(Naha, Okinawa, Japan)
At the beginning of August, we spent a week in Japan for our summer vacation. Disclaimer and short rant: I didn’t love Tokyo (except for the markets) and travel bloggers are full of s*! Case in point- every travel site you read up on for some recommendations says that there are vending machines on every corner and “you can buy anything”. Granted, there are vending machines everywhere, but we only saw one the whole week that had some weird trinkets and one with beer, other than the normal snacks, soda, and water. That being said, Okinawa pleasantly BLEW US AWAY! The people of Okinawa are friendly, warm, and welcoming, they don’t consider themselves Japanese (I love learning things google doesn’t tell you), their food is incredible, and the weather?… Oh, the weather!
We did some research and had a brewery on our list for the next day, but as we were strolling through the old streets of Naha after grabbing a bite in the market we just randomly stumbled past one. Nothing better than surprise breweries! Enter Ukushima Brewing: They’ve only been open a little over a year and they’re cranking out some great brews.
Starting out with the Ukishima Golden 107 was an interesting surprise. 107 stands for how many IBUs they pack into this quaint little ale! When you think golden ale you think crisp, clean, and easy-drinking, but Ukishima expertly flipped the script on conventional knowledge. It wasn’t my favorite, but my hat’s off for the attempt and if you’re looking for a nice throat punch; Golden 107’s your man.
Next up was Ukishima IPA. I’m not sure which hops were used, but it was a well-balanced and delicate blend. I’ve missed certain styles from the US during our time in Asia, but one constant has been solid IPAs. Ukishima’s is no different: Quality ingredients and freshness are obvious factors in this very well done brew.
Long Summer is a rare occurrence in Asian countries in the form of a saison. Being someone who usually really enjoys the style I was a little underwhelmed as it was a bit lacking in the flavor department. That being said- it was super smooth! I could crush a couple dozen of these and be good to go.
Finally, we ordered a full poor of the Strawberry Stout. Many times I feel like a fruit stout has way more aroma than it has a right to as the flavor behind it is a complete bust. Ukishima did a nice job binging subtly sweet and floral strawberry notes right to the front of the tongue followed by barely-present, yet still silky smooth, cocoa.
We had some great bar snacks, a solid flight throughout, and a great interaction with the friendly staff and atmosphere. All in all, I give Ukishima Brewing an 8.9 out of 10.