Japan is usually on the upswing of trends. Often we joke about their crazy fashion sense or seemingly useless inventions, but give us a few months and we realize they were right. Selfie sticks are essential and a DIYer worth their salt has a plethora of Washi tape on hand. However, a good chunk of the world seems to have beat them to the craft brewing scene. Japan as a whole hasn’t been producing craft beer to the same scale as other countries. Mainland is ahead of Okinawa, but don’t worry, they are diligently playing catch up and in some cases taking craft beer to a new level. Okinawa had their first Oktoberfest this past October and a small brewery located in Kadena area, Koza Brewing, held the first (hopefully annual) Koza craft beer festival just a couple weeks ago. We, of course, attended.
I love a good beer. As with most people my age, we have
stepped run away from the Bud lights and progressed to the IPAs of the world. Thick heads, beautiful lacing, full bodied, unfiltered, heavy hopped; I’ll take any of those over a mass produced, dulled or “light” flavored beer. My husband even more so. Poor Wade. If you are reading this, please send good beer. Now this is not to say Okinawa doesn’t have good beer. It is just harder to find. There are a few breweries on island and a few great pubs that will stock their taps with some amazing brews from mainland and other places. If you are looking for them Thirsty Shisa Blog is your place. Katie has done an amazing job scouring the island for the good stuff, let her be you guide. Me? I’m here to tell you about the fun we had at the Koza Craft Beer Festival.
Japanese people are thought of as reserved, quiet, introspective and I find most of that to be true. Give them a little booze, these cats get loud, goofy and have a glorious time. I went around to capture pictures and everyone wanted in. Cups and peace signs were a plenty. Wade and I love hitting up the local bars, izakayas, especially when traveling. We have had the most amazing conversations with different Japanese people over our time here, regardless of the language barrier. Koza craft beer festival was no different. We shared a table with a beautiful couple who made us laugh for the few hours we were there. In true Japanese fashion, we all shared buying rounds of beer, yakitori skewers, more beer. It is very important to never be the last one to get something in Japan. If you receive a “gift”, you must return the favor. I would recommend the place to put this to the test be at a beer or food festival. 😉
Hiko Toyama runs a small brewery, Koza Brewing, within walking distance of where we live. We have had his brews a few times at Okinawa’s Food Flea (outdoor food festival held a few times a year). Hiko decided it was time to bring some of Japan’s craft brewers to Okinawa. He gathered a total of seven other brewers from all over Japan along with some amazing food vendors and musicians. Of all eight breweries, In Tha Door brewing (no typo) was my favorite. They have an awesome white ale; I am a sucker for white ales. (I’m still a little sour with Sam Adams for changing up their spring brew away from their white ale. It was my favorite). Wade enjoyed In Tha Door’s pale ale the best as well. We will be hitting them up when we get to Kobe and you should too! There were some pretty interesting brews at this festival as well. We had a beer mixed with red wine, it wasn’t all that bad, more for sipping. We tried a green beer from Fukuyama Craft Heart brewery and I can’t for the life of me remember what was in it but it, I just remember it was green. They did have a tasty lemon beer though! Each tent at the festival brought something new, tasty or if nothing else intriguing to the table.
The food was scrumptious, good mix of Japanese and western style. Pork sandwiches, mussels, fire grilled meats, tempura, oh my. Where else can you get fried cuttle fish, pizza and red wine beer. I mean, I don’t know how often you would be looking for that combination but if ever you are, you will have to wait till they are having the next Koza craft beer festival. It will be worth the wait. I’m happy that Okinawa is stepping up their beer game. There are some locals who are very determined to make sure Okinawa isn’t left out of the steadily growing craft beer world and my husband and I appreciate that fully.
The Koza Craft beer festival was held in Koza Music town.