Crafting the Thirst

October 24, 2014 • Feature, In-depth

The craft craze for specialty beers has gone abroad, increasing with popularity and leaving many asking for more.

By Tiffany Ujiiye, Assistant Editor

Japan has been hailed recently as the new frontier of craft beer with a new taste in brews and bites. And San Diego has a little something to do with it.

Although August is crowned National Beer Month, it’s worth mentioning the phenomenal growth over the past several years of people’s international thirst for craft brews. The Brewers Assn. reported that in 2013, export volume increased by 49 percent over the previous year, representing 282,526 barrels and an estimated $73 million in revenue. This is serious business for major beer cities like San Diego that have experienced more than 100 percent growth every year since 2011, according to Global Craft Trading.

“San Diego beers are very popular in our export portfolio,” said Andrew Balmuth, president of Long Beach, Calif.-based Global Craft Trading, an American craft beer distributor. “The popularity has to do with the style of beers being produced by those breweries, and San Diego has done a tremendous job in branding itself as a global beer city.”

The So Cal beer kingdom is known for sticking to the lighter side on its brews, lining up Belgium blends and citrus twists to its beers.

When most people think of beer, they imagine it coming straight from a glass or on tap as a golden or chocolaty liquid topped with a frosty white head before considering where it came from. In San Diego, breweries take great care in the aroma, color and flavor of their offerings, while also considering their consumers’ tastes and pushing past generic servings in cans.

Nagano Trading, the largest distributor of American craft beer in Japan, and Global Craft Trading, which focuses on nine international markets, ships mostly San Diego beers. These businesses have experience in the global thirst for something more than just mass-produced beers but also a special craft and blend. Exports include beers from Aztec Brewery, Ballast Point, Coronado Brewing Co., Mike Hess Brewing, Iron Fist Brewing, Mother Earth Brewing Co., Stone Brew and Karl Strauss to name a few.

Shawn Dewitt, co-founder and director of brewery operations at Coronado Brewing Co., spent a week in Japan on a pub-crawl through Tokyo and Yokohama, visiting places where San Diego brews were making a splash.

Dewitt’s trip included eight brewery stops on his itinerary and visits to popular bars such as Babel Bayside Kitchen, the Hangover and Takiey.

Joining Dewitt on his trip(did people from Coeda go on the entire trip with him or just one stop?) were representatives from the Coeda Brewing Co., the largest craft brewer in Japan. Dewitt and Coeda’s president, Shigeharu Asagiri, together created a beer appropriately named the “Coedonado.” The Japanese strong ale included Japanese ingredients with brown sugar and high alcohol content, tasting like a distant cousin of a Belgium IPA.

Dewitt also made a stop at Good Beer Faucets in Tokyo. “I didn’t expect to see such a passion, and it was amazing,” explained Dewitt on his experience there. Its general manager, Dede Bri, an Israeli gentleman, explained to Dewitt his cleaning regimen for the beer lines and also gave him a tour of the cold box where the brews are stored and maintained.

“Bri was so articulate on how much carbon dioxide was in the beer, and I was just blown away by his attention to detail,” Dewitt said.

At the Watering Hole in Tokyo, pub guests asked Dewitt and his crew for autographs on their beer glasses. The small crowd was interested in the San Diego brew and how it was made, sharing with Dewitt and his team that they were fans.

While beer professionals like Bri help aid Japan’s thirst for craft beer, its popularity is still in its infant stages. Brewers from San Diego like the Coronado Brewing Co. are themselves still fresh onto the scene; Coronado Brewing Co. has only been exporting beer to Japan for six years.

“Cities like Yokohama are evolving and growing,” explained Dewitt. “They’re just starting, but we’re seeing brewers from California and San Diego moving into Japan.”

Currently, IPAs and the standard San Diego brew lineup of traditional wheat beers are the most popular export. However, darker beers are still hard to come by in Japan.

“It’s tough to say what the final number will be for this year,” Dewitt said, thinking about the export percentage in beers from San Diego to Japan. “But I’d be confident to say that it’ll definitely be larger. It’ll definitely keep growing.”

The craft brewers of the San Diego Brewers Guild will be hosting the region’s largest craft beer festival during San Diego Beer week from Nov. 7-16. The event is expected to have more than 20,000 attendees and more than 70 participating craft breweries. Event tickets are available for purchase.

For more information visit www.sdbw.org/guild-festival/.

Originally published on August 8, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Japan has been hailed recently as the new frontier of craft beer with a new taste in brews and bites. And San Diego has a little something to do with it.

Although August is crowned National Beer Month, it’s worth mentioning the phenomenal growth over the past several years of people’s international thirst for craft brews. The Brewers Assn. reported that in 2013, export volume increased by 49 percent over the previous year, representing 282,526 barrels and an estimated $73 million in revenue. This is serious business for major beer cities like San Diego that have experienced more than 100 percent growth every year since 2011, according to Global Craft Trading.

“San Diego beers are very popular in our export portfolio,” said Andrew Balmuth, president of Long Beach, Calif.-based Global Craft Trading, an American craft beer distributor. “The popularity has to do with the style of beers being produced by those breweries, and San Diego has done a tremendous job in branding itself as a global beer city.”

The So Cal beer kingdom is known for sticking to the lighter side on its brews, lining up Belgium blends and citrus twists to its beers.

When most people think of beer, they imagine it coming straight from a glass or on tap as a golden or chocolaty liquid topped with a frosty white head before considering where it came from. In San Diego, breweries take great care in the aroma, color and flavor of their offerings, while also considering their consumers’ tastes and pushing past generic servings in cans.

Nagano Trading, the largest distributor of American craft beer in Japan, and Global Craft Trading, which focuses on nine international markets, ships mostly San Diego beers. These businesses have experience in the global thirst for something more than just mass-produced beers but also a special craft and blend. Exports include beers from Aztec Brewery, Ballast Point, Coronado Brewing Co., Mike Hess Brewing, Iron Fist Brewing, Mother Earth Brewing Co., Stone Brew and Karl Strauss to name a few.

Shawn Dewitt, co-founder and director of brewery operations at Coronado Brewing Co., spent a week in Japan on a pub-crawl through Tokyo and Yokohama, visiting places where San Diego brews were making a splash.

Dewitt’s trip included eight brewery stops on his itinerary and visits to popular bars such as Babel Bayside Kitchen, the Hangover and Takiey.

Joining Dewitt on his trip(did people from Coeda go on the entire trip with him or just one stop?) were representatives from the Coeda Brewing Co., the largest craft brewer in Japan. Dewitt and Coeda’s president, Shigeharu Asagiri, together created a beer appropriately named the “Coedonado.” The Japanese strong ale included Japanese ingredients with brown sugar and high alcohol content, tasting like a distant cousin of a Belgium IPA.

Dewitt also made a stop at Good Beer Faucets in Tokyo. “I didn’t expect to see such a passion, and it was amazing,” explained Dewitt on his experience there. Its general manager, Dede Bri, an Israeli gentleman, explained to Dewitt his cleaning regimen for the beer lines and also gave him a tour of the cold box where the brews are stored and maintained.

“Bri was so articulate on how much carbon dioxide was in the beer, and I was just blown away by his attention to detail,” Dewitt said.

At the Watering Hole in Tokyo, pub guests asked Dewitt and his crew for autographs on their beer glasses. The small crowd was interested in the San Diego brew and how it was made, sharing with Dewitt and his team that they were fans.

While beer professionals like Bri help aid Japan’s thirst for craft beer, its popularity is still in its infant stages. Brewers from San Diego like the Coronado Brewing Co. are themselves still fresh onto the scene; Coronado Brewing Co. has only been exporting beer to Japan for six years.

“Cities like Yokohama are evolving and growing,” explained Dewitt. “They’re just starting, but we’re seeing brewers from California and San Diego moving into Japan.”

Currently, IPAs and the standard San Diego brew lineup of traditional wheat beers are the most popular export. However, darker beers are still hard to come by in Japan.

“It’s tough to say what the final number will be for this year,” Dewitt said, thinking about the export percentage in beers from San Diego to Japan. “But I’d be confident to say that it’ll definitely be larger. It’ll definitely keep growing.”

The craft brewers of the San Diego Brewers Guild will be hosting the region’s largest craft beer festival during San Diego Beer week from Nov. 7-16. The event is expected to have more than 20,000 attendees and more than 70 participating craft breweries. Event tickets are available for purchase.

For more information visit www.sdbw.org/guild-festival/.

 

 

 

 

 

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