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Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Tap Handle #609: Kyodo Shoji Koedo - Coedo Ruri Premium Pilsner

Tap size:  12"
Rarity:  50 or less, import
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

This gorgeous tap from Coedo oozes with style and has some very cool and unusual features. A woman wears a black kimono with the name of the brewery not only in recessed letters down the side, but also in a jumble of characters pooled around the base. The kimono is tied in back with an elaborate bow. The woman's hair is balled up in the back and she holds a fan in her hand. The hat, however, is the most unique feature. The hat is screwed in to the top of the woman's head; it bears the name of the beer and is colored with the hue that the beer is named after. This makes changing the beer a breeze - you simply unscrew the hat topper and screw in a different one. Given the choice of toppers, I picked the bluish-purple Ruri to give the tap a bold splash of color. The only downside to the tap is that the black tends to show particles from the packing material, and the semi-gloss finish is highly reflective when taking photos. These Coedo taps appear on the secondary market occasionally and command a fairly high price.

Click through to read more about Kyodo Shoji Koedo/Coedo Brewery, their Ruri Premium Pilsner, and to see more photos of this elegant tap..

Kyodo Shoji Koedo Brewery was founded in Kawagoe in 1996. The Japanese government changed the regulations on beer production in 1994, making it legal to operate a microbrewery, much in the same way that Jimmy Carter's legislation did in the United States in the 1970s. Kyodo Shoji Koedo began as an agricultural company that specialized in vegetable distribution due to the many farms in the area. The company recognized that large amounts vegetables were being wasted due to their shapes and weights that did not qualify for distribution standards. Kyodo Shoji Koedo wanted to produce products making use of these excess vegetables. With a huge excess of sweet potatoes, which Kawagoe was well-known for producing, they made sweet potato candy, chips, noodles, ice cream, doughnuts, and many other items. They also came up with the idea of making beer, and combined with the fact that Japan did not produce much wheat and barley domestically, the company tried to use the sweet potatoes as a wheat and barley substitute, getting the idea from the Japanese spirit called shochu, which was made from sweet potatoes.

The initial attempts at "sweet potato beer" were disappointing, as the fledgling brewery lacked the expertise in the brewing field. When the company imported equipment from Germany, they invited a brew meister from Germany, who came from a family line of brewers, to assist their efforts. One major obstacle in hiring the brew meister was the language barrier, as he couldn't speak Japanese. Through a combination of German, Japanese and hand gestures, over the course of 5 years the brew meister developed a process of brewing with sweet potatoes and taught the company's workers how to brew it. The company put a large emphasis on hygiene; workers remove their shoes, don cleanroom gear, and spend much time scrubbing tanks clean.

After several years of growth, a new brewery was built a bit further down the expressway toward Tokyo, which had European styling and also included a canning line. Kawagoe was nicknamed “ko-edo” (little Edo) due to its resemblance to 18th century Tokyo. After building the new brewery, they re-branded the beer as “Coedo”, and the sweet potato beer is now known as “Beni-aka” after the red-skinned tubers, and is their flagship beer, winning a silver medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup. The old brewery was turned into a fine casual restaurant, Komugi Ichiba (“wheat market”), which is decorated with dry stalks of wheat. There is an emphasis on locally grown organic produce in the light and natural seasonal cuisine. The menu consists  of salads, thin-crust pizzas, and sausages, with Coedo beers on draft and dispensed in tasters or mugs.

Coedo Beers are named after classic Japanese color hues: Kyara (deep golden brown tinged with red, Indiana Pale Lager), Ruri (clear blue sky, pilsner), Shiro (milky white, wheat beer), Shikkoku (jet black, black lager), Beniaka (red amber, premium lager made with sweet potato).  Each year Kawagoe and the Coedo Brewery hold an Oktoberfest festival for one day outside of the Saitama Super Arena. In 2012, Coedo collaborated with Ballast Point on “West to East IPA”, the first IPA ever produced at the Japanese brewery. Using hops native to the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, rice is added to impart a sushi flavor, and there is a bright citrus finish from the yuzu. Another American touch was the use of San Diegan yeast (California Ale Yeast from White Labs) for fermentation. The beer was distributed in the San Diego area.

In Japanese, Ruri is the color of clear blue skies, and crystal clarity is what this incredibly pure premium pilsner is all about. Its flawless golden color contrasts beautifully with a soft. white head for an easy drinking brew that pairs well with almost any dish. Its delicate balance of rich flavors and hoppy bitterness is light on the palate and persistently enjoyable, providing a deliciously satisfying quaff for discriminating beer drinkers with sophisticated tastes. With the stark contrast of its clear golden hues and fluffy pure white head, this premium pilsner boasts a crisp refreshing taste.

Ratebeer weighted average: 2.85 out of 5
Beer Advocate: 79 out of 100 (okay)

Kyodo Shoji Koedo Brewery
59-1, Fukuda,
Kawagoe-shi, Saitama Prefecture, Japan 350-082

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