quite small and everything appears to be handmade.
I had the Golden Ale. It was clean, fresh and crisp. I wanted to sip it because it tasted so good. Drinking this while eating steak, man I was loving life. There was maybe a tiny bit of sweetness or citrus flavour to it, but nothing too strong. Just the delicious taste of fresh beer straight from the icy mountains of Nagano, perfect.
This beer might be a little difficult to come across. I assume outside of Nagano there might not be too many places to buy it. Here in Nagano you might get lucky at a souvenir shop, they occasionally sell beer and sake. Shops selling local foods and crafts might sell it. I live in the northern part of Nagano, so perhaps going south would be easier. And of course, check the menu and maybe it will be available. To my knowledge this was the first time I'd come across this beer, and it wasn't on the menu last time we were at this restaurant. I would like to buy more, but apart from this restaurant, I'm not 100% sure where to find it.
I've found that bottle shops like Takagi are completely useless for beer, they only sell Asahi and Kirin, so don't even bother trying. Maybe the supermarket Tsuruya would have it sometimes, but I haven't seen it. Most people in Japan seem pretty happy with Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo, so you have to go looking for craft beers here. if you are travelling in Japan I urge you to venture outside of smashing Asahi and Kirin the whole time. When they have a cool label and it says it was brewed locally, it really brings to mind the idea of people taking water straight from the rivers and crafting their beers among the mountains of Nagano.