Welcome to the Beer Sensei Blog! I’m Grant aka travelingrant aka The Beer Sensei. Coming from Colorado, I had an early introduction into the world of craft beer. As I started to broaden my beer horizons after college I found the easy drinking Easy Street Wheat from Odell Brewing company was right up my alley. It was full of flavor, without being too overpowering. Though my true craft epiphany came at Breckenridge Brewing’s brewpub in South Denver some years ago.
I had tried many India Pale Ales up to that point, but I had generally been put off by the intense bitterness of the style. The Breckenridge Trademark Pale Ale changed all that. The beer smelled like a field of flowers, and that intense hop floral character had me instantly hooked. Sadly the Trademark Pale Ale has been discontinued, but it opened up a whole new world to me. I am the resident hop-head, and my favorite beers are usually west-coast IPAs like those produced by Green Flash and Lagunitas. I have also really enjoyed the resurgence in popularity of the saison style, especially the Boulevard Brewing Saison Brett. That said, I really do love a wide variety of beers. Beer to me is a mix of science, cooking, history, and friendship and how can you not love all those things?
I recently spent 5 years in Japan, living a few hours north of Tokyo in Gunma Prefecture. While I have since returned to the United States, I aim to continue to write about the wide world of craft beer, in Japan, American and beyond. You can find me on Beer Advocate, Twitter @travelingrant and Untappd (search for travelingrant), or just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
Hello and thanks for reading! I’m the Mad Capper but most people call me Josh. My journey to loving beer began by hating it many years ago when I had my first sip of beer―a Labatt Blue. After that, I had no interest in beer and didn’t give it another try for several years. After coming to Japan, I had little choice but to get used to lackluster macrobrews like Asahi and Kirin, given the country’s propensity for work-related drinking parties. But it wasn’t until I visited the eponymous brewery in the city of Otaru in northern Japan that I discovered that beer could actually be delicious.
Established in 1995 and employing the assistance of a German braumeister, Otaru Beer offers a fairly standard but tasty lineup of German beers, including a pilsner, a dunkel, and a weizen. The brewery even received a nod from the late beer guru Michael Jackson when he included their helles lager (discontinued) in his Great Beer Guide. My travel companion and I arrived at the brewery in the middle of winter, so it was quite a delight to step out of the snow and frigid air and enter the cozy and rustic atmosphere of Otaru Beer’s brewery and restaurant. It was there that I had my epiphany, and it was from that point on that my budding interest in beer really took off.
Afterwards, thanks to the tutelage of my good friend Grant and the availability of a respectable variety of beers at retail outlets like Yamaya and pubs and restaurants like DevilCraft in Tokyo, my awareness of the different possibilities that can come from beer’s four basic ingredients expanded rapidly. I started off by simply wanting to know the names of the different styles, and from there I began reading up on their characteristics, how they are made, how to evaluate them, and so on. There is of course much I have to learn; I am continually amazed at the level of detail and descriptiveness employed by some reviewers. Alas, such skill naturally comes with diligence and practice, but it’s a very rewarding endeavor.
The styles I’ve come to love most tend to be big and malty, but there are great beers all across the board. If I had to choose just one as my favorite I’d probably go with Weihenstephaner’s Hefeweissbier Dunkel, a delectable German ale with the clove-like spiciness of a weizen and the sweet, bready malt of a dunkel. Other favorites include North Coast’s Old Rasputin, a complex and full-bodied Russian imperial stout, and Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA, a smooth and quaffable American IPA with the taste and aroma of fresh pine and citrus.
Otherwise, I try to keep an open mind and give just about any beer a fair shake. Granted, this does mean being severely disappointed from time to time, but I seldom find beers flat-out disgusting. At any rate, I’m always on the lookout for interesting beers, and writing about the beers I find has been a great way to deepen my knowledge about and appreciation of the great variety of brews that exist around the world. I hope you can do likewise by reading the articles posted by myself and Traveling Grant. You can also check out my other reviews on Beer Advocate. Cheers!