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The market for craft beer is growing in Japan and as a result of that more breweries are showing up in America. Last week I sampled a few beers from Japan at Whole Foods Market in El Segundo, California. The four beers and breweries that was represented was Orion from Okinawa with the Premium Draft, Koshihiki and the stout from Echigo Beer Company in Niigata, Kankiku Brewery in Sunbu-gun with their Kujukuri Ocean Beer – Weize. The Orion Premium Draft is a basic European lager, nothing special but drinkable. Koshihiki is a Japanese rice lager (Koshihiki is a rice variety created in 1956). The flavor is a bit richer than Orion, drinkable but nothing special. The stout from Echigo is light in color for a stout, malty flavor, slightly roasted. The beer doesn’t taste like it’s 7% ABV. The most interesting of the four was Kujukuri Ocean Beer – Weize. I first thought I had received an Orval. The beer is slightly sour and a tone of wheat flavors, malty and dry in the finish.

I don’t know if the Whole Foods sampling event was scheduled at the same time as the release of the Stone, Ishii and Bird Brewing Company Green Tea IPA collaboration on purpose. Just around the same time this beer showed up on the market. The beer I slightly dark honey colored with some copper red. Some citrus and grass in the body and a little edgy.

Sometimes things just happen by coincidence. Today I was thinking about the Japanese beer sampling and the Green Tea IPA and if this might be a new “thing” that brewers will use in their beers. I was at the Whole Foods Market in Huntington Beach and saw that they had Yerba Mate, which I of course had to try. Mate is a South American tea-like beverage that is significantly stronger that regular tea. And what do you know! I look through the beer section in the store and found Yerba Mate IPA from MateVeza Brewing Company in Ukiah, CA. I have never heard about the brewery or beer before. The Yerba Mate IPA is bitter with manly the bitterness from mate. I could detect a little note of grass and citrus in the body. After having the beer in the glass for a while a smell of cat-pee spread through out the room.

I’m not sure that tea and beer goes well together or maybe I should say tea and IPA. If you use a bitter tea it only ads to the already bitter flavors from in the IPA I think it makes it a little to edgy and lack of balance. I’m not a brewer or even a home brewer but I would like to try tea and maybe even mate with a sweeter Belgian blond or a brown ale. That would bring out the tea flavors more without crashing with the bitter hops.

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