This is going to be a long one because this Beer is something that needs to be given proper respect.
On Feb 25th, I was invited to Suntory Premium Malts demonstration event. There I met Mr Ohno and Mr Nakai from Suntory Head office who spoke about this amazing beer.
When I left Japan 10 years ago, Kirin and Asahi were battling it out, with the main focus being the creation of a cheaper beer. In terms of a quality beer, Asahi dominated with the Super Dry and Sapporo had Yebisu as the only premium beer at the time. One company was determined to change things not by making it cheap, but by making the best tasting beer Japan had ever had. Suntory.
They came up with Premium Malts and not only overtook Yebisu as the top premium beer status, it sold and sold and sold. The rest is history and suntory have finally decided to bring its own stuff to down under. Considering the majors capital relationships and partnerships, it was only natural that suntory was the one to do it aside from our other quality brewer, Orion.
The characteristic of PM is a deep flavour with elegant aroma. They use hops from Czech and Germany and they utilize a double decoction method for their malts and the hops are added twice before and after to provide the rich aroma and taste.
PM is only made in a few select breweries in Japan which sites have been chosen for access to superior spring water. After brewed, temperature controlled all the way to Australia. Reefer container and refrigerated trucks to our local supplier JFC.
We as restaurants have a big responsibility to serve this precious drop. Because if we serve it right, it becomes a completely different beast from the canned or bottled stuff.
At the same time, it’s so easy to mess it up and create a worse tasting beer than the bottles and cans.
In essence, we must keep the beer server and glasses hygienic, keep the gas pressure at ideal local levels, and utilize good pouring technique.
I was taught the balance of CO2 and internal keg pressure was actually more inportant than I thought. Internal temp and internal pressure must match each other. Keg’s internal gas pressure varies with the ambient temperature and is approximately as follows.
If the keg pressure is not matched with external CO2 gas, if too strong, gas seeps into the beer itself creating too sharp taste. If too weak, beer is flat.
Ohno San goes into detail about instructing us about the keg hooking up process. Set gas initially at 1. Means keg temp is equivalent of 2deg. Hold beer tube vertical. Once hooked up the internal pressure of the keg will force beer up the Tube. Also due to the added CO2 gas pressure of the system being weaker than the keg, gas will start to separate from the liquid inside the system and this is evident in the tube. you gently bring gas pressure up until bubbles stop coming up in the tube, which means the internal gas pressure is now balanced.
The purpose of the all so important Head has 5 purposes.
2. A cap to seal aroma and taste from escaping
3. A cap to seal gas from escaping
4. A cap to reduce oxidization
5. Acts as a Natural esky to keep icy cold temperature
Suntory have only released the 10ltr kegs. This is to make sure that the beer is consumed in a few days. In an industry that pursues efficiency and economics more than anything, this is very impressive. As you know, Aussie industry standard keg size is 50ltrs.
The beer must be poured gently in the beginning to 70% and then finished off with a creamy head for the remaining 30%.
The glassware must be hand washed to keep clean, the servers must be cleaned daily, the kegs must be stored at stable conditions most importantly not stir it up to create unnecessary internal pressure. In this sense, once arriving our shop, the kegs are left at room temperature next to the server ready to be hooked up without moving it.
Ohno San says that Suntory creates good beer but it is up to the restaurants and bars to make it absolutely awesome beer. And even in Japan, sadly he only sees 10% of the shops that serve PM serving it at levels he is happy with.
Angel rings. When you drink a well poured PM, you will see the bubbles stick to the internal of the glass in rings, one ring per sip.
Smoky bubbles. The less bubbles from the bottom the better but the tiny layer of bubbles directly underneath the creamy head is responsible for rejuvenating the creamy head. Just by tilting the glass and drinking it, the smokey bubbles recreates another layer of creamy head.
Glass or mug. We were given the choice of glass or mug. Both are 380ml capacity and honestly, from a business perspective, it looks bigger and more manly and appealing in a mug so I think you will see more shops opt for the mug. But I took Ohno san’s advice in the curved shape enhancing the aroma so I have employed the glass for Taro’s.
Suntory Premium Malts Nama will be available at our city shop from tomorrow March 17th. The Ascot shop is on the waiting list for the next server to arrive, shouldn’t be too long.