Hello. My name is Brittany and I’m an American Ticker. What’s a ticker you ask? In Britain there is a hobby called “ticking” where a beer connoisseur tries as many beers as possible and then “ticks” it off their list. This was my hobby before I even knew what ticking was. In other words I’m a beer geek (not a snob, because I don’t say no to any beer). I was born and raised and still live in Beervana, also known as Portland, Oregon. The perfect place to feed my beer ticking addiction. But more (much more) on that later.
This blog will be about my beer ticking experiences and I’ll post about good places to sample lots of beer. I’m not the type of person who tastes beer like winos taste wine (but who knows, I might be later on), so I won’t talk about a particular beer having a fruity nose (smell) or oak-y overtones or how nice of a head a beer has or what kind of glass a beer should be served in (I know it’s best to drink a good beer from a glass, but gimme the can/bottle, I don’t really care). I’m about if a beer is drinkable. I may label a beer sip-able or one that you could drink all night long. I don’t really like boring adjunct macro lagers (but I do drink them when there’s no other choice, my go-to being PBR), I like beers with creativity. Hopefully I can sell you on a good beer based on my opinion, or at least entertain you with my beer-having antics.
My hobby (and obsession) started in my second year living in Akita City, Japan. I always marveled at how many different brands and kinds of beer were available in Nippon, even though I figured they all tasted the same, save for the infrequent craft beers that are not very popular. So I decided one night, stopping in at the conbini (convenience store) on my way to a friend’s place to pass away another dull Saturday night in a small city with very little night life, to get one can of all the variations of Asahi beer. This is all I could find at that one conbini that night (see picture to the left). Later I would find more Asahi to try as my collection and knowledge continued to grow. And honestly, they really did all taste the same. Granted I didn’t have the palate then to discern the different flavors that I do now. But really, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between these bland adjunct rice lagers.
The next weekend I decided to tackle Kirin. I found a lot more Kirin than I did Asahi (I have another picture with nine more cans of Kirin in addition to these ten in the picture below), which I found interesting since, in my opinion, Asahi is more popular in Japan. Maybe Kirin has to try harder to keep up, hence all the different kinds. After Kirin I tried Suntory (“for good times, make it Suntory times” –Lost in Translation), then Sapporo and Yebisu, and then I started hunting for lesser know beers. Surprisingly Akita City has a brewery called Aqula * Brauhaus Akita, there’s also another brewery in Tazawa, Akita Prefecture, and one in nearby Iwate Prefecture, so I did get to sample some micro-brews. I’m sure with more time and research I could have found more, but unfortunately I started this hobby too close to leaving Japan.
I wrote down all the beers I tried, so I would remember which ones I’ve tried. My friends tried to get me to do more, like take notes or star the ones I liked the best. But at this time it was all too overwhelming and all the beers tasted the same to me, so I didn’t.
One of my best memories from Japan was my visit to Sapporo City in Hokkaido for the annual Snow Festival. A whole group of us went up to Sapporo and we traveled via ferry, sleeping on the floor (duh, it’s Japan!) of the boat over night and arriving the next morning (we had fresh snow crab and uni [sea urchin] for breakfast at a fish market, yum!). Of course the festival was amazing with ginormous snow sculptures in the shapes of buildings and animals, glistening ice carvings including a walk-through Bailey’s Ice Bar, and enchanting little snow sculptures designed by people from around the world (including one from Portland, Oregon, holla!). But my favorite part about this adventure was visiting the Sapporo Brewery. Really, they don’t brew the beer here any more 😦 but there was a wonderful museum and fabulous restaurant with tabehodai (all you can eat) where you grill your own meat and veggies right at your table called Genghis Khan and partake in nomihodai (all you can drink). At the end of the beer museum tour you can try samples of Sapporo beer, and of course i did! Just be careful, if you decide to visit the Sapporo Brewery and do some beer tasting and nomihodai that you go into the gift shop BEFORE said activities. I ended up leaving Sapporo with some odd souvenirs from the brewery. Oops! I had a blast.
I hope you enjoy my blog, or if it’s not your thing, pass it along to someone who might enjoy it. Please send me feedback, but don’t be an asshole. Thank you to my boyfriend, my family, and my friends for putting up with my crazy hobby and encouraging me to finally write about my nerdyness.
-Brittany, an American Ticker