Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Craftheads

This was a huge bonus. I got invited to a small gathering at a new bar in Shibuya called Craftheads. It's the second outlet belonging to Koji Nomura (the first one being the far more remote Sal's in Saginuma).

I like the way Koji has taken a fairly basic space and let function pretty much define the way he has filled it. But by using solid, chunky furniture and letting his taps and bourbon collection dominate the bar he has actually created a surprisingly inviting atmosphere. See http://www.craftheads.jp/craftheads/Welcome.html.

As well as the owner Koji (a.k.a. Michael) were beer writers Tim Eustace and Bryan Harrell, Kjetil Jikuin of Nøgne-Ø and Eigo Sato of Tamamura Honten (brewers of Shiga Kogen beer).

Koji has cultivated such good relations with US brewers that he can stock beers on tap and in bottles that are rare in the cities they originate in, let alone in another country. The bar is pretty much a home away from home for breweries like Three Floyds, Bear Republic, Stone and Allagash. All official imports - not grey market.

Koji had heard about the fuss created when Greg Koch of Stone learned of grey market imports of Stone into New Zealand and isn't short of an opinion. I'll leave readers to guess the nature of those opinions.

Kjetil didn't arrive empty handed. He provided a very early, uncarbonated sample of a radical new Nøgne-Ø beer called Red Horizon. It was fermented slowly, at low temperatures using a sake yeast to no less than 17%ABV. You'd swear it had been fortified. With a little age and a little carbonation this is going to be an instant classic.

Kjetil also hinted at some other upcoming Nøgne-Ø releases, such as an Imperial Dunkelwit(!), Beetroot Ale and a collaboration with Mikkeller and Brewdog. And sake brewing will begin soon.

I won't bore you with more details of what was said and drunk. Here is a picture of Kjetil, Sato-san and Koji discussing the technicalities of eco-kegs. What a pity that in a city of 37 million people the public transport shuts down so early.

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