For the most part when people think great beers of the world, Asian beers rarely make the list. What typically comes to mind are lagers like Sapporo, Asahi, Tiger, Tsingtao or Hite. [singlepic id=212 w=270 h=190 float=]Many of these beers are also made with rice instead of barley (good for those going gluten free). [singlepic id=211 w=220 h=240 float=]With regard to taste these beers are similar to American Lagers like Budweiser, Coors, Michelob and the like. Which means generally they must be consumed as cold as possible, though magically tend to pair very well.
There are a handful of microbreweries beginning to sprout up, particularly in Japan. This is a relatively new phenomenon there because up until 1994 breweries could not get a license unless they were brewing at least 2 million liters per year. With that amendment the doors opened for a number of great breweries.
A couple of my favorites that are relatively available are Echigo and Hitachino Nest breweries. [singlepic id=209 w=270 h=190 float=]Though Echigo’s most popular beer is their Koshihikari lager, similar to those listed above, they also make an excellent Echigo Stout. This beer pours nearly black with a gentle sweetness brought in by its dark roasted malts and finishes dry. The bottle also looks pretty bad-ass too. They also make a decent Red Ale as well.
Speaking of great bottles, [singlepic id=210 w=270 h=190 float=]Hitachino Nest breweries may have one of the coolest, with a very chic 70’s looking owl as their mascot sprawled across each one. Luckily you don’t have to worry about judging the beer buy its label because Hitachino makes great ones. You really can’t go wrong. Their most popular is the White Ale, their take on a Belgian style beer with complex notes of citrus and spice. They also have a Red Rice Ale, Weizen, Espresso Stout and my personal favorite, a Sweet Stout made with milk, which is what gives it that extra body and sweetness.
Given how young the micobrew movement is there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more breweries and incredible beers making their way out of Asia sometime in the near future and I for one, can’t wait.
Written by Josh Schaffer
EatinAsian fanatic and foodie
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