/

Beer lovers to start summer with new brew

by Kai Harada

Staff Writer

For beer lovers, this weekend could be considered the official kick-off to summer — or, patio season.

The Great Japan Beer Festival, the biggest craft-beer festival in the country, starts from June 2 in Tokyo. But the capital city isn’t the only place getting in on the action, the event will later move to Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama.

The two-day festival is organized by the Japan Craft Beer Association and this year marks the event’s 15th anniversary. Visitors can attend one of three 3½-hour sessions, two of which are on the first day and one on the second day. Each session is limited to 1,500 people.

The first Japan Beer Festival was held in Tokyo in 1998 with around 100 craft beers. The number of exhibitors has increased year by year and around 21,500 people visited the event in all four cities in 2011.

Attendees can taste more than 120 craft beers from all over Japan, as well as some from overseas. Most of the Japanese beers will be sent directly from a brewery, so organizers guarantee they’ll be fresh. Brewery staff will also be on hand to serve up the drinks and answer any questions attendees might have.

Visitors can drink as much as they like once they’ve paid the entrance fee, so if you go then be sure to pace yourself.

The Great Japan Beer Festival takes place at Ebisu Garden Hall in Tokyo, on June 2 (11:30 a.m.; 4 p.m.) and June 3 (12:30 p.m.). Tickets are ¥4,500 in advance and ¥4,900 at the door. The festival will take place in the Sky Hall at Kyosera Dome in Osaka on July 14-16, the Shirotori Hall at International Congress in Nagoya on Aug. 4-5, and Osanbashi Hall in Yokohama on Sept. 15-17. For more details, visit www.beertaster.org.