Columns

The Local Brew

By Bryan Harrell

Baird Beer

2016
ISSUE
61

 Soon after Baird Beer was founded, it rapidly established a reputation as one of the best microbreweries in Japan. Not only was the beer line-up of very high quality, but also the original selection of six year-round beers had two slightly unusual twists in the form of Red Rose Amber Ale and Angry Boy Brown.

Red Rose Amber Ale is aged for a while at lower temperatures, giving it a distinctive crisp and dry character. Angry Boy Brown Ale’s strong malt character and riot-like hop pro le compete for your attention as they highlight the original interplay between malt sweetness and hop bitterness.

Both beers remained my favorite until the addition of Suruga Bay Imperial IPA to the selection some years later. Personally, these three beers all offer tons of character, yet are distinctively different in terms of style and avors.

At present, the year-round selection has increased to 12 beers, including a low-alcohol “session ale,” a wheat ale, two lagers and a Japanese Pale Ale.

Along with this growing number of year-round brews, Baird has kept busy by brewing a surprising variety of interesting special edition beers which change with the seasons. Their seasonal brewing is organized into four series; the monthly style series, the fruitful life series, the brewer’s passion series and the four seasons series.

In the monthly style series, favorites include Ganko Oyaji Barley Wine, Brewer’s Nightmare Rye IPA and Four Sisters Spring Bock. In the fruitful life series, The Carpenter’s Mikan Ale is perhaps the most famous fruit beer and should not be missed, while Temple Garden Yuzu Ale and Japan Tale Ale (with ume) are worthy of note. The four season’s beers include the highly recommended Saison Sayuri in Spring and the Yabai-Yabai Strong Scotch Ale in the fall. The brewer’s passion series is perhaps the hardest to catch, so to keep pace with releases, you should subscribe to the Baird Beer Voice newsletter. 

It is both the tremendous variety of Baird Beer and its overall high level of quality that truly sets it apart from most other craft beer in Japan. While a few brewers offer some beers that approach Baird standards, it cannot be said for their entire line.

Those living in Tokyo and Yokohama can drink Baird at one of the Baird Taprooms. Plus, no matter where you live in Japan, it is easy to order Baird Beer for home delivery, either by Yahoo Shopping or Rakuten.

For details, and to sign up for the newsletter, check the Baird website at www.bairdbeer.com.

Baird Taprooms
Baird’s original Fishmarket Taproom (and site of the original brewery) is in the sleepy shing town of Numazu in Shizuoka. Since then, they have opened taprooms in Naka- Meguro and Harajuku in Tokyo, Bashamichi in Yokohama and at their new brewery in Shuzenji in Shizuoka. Their newest taproom recently opened in Takadanobaba.

The taprooms offer fresh, minimally processed craft cuisine, with each focusing on a unique take on delicious meats to pair with their great beers. The Takadanobaba Taproom specializes in kushiage (skewers of fried meat and vegetables), while the Harajuku Taproom’s specialty is yakitori.

The Naka-Meguro Taproom offers New Haven-style pizza, while the Yokohama Taproom specializes in traditional American-style barbecue. For details and locations, visit www.bairdbeer.com/en/tap/index.html