"Designed in Japan, brewed in Belgium, drunk in Hong Kong"
March 1, 2013 2:24 AM   Subscribe

"Yamada had already become interested in beer after going drinking with fellow students around Cambridge, and taken trips to Belgium and Munich to widen his beery knowledge. Listening to Bilimoria talk about his desire to brew a beer that would match up with Indian food, Yamada had a revelation. What about a beer specifically brewed to match up with Japanese food?"
posted by MartinWisse (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Fascinating, but a couple things struck me as odd:

-With so much emphasis on being made specifically to go with Japanese flavors, it is paired with "Scallop carpaccio with soy sauce mayo. roasted beetroot tartar, arugula salad and crispy onion." Are those flavors/cooking typically Japanese?

-The bit about having to get the beer brewed in Belgium. The ingredients are flown to Belgium, the beer is made, then the beer is shipped back? It also makes this sentence at the end rather odd: "When Shiro Yamada’s Nippon Craft Beer company starts shipping the Kagua range to Europe and the US..." Since it is already made in Europe and shipped to Japan, I imagine that "shipping" it to Europe is more about getting it into restaurants and bars?
posted by vacapinta at 2:44 AM on March 1, 2013

Call me crazy, but the dinner described in the article/ad copy was pretty soundly not Japanese food.

As for history, beer has been here a long time, and there is more and more good stuff every year. Of course, it's nearly impossible to find at local supermarkets, but the Internet is a wonderful thing.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:47 AM on March 1, 2013

All of this shipping here and there should cause embarrassment instead of a being a proud aspect of its marketing.

I imagine that "shipping" it to Europe is more about getting it into restaurants and bars?

Tariffs perhaps play a big role and these just add onto these perverse environmental incentives that makes shipping bottles back and forth across the globe seem like a good idea.
posted by three blind mice at 2:55 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are those flavors/cooking typically Japanese?
I have not yet met a more mayo-loving people than the Japanese, anywhere in the world. I used to live in Japan, and spend a good bit of time in Belgium. Traditional or not, there is mayo everywhere. Other than that, the soy sauce is the only really Japanese ingredient in the dish.
posted by whatzit at 3:33 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

The food sounds pretty much like modern fancy Japanese fare to me. And the beer sounds like it suits. But for more traditional fare, give me Hitachino Nest Ancient Nipponia with boiled soy beans or their Japanese Classic Ale with white fish sashimi.
posted by hawthorne at 3:42 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

In addition to the Japanese love of mayo, simply changing the word carpaccio to sashimi makes the dish sound more Japanese.
posted by snofoam at 3:48 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

With a price tag of £12 per bottle this beer is barley for us mere Asahi-tastes-so-Japan mortals. Still, I'm always intrigued by people who pour their hearts into their passion and succeed in fermenting a business out of it (no puns intended).
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:50 AM on March 1, 2013

What is Japanese food? Ramen? Sashimi? Okonomiyaki? Nabe? There is an incredibly wide variety.

but eventually Yamada picked two typically Japanese flavourings, sanshō, or Japanese pepper,

Interesting choice, as in Japan sansho is generally considered to be a Chinese spice. The flavor of this beer seems to be something close toyuzukosho, which might actually be a good thing. Yuzukosho is a paste made from yuzu (a citrus fruit, kind of like a mini grapefruit) and chili peppers. You can put it on pretty much anything savory, and it is awesome. I'd be curious how that tastes.
posted by zardoz at 3:55 AM on March 1, 2013

What I've always wondered about: how can you make a pairing of food and drink for an international market? Sense of taste, mouthfeel etc. is mostly defined by customs and culture. Japanese can distinguish tastes that we just don't get and vice versa. How many Europeans were even aware of umami before this became a thing? Whenever I bring a bunch of euro cheese to Asia, I always wonder: what will they actually taste (if the can stand that taste at all?)
posted by ouke at 4:06 AM on March 1, 2013

Hawthorne, if you get a chance, Hitachino's stouts are awesome. They have a fantastic 8% 80 Day, and their espresso stout is awesome.

Other than that, Sanktgallen (out of Kanagawa), Mino (out of Osaka), Full Moon (out of Chiba, next to Disneyland), and Okutama no Megumi (Tokyo) have all made some fascinating beers. They might not be cheap, but they aren't quite this absurd.

We should have a meetup at the Yokohama Beer Festival.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:25 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I had some Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale at a izakaya in Dublin last year; it was indeed very good. Does anyone import it into the UK though? All the Japanese restaurants here seem to only have Asahi/Kirin/Sapporo (brewed under licence in the UK) plus non-Japanese beers. (In Ireland, the group of restaurants claims to have an exclusive deal to import it.)
posted by acb at 4:26 AM on March 1, 2013

Acb: James Clay are importing some more Hitachito into the UK in the next month or so. Keep your eyes peeled and you should be able to snag some!
posted by jimbaud at 5:09 AM on March 1, 2013

I tried to buy some but it is sold out in Japan.
If you want real Japanese craft beer get some Minoh beer.
posted by Infernarl at 8:11 AM on March 1, 2013

The local Oakland brewery, Linden Street, currently makes bespoke beers for two restaurants. I've had Supafly, the Hawker Fare beer brewed with rice, lemongrass, and shiso. It would go well with Japanese food I imagine, and at five bucks a pint is much cheaper than the beers in the article.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:46 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Five bucks a pint.

posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 2:01 PM on March 1, 2013

The beer in question sounds interesting and I'd like to try both brews. But the whole "brewed in Belgium, imported to Japan" thing is ridiculous. If you're going for a truly Japanese beer, wouldn't it make sense to brew it in Japan?

I'm not saying that you have to build your own brewery---contracting it out to an established brewery can be a smart approach for a small company---but shipping your ingredients to Belgium? I dunno. That doesn't exactly scream: "Uniquely and authentically Japanese!"
posted by asnider at 3:33 PM on March 1, 2013

Has Yamada never heard of Kirin Lager?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 PM on March 1, 2013

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