[Posted November 9, 2012] I lean up against the brewery’s bar, my thirst enhanced by the golden beer pouring at the taps. I glance down and notice a dozen brown, shiny, glazed eggs in a neat presentation. They don’t seem real. I touch one and ask for an interpretation of the Japanese. They are beer snacks; 3-months old, smoked and salted in their original shell hard boiled eggs. No refrigeration? I’m thinking this must be an extension of the 1,000 year old eggs I encounter (without the guts to try them) throughout other parts of Asia. I try one because they look so beautiful and I like smoke – they are surprisingly good, fresh, salty, smoky and tasting like a hardboiled egg. By this time, woman brewmaster, Kaori Oshishita is offering me her American-style IPA.
At the Minoh Beer Brewery in Osaka, I’m offered Kölsch beer, Imperial Stout, Double IPA, a sour beer and an experimental Japanese umabushi plum beer. I wish my liver could process more quickly so I could try their Pilsener, Stout, Pale Ale, Weizen and other award winning beers. Kaori is the brewmaster aided byher two other women assistants. They are making a variety of craft beers and are winning in international competitions not only in Japan, but in the World Beer Cup, Brewing Industry International Awards, World Beer Awards and others.
The world’s image of the beer maker is usually of guy brewmasters. Whether it’s mass produced beer from huge factories or small batches from craft brewers guy brewers have rocked the beer scene making great beer and continue to do so. But there is another world that is the antithesis of the brewing stereo-type. Women involved with beer and brewing happens all over the world. They are understated in beer culture. Not surprisingly, women seem more involved with making beer, selling beer, enjoying beer when there is something about the beer to think about. It seems that the learning experience craft beer offers has opened psychological barriers, welcoming women who see the opportunity to enhance their enjoyment of beverage and be involved in the development of new beer cultures and a creative product they can more readily relate to.
It was obvious on my August, 9-day journey in Japan that women were very much immersed in the beer culture called Japanese craft beer & brewing. Award winning women brewers, women run craft beer pubs, women beer judges, women competition organizers and volunteers are frequently encountered if you’re on the craft beer path while in Japan.
An evening’s visit to the tiny craft beer centric pub called Craft Beer Base reflects the passion and enthusiasm of pub owner Ai Tani. In Osaka it’s located at 1-2-11,Oyodominami,Kita-ku. The selection is mostly of choice American and Japanese craft beers along with legendary Belgian brewed specialties. I enjoy a bottle of Lagunitas Maximus and a draft pint of Green Flash IPA. Ai Tani is involved with beer as a judge, beer event organizer and certified beer taster through the Japan Craft Beer Association various educational programs and events.
Our evening is topped off with dinner at Keiji Nishio’s Craft Beer Dining Eni-Bru. There’s an astounding variety of Japanese and other craft beers on the menu. Dinner was served, but I wasn’t paying much attention to dinner.
Next: Kyoto: More women in brewing, homebrewer’s nano brewpub and sake/craft brewers.
- Discovering craft beer in Japan
- Yokohama City of craft beer surprises
- The Good Marriage in Tokyo is Beer & Food
- Africa Pale Ale, good hope & more Tokyo beer shenanigans
- Wakayama, Japan – a beer place I was destined to visit