How did you get into the beer industry? Why does beer matter to you?
It was 20 years ago when I had my first taste of English Pale Ale and was shocked. It was the moment I discovered the diversity and richness of flavors in beer. From there I went on to drink all kinds of Japanese craft beers and eventually had the opportunity to work for the brands I loved the most. I think beer is a very important beverage because it is one tool for living a relaxed life, and it promotes community and connection. Craft beer is also a great new form of industry. The spirit of working together to create a market, rather than each brewery competing for it, is the most important aspect of craft beer. It feels like it represents an improvement over capitalistic economic activity. That's why I love working in this industry.
Why do you judge at the World Beer Cup? What does judging at the World Beer Cup mean to you?
I love the craft beer industry and want to contribute my bit to it. The judging sessions give me tips on how to improve my brewing, and I get to have a great time with my judge friends from around the world — it’s an irreplaceable opportunity for me. The World Beer Cup is attended by some of the best brewers, journalists, and consultants, and getting to know them and sharing new ideas and information is also a great experience. I feel very fortunate to have been a part of this effort for over 10 years. Without this experience, our beers would be of a lesser caliber today.
What else would you like the world to know?
Beer is just a beverage and has no power to heal injuries or illnesses. But we are born in really difficult times, with a lot of stress, and drinking a good craft beer is one oasis. I also feel that the craft beer industry is taking a more democratic, artistic, and organic approach to things. I am hopeful that it will gradually make the world a better place. I encourage you to seek out craft brewers in your area who have a great spirit. And if you can relate to them, please support them.