I never got to meet my father-in-law. He died before my wife and I got together, so to honour his memory, we gave our first son, his first name, Koji. Now Japanese names are written in Kanji (the written characters that Japan adopted from China) and different characters can have the same phonetics but completely different meanings, so although Koji can only be written one way with roman characters, it can be written a number of different ways in Japanese. We had no idea at the time how perfect the characters we picked for our Koji would suit his personality. KO – 光 roughly translates to ‘brightness or light.’ JI – 司 can be though of as ‘lord or master.’ Put the two together and our son’s name literally is the ‘Master of Brightness’ which sums up how he moves through the world perfectly!
Before he had even made it to grade school, Koji’s nursery school teachers pulled me aside one day and in a semi-concerned tone explained to me that they really enjoyed Koji’s enthusiasm in class and the way he interacted with the other children which was remarkable because he was one of the youngest children they had enrolled.
“There’s one thing though… He’s the youngest and he likes to climb higher on the jungle gym than ANY of the other kids”
“Is this a problem?” I inquired.
“Only when we ask him to come down.”
His natural shininess was destined to be on-stage in elementary school he entered the school talent show multiple times always upping his game from the year prior. High school again saw him performing both on the football field as a receiver for the Handsworth Royals and as a dancer/choreographer in the annual ‘Hands-Up’ productions. During his years at UBC he got into DJing and hosting events and became DJ K-OG, a nice play on how his name is pronounced and also the OG I love because he came to me and said… OG stands for ‘Original Gangster’ but that’s not really me so for me the OG stands for Optimistic Gentleman – once again the source of positive energy and happiness. Quite simply Koji likes being in a situation where he can create good vibes and see people having a good time.
So what sort of beer to make for this first son of mine? The pieces of this puzzle and the recipe that would eventually be dedicated to Koji was a fairly organic journey. In my early days as a brewer I’d always let Koji try the things I was making and it just happened that when he tried my first batch of Kölsch (a German Ale made famous in Cologne) there was a connection. I completely ignored the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ (German Purity Law) that says that beer can only contain four ingredients – malt, hops, water and yeast and added a little orange peel to give the beer a bit of a citrus kick and Koji approved! He later brought me a jar of Peach Moonshine Jelly and said… ‘Hey Dad – why not put this in your beer too’ which is where the peach connection came in. Honey came into he equation because I just happened to have honey on hand from another brew and I just threw it in a batch. Like Koji himself, I just embraced opportunity and watched as ‘his beer’ evolved into what it became – a fresh, refreshing beer that loves seeing people have a good time.