We recently talked about our efforts to redefine our purpose and more effectively share our goals for this year and beyond. We recently talked about our revisiting of our year-round “core” series and today we would like to share a little about our thoughts on beer, how they define the rest of our lineup, and the other series that we plan to showcase going forward as a result.
Getting Our Thoughts Across
We came up with our slogan “mazu wa biiru”, roughly translated as “everything starts with the beer”, because we strongly disapproved of the phrase “toriaezu biiru” (translated kindly as “a beer to start with” but actually also a way of saying “I don’t care enough to think of what I wanted to drink for now, so just give me a beer”). It epitomises everything that we disagree with about how beer has often been treated in Japan as well as many countries. Beer, the statement implies, is all the same, it is light tasting, easy to throw back, doesn’t require thinking about, and is easy to forget about. The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Beer is, in our opinion, the most varied of all alcoholic beverages and, while it can be enjoyable as an easy-to-throw-back drink, beers can be perfect accompaniments for an immense variety of food, and can be of the utmost complexity.
We started this company with a purpose to change this mentality, and so decided to turn that notion on its head by making the statement that everything we do should start with beer as the focal point; that the quality of the beer should never be compromised, and thus serving as a reminder of why we do what we do. If the beer is ever compromised for the sake of marketing, convenience or an easy sale, we have clearly gone off track.
Mind you, this is different than saying that nothing but the beer matters. If you visited a fine kaiseki restaurant, for example, the quality of the food would be without question key to your enjoyment. However, it will almost certainly be presented on carefully selected bowls, dishes and plates. The restaurant will be designed and decorated in a way fitting with the ambiance and in a way that the chef or the waiters can present the food to you at the right level, and in a very deliberate way. Once put in front of you, you will most likely be informed of what went into the dish, how it was prepared, and what the combination of flavours was meant to represent.
Why? If it tastes good, can’t we all make up our own mind??
While the flavour is of course key, the setting and presentation are essential to the customer’s understanding, which in turn supports their own enjoyment of what the chef has created. For the same reason a fine restaurant will not simply write “fish”, “steak” and leave it at that, we made a very conscious decision when we started that we would not release a beer named simply “lager”, “IPA” or “stout. We were, in fact, reluctant to share the style at all to begin with. Style names have the advantage of giving you a sense of what to expect but it is a shortcut and no more adequate than doing the equivalent with a dish on a restaurant menu and, for that reason, we wanted our beer names to conjure something else. We wanted to give the customer a sense of our statement, our intention, and what to expect from the beer. We didn’t want to do this by simply using a straightforward keyword that brings with it the baggage of expectation associated with a style. Our beers weren’t created to simply follow an expectation, and therefore might not fit within the parameters of what a style name might lead people to expect. Our names were create to provide a context and either offer some background or, even better, to encourage the drinker to ask the barman, look at the bottle, or read our website to understand more about what we were trying to do.
But what connects our products? Why do we make a saison, a Belgian IPA and a stout year-round? We covered this in our recent blog post on our year-round beers. They are connected and were the beers that we wanted to make and drink throughout the year, and so a series belongs to them.
What about our other beers, however? We made a seasonal series called "Kimagure" (on a whim) with a specific and defined concept of a US inspired IPA that fits the season in which it is released, and we also make our “Nakama” (friendship) collab series which revolves around collaborations we make, in line with our core values of exploration and engagement. Outside of those, however, we have a huge bucket which we call “gentei” or “limited release”, and we release 2-4 of these per month. What are we trying to do with them? Why do we churn them out at such a pace? Why is there a beer called "Mariko" and another called "Mario" that clearly fit together and then a sour, a 9% stout and an obscure German style that apparently have no connection? Are Kyoto Brewing just churning out anything they feel like? Why are they doing so?
We have felt for some time now that “Limited Release” is not a 'series' but rather acts as a group of different series and have decided that this is the year where we provide context and make an attempt to get this message across more clearly. As a result, we have decided to share the purpose of our limited release beers more clearly through different series. In addition to our Core Series, Kimagure Series and Nakama Series, we have 5 more series this year which we look forward to sharing.
In our next post, we will talk about our first “new” collection for 2021