Judging by the gasps, chuckles and cheers, Japanese breweries did surprisingly well at the 2006 World Beer Cup.
When the winners of the biennial "beer Olympics" were announced in Seattle on Friday night, Japanese breweries earned nine medals.
Haru Urara (Iganosato Mokumoku of Iga, Japan) won the gold medal in the American-style Hefeweizen category. Swan Lake Beer Porter, from Hyouko Yashiki No Mori Berwery in Agano, Japan, won a gold medal in the Robust Porter category.
But the biggest surprises, at least culturally drinking, were Japanese medals in German-style categories.
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Silver medalist Izumo-ji Beer Weizen (Ekinan Co. Ltd., Izumo, Japan) bested bronze-winner Hoepfner Hefeweizen (Privatbrauerrei Hoepfner, Karlsruhe, Germany) in the South German-style Hefeweizen/Hefeweissbier category.
In the German-style Kolsch/Koln-style Kolsch category, the three winners were Bottoms Up Kolsch (Rock Bottom Brewery, Campbell, Calif;, gold), Nihede Beer (Soft Type) (Ltd Nanto Brewery in Nanjyo, Japan, silver) and Kaorino-Nama (Shimono Co. Ltd., Chiba, Japan, bronze).
Japanese beers also medaled in the Classic Irish-style Dry Stout category (Stout, Ise Kadoya Brewery, Ise, Japan, bronze, the only medal given in this category).
Applause for Japanese breweries' triumphs were sedate compared with the reception Pabst Blue Ribbon received for winning gold in the American-style Premium Lager category.
"I grew up on that beer," a voice from the back of the ballroom cried amid cheers.