Japan’s official capital has changed locations many times through history, as this informative and educational video makes clear. But for centuries Osaka has held the crown as Japan’s centre of commerce. With all those traders doing all those deals, you’d expect there to be a multitude of bars in which to celebrate…and you’d be absolutely correct. Which is why I popped into two.
Dotonbori Brewery, Alt 5.0%
My first stop is a craft brewery in Osaka’s neon-illuminated party district, Dotonbori. There, amongst the street food vendors and gawping tourists, you might eventually stumble across a dull, officious building and figure out the tortuous route to the bar in the lower basement.
The Alt is a cloudy, dark amber with a cream-coloured head. The aroma is light and fresh, with hints of mint nestled with butter, peach and marmalade. The peach comes through strongest on the palate, with a slight, warm alcoholic edge. Alt rounds off with a dry, apple cider finish.
Dotonbori’s Alt is fine, but nothing special. I have higher hopes for my next venue. 2/5
Kyoto Brewing, Nagori Yuki 5.0%
A few streets away from Dotonbori’s basement bar is a far more welcoming venue: the appropriately named Craft Beer GULP. The beer menu here is large and changes often. My honeymooning friends popped in the night after me and discovered an almost entirely different offering.
The high wheat content really shows here, with a very cloudy, yellow appearance. There’s more to follow on the nose, with a wheaty, sweet aroma, not unlike sniffing bread flour. On the palate there’s a brief flash of lemon, orange, then a rush of sticky, sweet wheat with more of the same to finish.
Perhaps my mouth has been scarred by too many molten hot takoyaki, but I’m not getting any flavour from this other than the wheat. Disappointing. 1/5
Isekadoya Beer, Pale Ale 5.5%
This pale ale is amber and clear, with a milky head that swiftly dissipates. The aroma here is delightful: a delicately balanced blend of orange, grapefruit, and cinnamon. Bitterness hits the palate first, but it sweetens on the way down, with strawberry sweetness lingering on the finish. There’s a touch of cedar in there somewhere, perhaps, though not as much as if I’d drunk the beer from a wooden box.
A highly enjoyable beer. 4/5
Industrial Arts Brewing x Far Yeast Brewing, See Translation 7.0%
I know, I know, I didn’t come all this way to Japan to drink American beer. In fairness, it is a collab, and when I saw others at the bar drinking juice I had to check it out for myself. And when I heard it’s hopped with the craft brewer’s new darling, Strata, I couldn’t resist.
See Translation is the solid orangey yellow characteristic of New England IPAs. As you’d expect, it absolutely reeks of orange and pineapple.
Sweet pineapple juice dominates the flavour profile, with only the briefest suggestion of bitterness before orange joins the party. There’s a touch of basil, perhaps, and more orange on the finish.
This is a proper juice box. Perhaps a little simplistic, but pretty enjoyable all the same. 3/5