Since I've been home (home meaning Japan) from my trip to Oregon, I've had a few chances to try craft beer, and except for a New Year's Eve marathon that went from Caldera to Asahi to hangover, I have avoided standard beers and instead looked for ways to branch out.
I have not been disappointed. My girlfriend's father, aware that I am a beer fan, stocked the fridge at their house ahead of my visit on New Year's day. It was a thoughtful effort, which included a nice variety, but craft beer was not represented.. I of course graciously accepted what was served, but the conversation inevitably led to what kind of beer I really like. I also shared a Caldera IPA which I had brought from Oregon. They liked it, despite its bitterness blowing everything else on the table out of the prefecture.
For my return visit on the second, the daughters of the family had been instructed to obtain some Yona Yona Ale. To add to this, I brought along a few bottles of Ise Kadoya as well. It was nice to pour everyone a sampling and decide which ones we liked best. Ise Kadoya's Pale and Brown proved popular. The seasonals were a bit too festive for my taste, but among them were a decent Blonde Ale and a just-barely-too-sweet Yuzu Ale.
On a following weekend trip to Nagoya, I popped in to a liquor shop in Sakae which sells Kinshachi Beer and picked up a few offerings. I liked the IPA but ended up giving the others away without trying them (there will be a next time). On the Nagoya trip, I also visited Keg for the first time. It was easy to find thanks to the Beer in Japan app, and I was pleased to start my session with a Shiga Kogen IPA. I had a few more offerings, all that I had not tried before, and enjoyed them all. My only regret was that I couldn't stay longer (there will, of course, be a next time).
More recently, a friend and I hit up Ise Kadoya's Biyagura for a 2-hour nomihoudai (available on the regular menu at under 2,000 yen). There were three seasonals on tap, including the aforementioned Blonde Ale, a "Nut's Brown Porter" (sic) and a ginger flavored beer. The Blonde is nice and I quite enjoyed the Nut's Brown, but the ginger was best kept in sampler size. Of course, after two hours, we were decently drunk and quite satisfied. The brown and pale are always there for you when last order comes around.
In all, I have mostly avoided the standard beers while trying a wider variety of craft than I had normally availed myself too. I hope I can keep it up. Perhaps it's time to branch out to a web order from Ezo?
(I'll add some pictures to this post later)