IWAKUNI MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Japan — Ninety varieties of beer, four hours, one tiny tasting glass: Welcome to the second annual Iwakuni Beer Festival.

With glass in hand, dozens sampled a wide selection of that most beloved of beverages during the on-base event Saturday.

The libation ranged from the familiar, Budweiser and Busch, to the exotic and pricey, such as the $127 per case Weltenberger Asam Bock from Germany.

A festival ticket included a free tasting of any of the 90 beers and food in the Club Iwakuni ballroom.

But the festival wasn’t only about drinking and munching onion rings, it was also a chance to learn about beer, or as the Mesopotamians aptly called it, “liquid bread.”

If ancient history was a bit too heady, there was a seminar by Club Iwakuni’s head chef on four food dishes that make a tasty beer companion.

Sgt. Kevin Flynn manned one of the event’s most popular beer booths, which offered Russian, German and English brews.

Flynn said he favored Bitburger Pilsner, a popular beer in Germany.

The pilsner, a light and refreshing beer, also is relatively affordable at $39 per case compared to the table’s other import beers that sell in Japan for more than $100 per case.

“It’s kind of like the Budweiser for Germany,” he said. “It’s awesome.”

The high-cost of beer brands such as Young’s Special, a staggering $127 per case, is most likely due to import and export taxes, Flynn said.

The high price tag doesn’t necessarily mean a better-tasting beer.

Lance. Cpl. Christopher Bogar said he sampled the $108-per-case Baltika No. 6 from Russia, a thick porter-style beer, and wasn’t impressed.

“It’s grainy like it has sand in it or something,” Bogar said. “I think I’ll stay with Budweiser and Miller Lite.”

Humans have been searching for a better brew for millennia.

The earliest versions were created with barley bread, date juice and a variety of spices such as cumin, myrtle, ginger and honey, according to a pamphlet compiled by Club Iwakuni for the event.

Early beers were brewed for centuries but it wasn’t until the 1300s that Bavarian monks added hops, a basic component to all modern beers, the pamphlet said.

For drinkers today, there is a wide array of beer choices.

Certain foods can amplify the experience of any great-tasting brew, said Phillip Kitzko, Club Iwakuni general manager.

“In my opinion, it’s foods that are hearty in nature,” Kitzko said. “I’m not really a fan of salt because it draws out the moisture.”

Cooks should hold off on the salt but not be shy with tomatoes, garlic, thyme and other herbs and spices, he said.

Kitzko and Japanese chefs cooked trout, filet mignon in tarragon sauce, Hunter-style chicken, and seafood jambalaya to sample before beer drinking began.

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