Today we are introducing the first of two series that are not entirely new but are rather the “formalising” of two lines of beers that were previously shoehorned into our “Freedom” series last year, but which we felt were deserving of their own proper stage.
The first, which we will introduce today, is “Shintenchi”, or New Frontier in English. Lagers are, for us, our new frontier. This might sound odd at first, given that in Japan typically “beer” means a 5% light lager in most settings. Indeed, we shunned this style for many years. Not because we hated lagers. On the contrary, we enjoyed going for an easy drinking and refreshing lager at the end of a hard day as much as anyone. It was more because we didn’t see much point. More than 99% of beer in Japan was mass produced lager and within craft beer there were a number of players who made consistent and high quality lagers.
This changed a couple of years back, though. Not that our love of American and Belgian styles had waned, but the recognition of the regularity in which we chose to go for a lager, and the challenge of making one well, became more and more appealing. We also saw that more and more craft breweries in America were going back to this style, giving drinkers the opportunity to enjoy traditionally hopped lagers far more reminiscent of what one might hope to enjoy in Germany or the Czech Republic than the extra light mass produced lagers that dominated the beer scene in America.
At first we went light and simple but have since released a number of different beers under the New Frontier name, exploring different lager yeast varieties, hops and malts. While starkly different from ales, lagers can be hugely varied, and so we wanted to continue exploring this further.
Through this year and beyond, we hope to bring forward a number of different styles loosely termed within the word “lager”. Some can be savoured for their malt, some for the balance of the crispness from the finish or the balanced elegance that the hop character brings. They won’t be the most heavy hitting of our beers in terms of ABV or juicy punch but they will be something we want to enjoy at the end of a hard day while also being very different to what you’ll find on the shelf of your local convenience store or a nearby beer vending machine. Prost!
Our introduction of Pilgrim's Respite, our celebration of the saison style, will be shared next week.