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The Local Brew

By Bryan Harrell

A Tiny Brewery Hidden in Shinjuku

2016
ISSUE
60

Tucked in a tiny corner of Shinjuku, about a seven- minute walk from the South Exit of JR Shinjuku Station (although technically still in Shibuya-ku), is the welcoming little Y.Y.G. Brewery and Beer Kitchen.

This small brewery makes beer in small batches, and there are fresh new beers brewed on a regular basis. On a recent visit I had three of their offerings, and all of them proved to be smooth and easy drinking brews running between 4 to 5.5 percent alcohol. No strong flavors or excessive hop levels here. The Shinjuku IPA was a hazy gold with minimal head, but enough hops to keep this hop-lover interested. At 5.5 percent alcohol, it is one of their strongest, but one would have to be a serious drinker to get a real buzz going on here.

Next up, the British Brown Ale (4.5 percent) could better be described as a mild if the alcohol was a point lower. A lovely deep opaque brown color, it had a roasty malt aroma with the flavors becoming more apparent (and favorable) as it warms. Finally, the Yoyogi Amber Ale, also with minimal head, had only 4.1 percent alcohol and displayed minimal aroma, but had a good, hearty ale flavor that stays with you till the end of the glass.

All three beers were served in 320- ml. portions for ¥800, making them quite reasonable in a huge town such as Shinjuku. I had my initial beer downstairs at the bar on the first floor, then drank the other two in the restaurant upstairs on the seventh floor. In the restaurant, I enjoyed a very competently assembled Charcuterie Plate (¥1,500) and the delightful Parmesan Crisps (¥700), very thin shavings of the famous Italian cheese, then fried to a tasty crisp in a skillet.

The only thing I found odd was the fact Asahi Super Dry is one of the guest beers (and the cheapest at ¥650) joining two other Japanese craft beers, which makes it apparent they are intent on satisfying any beer lover. In any case, their beers were completely satisfying and had true character, making for a memorable stop at Y.Y.G. Brewery.