The Saitama Craft Beer Festival was everything I expected and more.
Compared to Sydney ones, the Saitama one was a much better organised event with individual breweries offering their products at direct prices. This meant no prebooking required, no restrictive tab/ticket based tasting systems, no endless queues, and plenty of time and space to enjoy many craft beer tasting selections boxes.
The best thing was it was just a five minute walk from the Saitama train station and there were no tickets to buy to get in or people checking your bags or even checking your ID. Families were welcome.
There was a huge variety of craft beers on offer, with many more creative beers outside the usual pale, lager, wheat, pilsner, IPA, Ale, stout and porter varieties.
Favourites included Yuzu (aka Japanese lemon) beer and blueberry beer.
For beer and wine I prefer thick and juicy, rather than thin and light, so when I drink beer it is usually black, unless something unusual appears. Definitely enjoyed the 100pts chocolate porter and 99pts(?) whiskey stout. The porter was the thick and tasty style with a hint of dark chocolate. The whiskey stout had the right amount of oakey smoothness making it a very drinkable tipple.
We also enjoyed some amazing beer snacks, including fried split fish in a paper bag called Yamame, from the Iwate Prefecture,
and steamed Iwagaki (Japanese rock oysters)
Other food included a sundried radish (iburigakko) along with a vegetable broth with a rice cake inside (kiritanpo) – both are Akita Prefecture’s traditional local food.
And some tasty pork intestines (horumon).
The chilli chicken pieces below were the hottest I’ve ever tried (think 10+ chilli level) and we were glad of the tasting samples of stout and porters.
There were also places selling wine and other drinks for when you’d had enough of the craft beer. I’m guessing with what looked to be at least 1000 different craft beers on offer, I doubt anyone would be able to get that far. Though for those who didn’t drink, but accompanied beer drinkers, it was a good for them.
The other thing I noticed, which is quite different to Australian culture, is that just about every drinks seller also had a food section as it is common in Japan to only drink with food. (Though Japanese who come to Sydney quickly learn our ways and take those ideas back to Tokyo, so things are changing!)
We sat near a place called Craft Beer Baby which had a logo of a hastily drawn 2 year old in a yellow shirt, jeans and white shoes. Funnily enough a 2 year old in a yellow shirt wearing jeans and white shoes appeared near the sign, so I had to take a photo. See below! (I’ve blurred the mother and bub)
Well, it was funny at the time!
A completely unplanned, awesome day!