Luck of the Green?

Yesterday was a mixed day, a real up and downer. Some longing to be back in the UK and then some homebrew research on yeast which led me to a startling discovery.

Today the sun is shining and the cherry blossoms are still screaming “look at me will you!” in their very pink, not very under-stated way. The Japanese are supposed to like them for their beauty and the way they remind them of the fleeting nature of life. Here today, gone tomorrow. It’s a shame they don’t think the same about Cicadas. Very similar really when you think about it. A few days of decibel-breaking noise production, which completely defies their diminutive size, and then they are gone. This summer I shall be more contemplative when I hear them doing their ‘motorbike’ impressions.

Anyway, back to the point of today’s blog “The Luck of the Green”…Man. Yesterday, I was defiantly stating that the Green Man will not be defeated by mere legislation that states that breweries must produce a mere, trifling 60,000 litres of beer a year here in Japan. Well, with a bit more research it turns out their is indeed a way to overcome this rather irritating stipulation.

If you read a blog of mine last year, you will already know that Japan has a very curious loop-hole in it’s tax laws regarding beer. If a beer is low in Malt (or, so I thought) it is classified as ‘Happoshu‘ which is not subject to the same levels of tax. The big breweries therefore produce a drink, much like beer, but made using a kind of Malt liquer and then watered down and carbonated to be a lot like beer. Turns out that actually, as long as you put some ingredient in the beer which is not a typical ingredient of beer (i.e malt, hops, yeast and water) any beverage becomes ‘happoshu‘. “And, your point is?” I hear you say. Well, the happoshu breweries aren’t limited by the same nuisance limitations as pure beer breweries, and the necessary amount of beer production is only 10% of that demanded of standard breweries. Wow!6,000 litres annually. Now that really is much more manageable. And adding a special ingredient to beer (called ‘adjuncts’) is very much a part of brewing many types of beer and ale. No great shakes there.

My initial thoughts are to research costs and potential revenue first and then look into running a brewery part-time at first and then shift my work load over to it gradually. In short, I am a very excited, leaf-coloured homo-sapien.

Of course, there are still many obstacles in my way. I need to first hone my brewing skills and grow my own hops and malt (all part of the wider plan). Then, there is the not so small problem of finding buildings (and land), not to mention funding for the purchase and installation of equipment and the first batches of raw materials/ ingredients. There is also marketing and logistics to think of too. However, focus and persistence is needed in the here and now, which means bottling my first batch of beer and looking after my hop plants.

I’m backing on a “Slow and steady wins the race” approach. I will nurture my inner-Turtle and try not to get too carried away. However, my plans are looking more and more achievable as every day passes. A bit of tenacity, persistence and patience seems to be winning the day!


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