We had made our decision to go back to Japan and I was in my car on my way back to the Primary School where I worked, when on the radio a guest was talking about the process of brewing beer at home. As a student I had made my own beer many times, but it always had that yeasty, ‘not really beer-like’ taste. However this speaker, James Morton, spoke of how you could make world-class beer, of many types, with almost endless variation at home for about 15p a pint! Needless to say, he had my complete and undivided attention.
This fired my imagination. It fitted perfectly. I love real ale and always have done. From as soon as we could legally drink, I used to drag my friends to beer festivals. I have always been searching for a business idea that I could explore in Japan. One in which I could make full use of my English-ness as a marketing asset. With this idea I could start Micro, in fact, I think I will call what I am going to embark on ‘Nano’, because let’s face it 5 litres of beer isn’t even ‘Micro’.
I could work full-time teaching English, as the vast majority of English speaking foreigners in Japan do, and work on this idea as a hobby at first. There s very little outlay to begin with and see where the journey takes me. At the very least I will be able to enjoy real ale at home at a fraction of the price I would pay in a bar, or from a can at the local convenience store for that matter. I will of course occasionally indulge and may review my experiences here too.
Anyway, back to James Morton. I got home and listened to his slot on catch-up radio. Next, I bought his book ‘Brew’ and devoured the whole thing. The book goes into great detail, some of it over my head for now, about how to use inexpensive equipment to make decent beer. I love all the intricacies and Science and am hooked. So a ‘Thank you’ to James Morton. Here is his book, in case you are interested.
Why bother with growing hops and malt? Well, they are essential to make beer and are difficult to come by (or are expensive) here. The climate however is excellent for growing a whole range of plants. With my own hops and malt I may be able to eventually market a genuinely local product.If anyone lives in Zones 9-11 of the American climate zones (which I believe would include Florida) please get in touch, as you will be facing similar challenges to myself. I will be blogging on this aspect too.
Am I worried about people copying this wonderful idea? No. It isn’t exactly new, there is at least one other successful Micro-brewery in Japan run by a Westerner and it is going to be such a gruelling challenge that most will not even bother embarking on it in the first place. So, am I mad, or at the very least a fool? Possibly. I can certainly tell you that I am tenacious and that when I convince myself that something is worthwhile I will go where ‘Eagles dare to tread’ to achieve my goals. Hence my ‘No challenge is insurmountable’ line on this website.