Saturday, 17 October 2015

We visited Osaka Japan

In Oct 2015 we visited Osaka Japan for 4 days. We spent much of our time in the Dotonbori district which is famous for its street food including local favourites like Takoyaki (Octopus balls topped w’ Bonito flakes), Okonomiyaki (pancakes made of shredded cabbage and seafood), crab legs, gyozas and of course steaming bowls of Ramen.

After all that eating our thoughts naturally turned to beer. Unlike here in Vancouver, most craft brewpubs in Osaka don’t actually brew their own beer and serve 100% guest taps. They also don’t do Growlers.

Our first stop was Yellow Ape ( They don't brew their own beer but they serve a nice variety of guest taps in their whopping 200 sq ft tasting room. Prices are steep but it has is a quirky ambience, owing partly to extreme coziness and partly to the Spanish tapas style bar snacks made with wholly Japanese ingredients. We tried the Minoh Pilsner from Osaka and the Shigakogen Porter from Nagaon - both were nice but they serve tiny 260ml pours - more like we’d see in a flight.

The music featured a heavy rotation of Taylor Swift (like everywhere in Osaka) but on the upside they have free Wi-Fi and a great selection of local English language craft beer magazines to browse.

Our second stop was Garage 39 ( and I could become a regular. People were devouring authentic pub food (Japanese, French, Spanish & English) and they served a great selection of guest taps (not brewing any beer either). The service was excellent and it’s the kind of place where in the middle of the most foreign place, you feel instantly at home (unlike some cheesy fake Irish pub).

They serve flights of 3 beers. Prices were also double (maybe triple) that of Vancouver but they make up for it with friendly & knowledgeable service. We tried a Shigakougen IPA (6%), a Shigakougen Saison (7%) and a Miyajima Pilsner (5%). I liked the Saison best . Thankfully there was no Taylor Swift - instead they played a funky selection of bouncy euro tracks that kept us Shazamming...

Here they gave us the "Osaka Craft Beer Map vol. 03", a wicked map of craft brew pubs organized my district and x-referenced by subway lines. We couldn’t find it online but it sure would have come in handy at the start of our crawl.

Out final stop was at Marca - one of the few craft breweries actually brewing beer in Osaka.

Tiny doesn't begin to describe an entire working brewery & tasting room in under 1000 sq ft. They had 3 of their own beers on tap (2 pale ales and 1 IPA) and a guest tap Saison. We tried them all and the IPA was our favorite. They do serve a few Japanese bar snacks but the prices were steep so we didn't hang around for long.  Mizuki Kamiya, the owner & brewmaster has been at it for 3 years now but the place lacked ambience and seemed clinical.

It’s always fun to check out the local craft beer spots wherever we travel. Even if it just reminds us how very spoiled we are in Vancouver with our amazing craft breweries and tasting rooms.

~ Ron & Carmen

Websites dedicated to Craft Beer in Japan: 
Beer In Japan - Osaka: (Beer Scene in Japan – Japanese & English)
RateBeer – Osaka: (Worldwide Ratings of Beer - English) 
The Japan Beer Times: (Craft Beer Magazine of Japan –English & Japanese)
Beer Zen: (Journal for Japanese Craft Beer – English & Japanese)

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Pabst Brewing Company Returns to its Roots

Pabst Brewing Company Returns to its Roots

With the craft beer craze taking over North America, Pabst Brewing Co has decided to take advantage of its vast library of vintage beer recipes.  Next year, Pabst will reopen its historic brewery closed in 1996 to produce vintage beers going back to its roots.  The company will open a new microbrewery and tasting room in its original building (a converted Methodist church from the 1890s.)  The brewery's history goes back even further than that: it was founded in 1844.

Expect to see chestnuts such as Tankard Ale, Kloster Beer, Bock, Andecker, and more.  If you visit the brewery/tasting room (expected to be opened Summer 2016), you will be able to enjoy brewery tours, a museum full of memorabilia, a tasting room (of course), beer garden, and even a brew pub serving small-batch brews only available on-site.

Pabst joins a host of large international breweries trying to tap into the craft beer momentum.  This phenomenon is not without controversy from craft beer purists.  (Is it really "craft beer" when manufactured by one of the world's largest breweries?)  Still, a company with such deep history, at least from the perspective of the USA, they should have the right to revive the gems of their past.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Doan Brewery

There is always something fun to do at Doan !

Doan took over the location of  Powell street brewery, and if you remember that place you know how small the tasting room was! If you could even call that a tasting room. Well Doan renovated and made it much larger. I would say it is still one of the smaller tasting rooms, but you can only work with the space you have. They could accommodate about 8-12 people depending on how friendly you want to get !

Doan is a family run brewery, and they've got some great ideas to keep thing fresh and fun ! A pinball machine, which can be played at any time, but on Thursday night it's free!

They start off the week with a cask night on Monday's, followed by Bingo on Tuesday, and Lego on Wednesday.

They offer up the usual tasting room foods, pretzels and popcorn, but also offer locally made Samosa and Pizza.

Doan offers an IPA, a Kolsch as well as an Altbier. The batch Kolsch wasn't quite ready to be served the night we were there, but one of the perks of a family business is they can bend the rules. We got a sample right from the vat !

~ Colleen