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Monday, August 10, 2015

The Beer Garden in Odori Park, Sapporo!

The summer season in Sapporo is always really enjoyable. The fact that such a huge portion of the year is spent indoors thanks to the months of heavy snowfall just make the desire to get out and enjoy being outside when you can.

And the best way, in my opinion, to do that is the beer garden that happens from mid-July to mid-August in Odori park. This year so far I've been three times, and I'll likely go once more before it ends this coming weekend. As an American, I love any chance to just drink outside in public and not be judged for having a good time with friends. It's probably the aspect about Japan I will most the most when I go back to the States! Grabbing a beer from the 7-eleven and sitting in a park eating lunch...

Anyway, the beer garden itself spans four blocks of Odori Park. Each block is home to one of Japan's most common beer brands, Suntory Premium, Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo! Honestly, there is very little difference between the three beer brands, as Japan seems to mainly enjoy producing pale lagers that all taste completely identical (oh goodness how I am looking forward to darker beers in America).

These beers are also perfect for hot summer days. Which you get in Sapporo. Because AC isn't really a thing up here because "we don't need it". Tell that to my apartment which likes to get up to 90 degrees (32 in the C). Any excuse to escape the sauna I live in is very needed.

Suntory is the least popular of the four brands, mainly because the beers are a bit more expensive. I personally like Suntory the best of the four because it has a bit more flavor, but I like being cheap more so in all the years I have been here I've never bothered going to their beer garden. Sorry!

 The most popular beer garden is easily Asahi. The block is covered in trees and just has a really cool feel. It fills up the quickest and is usually the loudest. This one is the one I enjoy going to the most, I think. Though the difficulty of finding a table makes it hard to bring larger groups unless you come at opening time!

Kirin is the third most popular and has the most interesting of the beer delivery systems: the beer tower. While the novelty of a meter tall tower of beer is nearly irresistible, the speed at which the beer warms in the heat of summer makes it a very "meh" experience once you get to the halfway mark. Or, I guess, you could just drink faster!

Sapporo Beer's garden is the one I have been to the most, two of my three visits have been spent here, and it may be my new favorite one to go because it is relatively easy to find a spot, not to mention they have upped their decoration game in the last couple of years and it now resembles a very Bavarian looking beer tent. Or at least what I picture one to look like because I've never been to one (next year??)!

The beers themselves aren't badly priced. You can get 500mL glasses for 550 yen. They also have larger sizes priced in the same value. Each area has their own version of a keg to share (like the toweres in Kirin) but I have found them to be over-priced when compared to the individual glasses (3,700 yen for 3L but 1,100 for a 1L glass). Yes, that's right. You can get a 1L glass of beer.

Even though it is called the "Handsome man" beer at the Sapporo tent I mainly see Japanese women guzzling these puppies down. Though maybe they are designed to attract handsome men? Who knows! If you find yourself in Sapporo in the middle of the Japanese summer, you definitely need to stop by the beer garden, you'll be sat at a table with the locals and they are generally really friendly. Last time I was there I was given a bunch of food by some older people seated next to us!

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