So it's summer, and if I could think of a better place to be, then it would be Niigata. With all the great water and grain used to make delicious food and sake, they should have no problem brewing some amazing beers. I have written previously on the evolution of the microbrew industry in Japan. I had stated that the beer boom hasn't caught on yet. I was right back then, but times have changed and what I discovered in Niigata City is that people know their beers. You don't have to lecture them on what tastes good, they already know.
I was blessed to receive 20 tickets with an advanced purchase of 3000 yen. Beer much was included with the price of the ticket. You can use the beer tickets to purchase food, but I said to myself " why waste a good beer ticket on food." I love the samurai print on the glass mug. It is really a nice glass.
In Tokyo, they seem to just drink whatever everybody else is drinking, not enough beer knowledge is spread around evenly. Beer info. but not beer knowledge. Just like the masses who do not appreciate Japanese sake, but would rather drink cocktails and near beer. What's even worse is the "no alcohol" beer phenomena, and low alcohol with purines added. I just do not approve of it.
The champion for the beer event was Swan Lake. They nailed it with their Crystal Ale, White Swan Weizen, and Porter. Arguable the best porter in the world, even according to some beer experts. I wasted no time putting beer away, neither did my old old friends from way back in the day.
Niigata Beer Festival rocked. It was the best beer event I have been to in a long time, not in some stuffy ass bar, but a whole outdoor shopping mall with taps from all over Niigata. I could've easily attended a beer event in my own city, but why waste my liver on stuff I can get anytime. It was the SwanLake that made me ride the shinkansen all the way up here. Of course I could have easily went to Tokyo Station to the Swanlake Pub, which is where I am typing this essay now! The smoked chicken is the die for, by the way.
The Japanese have always been able to take the best of everything and make it even better than best! Obnoxiously good. Where the hell are you going to find a porter that can best SwanLake?
And then, how can I forget Echigo Beer. I do not recommend it if you have an aversion to light tasting beer. I would rather recommend their red ale, a very modest improvement from their standard rice brews. I believe if they stick with this summer red ale, they will prosper for a long time to come. Their red ale is where it's at.
I can probably list up a dozen other beers, but hey, why waste your time. Swan Lake is all you need.
Since you probably missed the Niigat beer festival, you don't need me to rub it all in with pictures, do you? Just know that from time to time you need to leave Tokyo. Why? Because it does not define Japan. The truest essence of Japan is in Tohoku and Hokuriku. West Japan has its merits, too. I won't explain that now in this essay. Maybe later.