The Masaji Beer Project: Honoring a pioneer in Japan’s craft beer world

Masaji Ohshita of Minoh Beer in May 2012
Masaji Ohshita pours a beer for a guest outside the Minoh Brewery in Osaka in May 2012 (photo by Dan Traylor).

The sudden death last December of Masaji Ohshita, who founded Osaka’s Minoh Beer (A.J.I. Beer Inc), shocked Japan’s small but passionate craft beer world. To honor Ohshita, the craft beer community got creative, launching the Masaji Beer Project. Including Minoh itself (Oshita’s daughter Kaori is the brewmaster), 11 breweries created a special beer to honor the beloved shacho.

The breweries from across Japan were free to brew any style for the project. The beers first went on sale and were featured at events in Osaka and Tokyo in early March.

Masaji the Great coaster
The Masaji The Great coaster

Hokkaido’s own North Island Beer was among the participating breweries, releasing the MPA — or  the Masaji Pale Ale. Other offerings from around the country have been on tap at times at Sapporo craft beer bars. But this Saturday at Beer Bar North Island, a small bar operated by the brewery, six of the project’s beers will be on tap. So why not honor a pioneer in Japan’s still-young craft beer scene by tasting a few creations in his honor?

The event (details in Japanese can be found on North Island’s blog) runs from 12:00 to 6:00 this Saturday (April 13). During the event, the bar won’t be offering food, but customers can bring in their own. After 6:00 the bar returns to normal operations, but I imagine if any special beers are left over they will still be available for purchase (I won’t be able to go for the main event, but I may stop by to see what’s still available).

You can read more about Minoh Beer around the web, including one article published last year in Kansai Scene by yours truly. In reporting that article, I met Ohshita as he hosted an annual party at the brewery bringing family friends to enjoy beer and barbecue. In between helping customers who trickled in to buy bottles from the small shop at the brewery entrance, he poured beer for friends and even found time to answer some of my questions. He was serious, kind and welcoming.

For more information:

On the Japan Beer Times website, publisher Ry Beville wrote a moving memorial article. The Japan Beer Times also gave a more detailed look at the Masaji Beer Project. A feature on Minoh appeared in the Japan Beer Times in May 2012.

Beer Bar North Island
中央区南2条東1丁目 M’s二条横丁2F
Sapporo, Chuo-ku, Minami 2-jyo, Higashi 1-chome M’s 2-jyo yokocho 2F




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