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What is Japanese beer?

Just like beers made all over the world, Japanese beer is a fermented alcoholic drink made from grain, yeast, and water. Dutch traders introduced beer to Japan in the 17th century, also known as the Edo period. That Nagasaki beer stand was for sailors, and a taste for beer soon spread. Historians say the first brewery focused on the local Japanese market was established in 1869 in Yokohama, and they started producing the Kirin brand of beer in 1888. While sake may be the most well known fermented beverage from Japan, beer is the most popular drink for the Japanese.

What is Japanese beer made of?

All beer, no matter where it’s from, starts with a combination of the same three things: grain, yeast, and water. The most common grains used to make beer are hops, malt, wheat, corn, rye, barley, oats, and rice. Since Belgian-style white ale is popular in Japan, you’ll find beers that include spices like coriander and grains of paradise.

How is Japanese beer different from other beer?

Surprisingly, taxes on the malt grain play a role in the types of beers available in Japan, and the way those beers taste. Besides regular beer with a similar amount of malt as international beers, in Japan you’ll find low-malt beer and third beer, which is made without any malt at all. Some brewers decided to reduce the amount of malt in their beers to pay less in taxes. Third beers are very light in flavor.

Are all Japanese beers rice beers?

Most Japanese beers are not made with rice; they’re made with grains like hops, malt, barley, corn, oats, and wheat, just like beers made around the world. However, Japanese breweries, including Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo, do create rice lagers that are light, dry, and crisp, similar to Budweiser and Coors. Rice doesn’t have the same enzymes as other grains commonly used for beer, so it makes a brew that’s not as flavorful. Sake is the most famous Japanese alcohol that’s made from fermented rice.

What kinds of beers are rice beers?

Several popular and craft rice beers are appreciated for their light and dry flavor profile. Kirin Ichiban, Asahi Super Dry, and Sapporo Premium are all rice lagers. One of the most acclaimed rice craft beers is the Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale by Kiuchi Brewery, the Japanese owl beer. That beer combines a red variety of rice that is used to make sake with barley. The Belgian Strong Pale Ale (with 7% alcohol) has a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, along with a distinctive reddish color. You’ve probably been drinking a rice beer without even knowing it.

What is the number 1 beer in Japan?

The No.1 beer in Japan is Asahi Super Dry. This popular beer in Japan is a rice lager, so it’s refreshing, dry, and crisp. It’s satisfying on its own or paired with seafood tempura or teriyaki.

What is the best Japanese beer?

The best Japanese beer depends on your palate, the season, and what you’re eating. For a light meal of tempura, the best Japanese beer will probably be a light rice lager such as Asahi Super Dry, Kirin Ichiban, or Sapporo Premium. For sushi, the best Japanese craft beer might be a light, aromatic brew like Hitachino Nest White Ale. And if you’re at an izakaya having sausages, salmon, or teriyaki, the best Japanese beer might be a bolder red rice ale.

What is Japanese beer made of?

Just like other beers from around the globe, Japanese beer is made of grains. The most prevalent grains used in Japanese beer are wheat, rice, hops, corn, oats, and barley.

Is Sapporo Japanese beer?

Sapporo is one of the largest and best-known Japanese beer brands, dating back to 1876. They claim to be the oldest beer brand in Japan. The brewery was founded by brewmaster Seibei Nakagawa in the Shibuya area of Tokyo.

What are popular styles of Japanese beer?

The most popular styles of Japanese beer are ale, pilsner, and lager. Within these two styles, you can find many different approaches, flavor profiles, and alcohol levels.

  • Happoshu - The name means “sparkling alcohol” in Japanese. This beer has a lower amount of malt, so it’s lighter and less expensive than a typical beer.
  • New genre - This style, commonly known as third beer, is made without any malt. Brewers replace it with pea, soy, and wheat, creating a very light beer with less alcohol and flavor.
  • Craft beer - Japanese craft beer varies from city to city and is modeled after the international styles and ranges from fruity styles to dark and hoppy ones. Most Osaka beer is the craft style, and if you’re traveling there, it’s easy to find izakaya serving local foods that pair well with beer. A beloved Tokyo beer to explore is Harajuku Beer from Baird. Orion is the best-known Okinawa craft beer, and it’s made in an American style.

What are popular brands of Japanese beer?

Total Wine & More carries all the most popular and best brands of Japanese beer. With our large selection of Japanese lager, Japanese ale, and non-alcoholic beer, you’re sure to find one you’ll love. Our assortment of Japanese beer includes:

To learn more about Japanese beers, visit our Guide to Japanese Rice Lager.