Omnipollo: Turning Beer into Conceptual Art
Last night Tokyo beers lovers were treated with the chance to meet Henok and Karl from Omnipollo at “Bottle Shop Event Vol.14: KARL GRANDIN ART SHOW”. Mac, Founder and Lead Guide of Maction Planet, was in attendance.
Omnipollo was founded in 2011 by home-brewer-turned-pro Henok Fentie, and designer and Cheap Monday co-founder Karl Grandin. The name ‘Omnipollo’ is a portmanteau of Omnipotent and Pollo (Spanish/Italian for chicken). They are a ‘gypsy brewer’, with
Henok brewing his innovative recipes in various breweries.
I have written about Omnipollo before as I was lucky enough to attend the Japan launch party last August. However, what made last night extra special was a chance to meet the founders.
The event, the third of three Omnipollo events in Tokyo this week, was held at the intimate beer bar Pigalle in the delightful suburb of Sangenjaya, which is run by the husband-and-wife team of Hidehiro and Chie Yamada.
4 Omnipollo beers were on tap:
- Amurga: Imperial Stout
- Original Blueberry Slab Cake Ice Cream Soft Serve: Sour
- Yellow Berry Sundae: Imperial Stout
- Zodiak: IPA
The Soft Serve was quite something. ‘Original Blueberry Slab Cake Ice Cream’ is a blueberry caramel vanilla ice cream sour (of course!) brewed together with regular collaborators Buxton Brewing. First, half a glass of the beer was poured before being topped with a soft serve version of the beer by Henok himself. It was quite something!
Two bottles were also available in Pigalle’s incredibly well-stocked beer fridge:
- Fatamorgana: Imperial IPA
- COVERED IN PUPPIES collaboration with TRILLIUM BREWING: DOUBLE IPA
I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time chatting to both Henok and Karl. Despite all the cliches about never meeting your heroes, they were the most wonderful and down-to-earth people. Their passion for what they do is evident. They love talking about their craft and I enjoyed listening to their incredible stories.
Karl and I discussed the idea of beer as conceptual art. Some of the stories behind Omnipollo’s creations – be it the recipes, the bottle labels, distribution and availability – are the sort of tales you read about on museum labels at the most cutting-edge contemporary art galleries. A great example is the story behind their 3-year anniversary beer called ‘Gone’. All they would require is a documentary film and some props and they could occupy the same space as Zhao Zhao, the Chinese artist who was exhibited at the 2017 Yokohama Triennale and who won the 10th Annual Bacon Prize in Tokyo last year. Karl suggested though that the beauty was in these tales not being documented in this way – they exist ‘out there’ with people having participated in them or hearing about them and enjoying them.
Some lucky fans got to have their bottles upgraded with original art from Karl!:
Talking to Henok, who is now based in Ethiopia, it was very clear that Maction Planet and Omnipollo share the same philosophy: if you are going to follow your passion, do it as well as you possibly can, not as cheaply as you can, with as much innovation and fun as possible. It was his first visit to the World’s Greatest Metropolis, and he promised to come back for more!
The event attracted a diverse crowd of beer lovers from around the city. One of the biggest coincidences of the night was meeting Takashi Kudo and Kaori Oshima from TeamLab, Tokyo’s most innovative art cooperative. I had met Takashi recently when I accompanied a Maction Planet Tokyo Private Tour guest to discuss a potential project. It turns out that he is Karl’s oldest Japanese friend!
Thank you to Henok and Karl and to hosts Hide and Chie for a great night.
Maction Planet runs highly-rated Tokyo Craft Beer Tours, helping introduce the delights of Japan’s beer scene to visitors in The World’s Greatest Metropolis. Whether you are after a bar crawl, brewery tours, a unique Japanese beer festival, or discussions with brewmasters and bar owners, we can help.
As with any of our Tokyo experiences, your Tokyo Craft Beer Tour can be fully customised around the rest of your time touring The World’s Greatest Metropolis. Whatever your interests in Tokyo, contact us at email@example.com!