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I’m going to introduce you to a unique earthenware beer mug handmade in the Bizen area of Okayama, Japan.
01:05 What is Bizen?
02:07 Why use a beer mug?
02:50 Beer glass types
04:17 Beer mug types
04:53 Why beer mugs are the best
05:25 Why the Bizen beer mug?
Bizen Beer Mug
Add a one-of-a-kind Bizen beer mug to your collection now.
Available exclusively from The Drinking Buddy Shop.
This is The Drinking Buddy Show, where we explore food, craft beverage pairings, and the entrepreneurs and taste makers behind them.
I’m Frank, founder of Drinking Buddy Artisan Snacks, and on today’s bonus show, I’m going to introduce you to a unique earthenware beer mug that your buddies definitely don’t have.
In episode 23, I chatted with Rocky Yoneyama about his multiple businesses, including Anaheim’s Bizen Beer Bar. He briefly mentioned their unique, handmade Bizen beer mugs made only in Okayama, Japan.
What is Bizen?
It’s a unique style of pottery developed during the Kamakura period, which was about 800 years ago. This is when the feudal government of the samurai started to rise. Unlike the earlier aristocratic Heian period, this utilitarian warrior society preferred rougher, heavier, more durable pottery that better served their daily life. The Bizen area of what is now Okayama prefecture started making pieces featuring reddish and brownish surfaces dotted with melted ash. Within a few centuries, Bizen became the most popular ceramic in Japan. Famed samurai Lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi loved it for its superior clay, durability, and ability to preserve clean water.
How is it made?
Bizen ware is placed in a kiln unglazed and fired for 8 to 20 days using pine wood, giving it a pine ash glaze and beautifully subdued colors. Like fine leather, Bizen ware ages beautifully, improving in color and texture each time its handled.
And it makes for incredible beer mugs.
But why would you drink out of a beer mug? Don’t you just use a pint glass?
What you usually get at an American restaurant is actually a part of a Boston Shaker set meant for cocktails. The typical shaker glass is cheap, durable, easy to clean, and stackable, making it the most practical and cost-efficient option for bar and restaurant owners. That’s why they serve anything from water and ice tea to draft beer and cocktails in them.
But they definitely aren’t the best option for maximizing the taste and aroma of beer.
Now, there are literally dozens of beer glass types out there, so I’m just going to introduce three of the families – pints, pilsners, and stemmed glasses.
Any restaurant serious about its beer will probably have a nonic Pint glass. Also known as an English Pub glass, it features a slight bulge at the top that helps capture and accentuate the flavors and aromatics of the beer.
Next is the pilsner glass. Its extra tall and slightly tapers to the base, accentuating the clarity of the beer, and maintaining a frothy head. It also tapers slightly at the top to maintain some of the nose.
Another variation is the weizen glass with a curved tapering towards the base, reminiscent of an hourglass. The width at the top brings out the aroma of wheat beers, and leaves room for a thick, fluffy head.
Speaking of German glasses, you might come across the tall, slender stange from Cologne. Often seen at Oktoberfest, they come by the half a dozen or so in a carrier called a kranz. They hold only about 6 oz each and are preferred for Kolsch, as they support the delicate aroma and light carbonation, and are perfect for quick and easy drinking.
Now, for Belgian beers, a snifter or tulip glass with a heavy base, short stem, and tapered, tear drop shape has been the choice since Trappist monks began brewing. The bulbous shape enhances the sweetness, captures the head, and allows for the drinker to swirl the beer, bringing out all the amazing notes in the nose.
Last but not least is the munique, a stemmed, bulbous glass with a more delicate, elongated taper than the tulip. It provides the benefits of a tulip, while also being a great option for dark lagers and IPAs.
But what about mugs? Why would you use them?
The beer mug family includes the tankard, krug, and stein. Tankards were originally made of wood, then silver or pewter, and often had a hinged lid, up until the 19th century. Modern ones are often made of glass and are perfect for chilling in the fridge before pouring a stout or porter. The krug is smaller and rounder, and does well with English and German lagers. The third mug is the often decorative stein, most commonly made of pewter and traditionally featuring a lid. The lid was developed in the middle ages to keep pests that caused Bubonic Plague out of the beer. This fell out of fashion by the 20th century.
So why would you use a mug over other drinkware? Here are four reasons.
First, mugs or steins have thick walls that keep the beer cold. And if they have a handle, your body heat is kept away from your beverage. You can chill the mug in the fridge to keep your beer chilled even longer.
Second, a beer mug is much sturdier than a glass, and gives a heftier, solid feeling when held.
Third, you get an amazing drinking experience, with enhanced flavor and aroma.
And fourth, a beer mug is a long-lasting conversation piece you can show off to your drinking buddies for years.
So why the Bizen Beer Mug?
There really is nothing quite like it. Bizen Beer Mugs combine the incomparable beauty of Bizen ware with the enhanced aroma and flavor provided by a mug. If you’re serious about your beer, then you’re serious about your drinkware, and these ones are seriously cool.
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Bizen Beer Mugs are available in extremely limited numbers at www.thedrinkingbuddyshop.com, and make an amazing gift for the craft beer fan in your life. Get yours now before we quickly sell out.
Take care, and drink well!