Way back in the dinosaur days of rock ’n’ roll (i.e., 1957), Danny & the Juniors released “At the Hop,” which zoomed—that’s with a lower-case “z,” of course—to the top of the charts and stayed there for a little while. The song describes the goings-on at an American hop—dance—of the era.
Well, you can rock it you can roll it
Do the stomp and even stroll it at the hop
When the record starts spinnin’
You chalypso [sic] when you chicken at the hop
Do the dance sensations that are sweepin’ the nation at the hop
Let’s go to the hop
Let’s go to the hop (oh baby)
Singer, Medora & White
Well, those who have been at the other kind of hop for a while, which includes most beer drinkers, know that Germany produces a large amount of high-quality hops. Some may also know that the United Kingdom, specifically the area around the city of Kent, is also a major producer, as is the United States. But hops production exists in many countries that find themselves at latitudes that are hop-friendly. Japan is one of those countries. According to Hop Growers of America, Japan had 131 acres planted with aroma hops in 2020 (https://www.usahops.org/img/blog_pdf/346.pdf). Tokyo’s fashionable Kichijoji, a neighborhood in Musashino City, is now producing some of those hops in the Tokyo Hop Project, which is run by 26K Brewery and involves students from Professor Koichi Takaishi’s seminar at Asia University, which is also located in Musashino City. Students were at the hops on harvest day, August 22, 2020, and the brewmaster at 26K, Mr. Hisao Kenmoku, was working his magic shortly thereafter, which resulted in 吉祥 2020 (named “Kissyou Ale” in English). The brew was released in the latter half of 2020.
We were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity of sampling Kissyou Ale, which has hints of apple and cotton candy on the nose, hops, apple, and a hint of cotton candy on the palate, an abv of 5%, and very light effervescence. It is slightly cloudy and golden in color. We paired it with pizza and found it went very well, indeed!
Projects such as these not only provide consumers with carefully crafted products imbued with the unique attributes of their respective regions–what the French call terroir–but empower local economies and, it is to be hoped, mitigate the negative impact of globalization. The Tokyo Hop Project, of course, is not a one-off publicity stunt. The people running it expect to be planting and harvesting for many years to come. And do you know what? We want to be at the hop, too!
Recommendation level (out of five stars):
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