For those looking to start 2015 off right there are a pair of Kanto area craft beer festivals coming up. The Japan Brewers Cup in Yokohama will be held on January 23rd, 24th and 25th and the Nippon Craft Beer Festival will be held in the Sumida area of Tokyo on February 7th and 8th.
The Japan Brewers Cup is being held in the Yokohama International Terminal, a docking pier for passenger ferrys and cruise ships. While that may seem like a strange place for a beer festival, it is actually a fantastic venue. The building itself is a unique, undulating construction with a large indoor hall for the festival proper and an outdoor wooden observation deck with great views of the Yokohama waterfront.
The Japan Brewers Cup is an open to the public beer festival and a craft beer competition. In the morning judges sample the entered beers and vote on the categories winner. The public (limit 200) can come and observe the voting. In the afternoon the whole venue opens to the public and there is plenty of beer, food,and entertainment. The mornings results are also announced, so visitors have a fun opportunity to sample the winners as they are announced.
I managed to stumble upon the Japan Brewers Cup last year, and I really enjoyed it. It felt a bit smaller and more intimate than the Keyaki Beer Festival, but there was still a lot of really great beers available. This year there will be 24 breweries and six importers bringing 180 different beers. Some of the attendees this year are Nihonkai Club, Outsider Brewing, and Yokohama Brewery.
Entry to the Japan Brewers Cup is 500 yen, and the afternoon open hours are 5 PM to 9 PM on Friday (with no morning Judging) 1 PM to 9 PM Saturday and 1 PM to 7 PM on Sunday.
A couple of weeks later in early February the Nippon Craft Beer Festival will be held in the Sumida Riverside Hall, across the Sumida River from the Asakusa subway station. This is an interesting event, as the focus seems to be as much on spreading a culture of craft beer as it is in drinking craft beer. Though the two goals are certainly entwined!
Tickets for the main event are 3,900 yen in advance and 4,500 yen at the door. Each ticket allows for ten 100ml tastes, and there are 700 special edition advance tickets that include a Nippon Craft Beer Festival glass. Though this being a Tokyo based event, I imagine those special tickets are probably sold out. Once you get inside the event, there are 20 breweries bringing at least 60 different beers. Brewers like Kiuchi, Coedo, and Shonan will be there. Kiuchi is even bringing along a New Years seasonal beer.
Along with the festival proper there are a few special events. There will be a series of all you can drink craft beer river cruises along the Sumida River, as well as a massive craft beer group date! You can pay an extra 4,500 yen to be one of 300 beer loving singles trying to find your malty soul mate.
Summer is the busy time for beer festivals, but with two coming up in the next few weeks we craft beer lovers have some nice opportunities to start 2015 off right, with some delicious beer.