Monday, May 14, 2012

The Drinks of "Golden Week"

Hello again dear readers. I have had a very busy last few weeks. Leaving me with some good stuff to write about.  First off two weeks ago was "Golden Week", for those who don't know, Golden Week is a week in Japan where many holidays happen to fall. Meaning a lot of the populace takes the time to vacation with their families and relax. Or in the case of Akita. Drink. So as you all can imagine I've done my fair share over the last few weeks. First off I will mention some drinks I did not get the chance to photograph, though I have reviewed them before.

My girlfriend and I were in a park over Golden Week and met up with some local Akita folk. They kindly invited us over to their drinking area and gave us as much as we could drink. Very kind people. I had a can of Kirin, Asahi Dry Black, and a few shots of sake and some shochu.  Shochu is a drink I had not had before, it is made from sweet potatoes. Very different then sake and much stronger.  I purchased a bottle of it recently and hope to review it in the near future.

The next day we returned to the park and met up with some of my co-workers. With them I had a few bottles of Heartland ale (reviewed earlier, and presumably brewed by Kirin). As well as the Namahage bock, which remains one of my favorite Japanese beers to date.

Later on in the week I went on a mini-vacation with my girlfriend to lake Tazawako. There is at least one brewery located near the lake.

One beer I had with dinner our first night at the hotel was Tazawako Breweries Dark Lager. It was as the name implies. A dark lager, not too bad, fairly smooth, though I might add not great with fish. It might have been better with a hamburger rather then sushi. Overall a good drink though, but as all other drinks are, it was about 500 yen. Still pricey.

The next day during our travels I acquired two more beers. The first I was gifted, from a nice American who was an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), from another prefecture. He said he would give it to me and all I had to do was share the knowledge of the beer.

It says Rauel I'm not sure what else it says, the only other thing I could tell was it has a 7.5% alcohol content. The highest I've seen in Japan yet. The other I bought solely on the picture on the label, it features the red Namahage. Besides the red demon. I couldn't  read anything else on it but "beer". So over the last few days I tried both. As it is, I really enjoyed the Rauel beer. It was a very hoppy IPA. I enjoy IPAs a lot and I was glad to find one in Japan, even if it did just randomly find its way to me. Thanks to the Californian dude who shared with me. *Cheers*  As for the other beer, It had 5% alcohol content like most other beer I've seen here. It was an amber ale with a slightly wheaty taste. Not so bad, but not worth 550 yen.  I would easily pay 550 yen for the Rauel beer though. I guess it's just whatever your preference is.

While we were out at the lake we went to a restaurant which brewed their own beer. The establishment was called Orae, it seemed a little too fancy for my liking. Everything was very overpriced, including the beer. It was good. But not amazing, and it smelled really bad. It was a slightly wheaty taste. Sadly I'm not too fond of wheat beer.

One of my largest pet peeves in Japan, as far as beer goes is how it is presented. The picture at right shows my beer. I had not taken any drinks from it, yet there is nearly 2.5 inches of head on the top. In my experience I like to see less than an inch. Apparently the people here think it is good looking to get a bunch of foam on top of your beer. This is definitely the case at most restaurants, you pay 500 yen for a drink and 1/3rd of it is head. Not good looking in my book. End rant here.  Overall the trip out to the lake and golden week was great. I purchased some shochu before we left and I hope to write about it soon.

On a final note, my girlfriend and I attended a small sake festival near where we live. I got tickets for 5 drinks and a complimentary sake cup for 1,800 yen ~20 dollars. Not so bad when comparing the prices to everything else around here.  So I tried several locally brewed sakes all of which were very good. Though I learned I don't like dry sake. Good to know. Anyway, thanks for reading all *Cheers!*

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