Japan is known for sake, but the most popular alcoholic beverage in the Land of the Rising Sun is beer. Beer is so popular in Japan, you can even get a can of it in some vending machines (at one time you were also able to get used school girl panties in vending machines in Japan too, but we won’t go there). In the good ol’ US of A, only a few Japanese beer brands are available. So which ones should you be drinking? Here are four of the better beers that hail from the country that brought us sushi and Yoshi.
Hitachino Nest White
This Belgian-style witbier (wheat beer) is perhaps the best Japanese beer available in the United States. When poured, Hitachino Nest White has a thick white head and has a hazy orange color. In this witbier you can pick up flavors of orange peel, coriander and clove. Alcohol is average for a witbier (5% alcohol by volume) and it is perfect for the warmer months. Do not judge a beer by its label, even though the cute little owl looks like it should be on a sweater at Urban Outfitters. Hitachino Nest White is produced by the Kiuchi brewery located in Naka, Ibaraki.
Koshihikari Echigo Beer
This is beer is a Japanese rice lager. Yup, they put rice in everything in Japan, including beer. Japanese rice lagers are similar to American Adjunct lagers because they use adjunct ingredients, in this case rice. Koshihikari Echigo is an ideal Japanese rice lager because it is crisp, light and it pairs perfectly with Japanese meals (Which have, you guessed it, more rice!). It is also average in alcohol content (5% alcohol by volume). It may be hard to find in your area, but try your favorite sushi restaurant and they should have it on their menu.
Think of Asahi Black as the summo wrestler of Japanese beers. While most Japanese beers are light and unintimidating, Asahi Black is a little tougher and has more body. Asahi Black is a Dark Munich style Ale. Dark in color and bold on flavor, Asahi Black has a caramel malty taste and it is a lot different than what most people think of as Japanese beers (light in color, taste and mouthfeel). Asahi Black pairs well with a variety of foods (not only Japanese) and it is a good beer for the colder months. Although a darker brew, Asahi Black is only 5% alcohol by volume.
One of the most well known Japanese beers in America (who hasn’t seen those sexy, curvy, silver cans?) Sapporo Original is actually a great Japanese rice lager that is widely available. This beer is very refreshing and can cleanse your palate after a few spicy tuna rolls or even Thai food. Sapporo Original has 5% alcohol by volume.