Benjamin Falck (written by Paul)Benjamin (aka Ben) hails from Wales, a country to the West of England that is known for its rugged hills and resplendent coastlines… and little else that can be mentioned here. As such, Ben took to beer at quite an unripened age. His first beer was a Guinness, a non-Welsh beer of reputable Irish fame. His go-to pint was Adnams ESB, another non-Welsh beer produced on the opposite side of the UK in Eastern England. Despite his proclivity for non-Welsh products, he'll talk your ear off should he be mistaken for anything other than Welsh. To Further add to the irony, once he finished his studies (at an English university), he has since resided within Japan, a country located on the opposite side of the world.
At any rate, Ben's first touchdown on Japanese soil happened while he was an exchange student of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. He was so enthralled by Japan that he decided to return again after university. As fate would have it, instead of moving to a big city, Ben was requested to move to a remote fishing village along the Japan Sea in Northern Aomori Prefecture. It was during this time that he befriended Chris and Paul and many-a-night was spent with microphone in one hand and all-you-can-drink macro-lager beer in the other.
After a two-year stint, Ben once again packed his bags and set down to Tokyo. It was during this time that he became acquainted with better crafted offerings. While living in Aomori, Ben took a liking to snowboarding and so he continued to make frequent trips to ski hills in the Nagano region, a place also known for many jibi-ru and craft beer breweries. To this day, he still credits Shiga Kogen House IPA as being his first memorable American style IPA that made him appreciate the more hop-forward brews out there. From there on, his appreciation of craft beer only escalated and Ben (along with Paul) visited many craft beer pubs across Japan.
Chris Hainge (written by Ben)Legend has it that our head brewer, Chris, was actually created in an experiment with a new strain of beer yeast in a lab in Belgium. This is, of course, a complete fabrication! Chris was actually created in Springfield, Virginia, in the US of A. The first beer that Chris ever tasted was not from the US or Belgium (the two biggest influences on Chris’s brewing style) but was the famous Irish stout, Guinness. Fittingly, perhaps, he had it back in 2001 (when he was over 20, of course!) whilst he was on a year study abroad in Japan.
Chris's interest in beer increased during his time at university, when he tried his first German beer, Paulaner Hefeweizen which then spurred him to pick up a job in an Irish pub where he was treated to 2 free pints at the end of his shift. He always went for Harpoon IPA and his addiction to hops stemmed from there. Two other beers that had a huge influence on Chris were Saison Dupont (from which his interest and love in saison beers developed) and Girardin Gueuze, which demonstrated to Chris how different the flavors in beer really could be.
Chris started to pursue his interest in becoming a brewer, as most brewers do, at home. After turning his and his very accommodating girlfriend's (now accommodating wife's) home into a lab for a beer obsessive and pushing his limits there, he took the plunge and went over to study brewing formally on the American Brewers Guild program, where he also had the opportunity to spend some time working on an internship at Port Brewing/Lost Abbey, and where he had the chance to brew both American and Belgian styles of beer.
Chris's next work in a full-scale brewery was at Shiga Kogen, where he was developed by head brewer Eigo Sato and his talented team of brewers. Chris has now been living in Kyoto for 7 years, where he is passionate about growing this artisanal industry in the most artisanal of cities.
Paul Speed (written by Chris)Paul, our house Canadian, didn't always have an interest in craft beer, which is not surprising, really, considering that his first beer was British Columbia’s Kokanee lager. While he did try his first craft beer, KLB Rasberry, by Toronto's Amsterdam Brewery, before moving to Japan, he was not exposed to the full potential of beer until well into his time here.
Paul moved to Japan in 2004, which is when we met on the JET Program in Aomori, Japan. If anyone would have told me that he and I (along with Ben who came the following year) would be starting a brewery together in Kyoto in 11 years’ time, I think the beer in my mouth would have shot out all over them.
Paul’s interest in craft beer, and his drinking habits, soon changed after he moved to Tokyo and was exposed to a much wider variety of styles. He loves to experience new flavors, and cites Russian River’s Supplication (which was his first sour) and Mikkeller/Anchorage’s Invasion Farmhouse IPA as two beers that left a huge impression on him, along with my homebrewed IPA. He tells me it was that beer which inspired him to commit to career suicide in the finance world to pursue his new love. Three of Paul’s current favorite beers are Saison DuPont (which the three of us would happily drink all day), Cantillon’s 100% Lambio Bio Gueuze and the Black Butte Porter by Deschuttes.
He mainly blames me for his discovery of craft beer and partially blames me for convincing him to start a brewery, which I suppose is deserved. After all, without my influence he would still be working long hours at a stable and high paying job with Nomura Securities instead of working much longer hours for much less pay at Kyoto Brewing Company… but hey, that’s what friends are for, right!?