Monday, 10 March 2014

Review: Asahi Premium

I am not a great fan of Asahi Super Dry. It is a very popular beer here in Japan but if I have a choice of which bog standard lager to drink I usually go for Kirin.

However, I found myself in a Umeda Station konbini one evening looking for a can of beer to drink with my evening meal and my eyes were drawn to a golden can of Asahi Premium. The label claimed 6% ABV instead of the usual 5% for Super Dry. I handed over my hard earned yen and headed home with one.

The first thing you will notice is the texture of the can. Never mind the beer this is definitely a premium beer can. After stroking the can for a few minutes I opened it and poured some beer carelessly into my glass.

This is a gassy beer with a reasonably attractive, foamy top. The colour is noticeably deeper than Super Dry. The flavour is stronger too but not in a good way. The word which springs to mind is "sherbet".

Rating: 2/5. If you like Super Dry you might enjoy this.

Vertical Taskbar

Because modern laptop screens are widescreen format having the Windows taskbar on the bottom wastes a lot of screen space. It makes more sense to have it on the side freeing up more vertical space for your programs. But it looks weird, right?

I decided to experiment and see if putting the taskbar on the right for month would be a distraction. After four days I stopped noticing the change completely...

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Neil Kinnock Predicts 21st Century British Life In 1983.

If Margaret Thatcher is re-elected as prime minister on Thursday, I warn you.

I warn you that you will have pain – when healing and relief depend upon payment.

I warn you that you will have ignorance – when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right.

I warn you that you will have poverty – when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay.

I warn you that you will be cold – when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford.

I warn you that you must not expect work – when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies.

I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light.

I warn you that you will be quiet – when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient.

I warn you that you will have defence of a sort – with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding.

I warn you that you will be home-bound – when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up.

I warn you that you will borrow less – when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday
- I warn you not to be ordinary
- I warn you not to be young
- I warn you not to fall ill
- I warn you not to get old.

Neil Kinnock 1983

Monday, 5 August 2013

Review: Suntory Rich Malt

Today's beer is brewed by the world famous Suntory. There has been a festival close to my local railway station for the last two days and I noticed many people holding cans of Rich Malt as I walked past.

At only Y118 for a 350ml can this 5% happoshu is well into the budget end of the market.

It fills the glass with a toxic yellow glow and features large bubbles creating a washing up liquid head that soon vanishes. The flavour is bland with a nasty, bitter aftertaste. It looks like a cheap beer and it tastes worse than it looks.

Rating 1/5.  I liked the nice blue and gold can and I would rather drink this than Kirin Deluxe.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Miko Kagura at Iwashizu Jinja

Last night a festival was held at Iwashizu Jinja. This is the shrine local to my home where Kayoko and I held our marriage ceremony.

I was working in Osaka until 7pm so we had very little time after dinner to catch the end of the festival. It was a pleasant, cool evening and as we walked quickly towards the shrine we heard drumming in the distance and started running to make sure we were in time.

We quickly walked around the group of drummers and entered inside of the shrine. The last time we were there was for our marriage ceremony last October. Inside were two musicians - flute and drum - and a young, pretty miko wearing a beautiful red and white costume. Miko are "shrine maidens" - originally shamanesses but now considered priestesses in the service of the shrine.

As the musicians played the miko performed a wonderful, moving dance using a ceremonial knife. Kayoko and I were the only people inside with them. It was a very moving experience.

As we left we met the kind priestess who had conducted our marriage ceremony for us and stopped for a while to talk.

I would have loved to take a photograph of the miko but it did not seem appropriate! Below is a picture I found on the internet.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Review: Yona Yona Ale (よなよな エール)

My favourite place to buy beer and wine here in Japan is the RaKuIChi "World Liquour System". They feature a great range with prices below what I usually see in the nearby supermarkets. On my last trip there to pick up a 6 pack of my everyday happoshu I spotted this little gem.

Yona Yona Ale (よなよな エール) from the YoHo Brewing Company is a top fermented beer with an ABV of 5.5% retailing at Y260 for a 350ml can. It had an attractive golden brown colour with a rich creamy head. Carbonation was as good as you can expect from a quality beer served from a can.

The aroma was rich and hoppy and the beer was delicious to drink with a pleasing, mildly acidic aftertaste. Too rich to be a session beer it was a perfect pre-dinner drink on a steamy Saturday evening.

Rating 4/5. I might have given it 5 if it had come in a bigger can...

Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: Kirin Deluxe

In the UK I was known to enjoy the occasional high strength lager (HSL). King of the HSLs is the famous Carlsberg Special Brew (CSB or "Brew"). This 9% ABV beast was famously brewed to commemorate a visit to Denmark made by Winston Churchill in 1950. One 500ml can of CSB  is enough to provide a relaxing and entertaining evening.  Two cans is like a small holiday from reality. Three or more...

It is probably for the best that "Brew" seems not to be available here in Japan but that does leave me with the problem of how to provide for those short bursts of icy refreshment on hot summer nights.

In a convenience store in JR Umeda Station - which I pass through each day on my way to work - my attention was caught by a gleaming golden can chilling in the beer section. Kirin Deluxe promised a respectable 6% ABV experience from one of the major Japanese breweries. Could this be what I was looking for?

My old friend James, himself partial to a glass of "Brew", once described the sherbet-like Tennant's Super as a beer that even derelicts on the street would not wish to be seen drinking. Kirin Deluxe is, I feel, even worse. It truly is a drink that should not exist.

Poured into a pint glass after a long rest in the fridge it has a rich golden colour and a frothy white head. The bubbles are large but this is cheap, canned lager so this is no more than can be expected. So far so good. How does it taste? Remarkably unlike beer. No rich, malty base. No refreshing hoppy overtones. Just a vaguely sweet chemical flavour. For such a strong drink I was surprised at how little refreshment or satisfaction I obtained from drinking it.

Trying this for yourself is the only way to truly understand how awful it is but please, do not do so. It will only encourage them to brew more. I would have liked to illustrate this article with a photograph of the beer itself in a glass but to do that I would have had to buy another can. This I am not prepared to do.

In summary, this beer does not need to exist. I will not be buying it again. You shouldn't either.

Rating: 0/5