Best Japanese Beers: Unveiling the Authentic Tastes of Eastern Brews

Japanese beer, a world of unique flavors and refreshing experiences. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or just a casual fan, there’s no denying the appeal of Japan’s rich beer culture.

From the crisp taste of popular rice lagers to the complex profiles of craft brews, Japan offers a diverse palette of beer styles to explore.

In this journey, not only will you discover the top 10 must-try best Japanese beers, but also the art of pairing them with food and the proper etiquette to enhance your overall dining experience. So grab a glass and let’s dive into the world of Japanese beer!

Short Summary

  • Explore the amazing Japanese beer scene with 10 must-try beers from classic to craft.
  • Discover new flavors and pairings for an unforgettable experience, just remember proper pouring etiquette & serving temperature!
  • Ordering beer in Japan is easy – say “nama bîru kudasai” and don’t forget you have to be of legal age!

Exploring the Japanese Beer Scene

Ever since Dutch traders introduced beer to Japan in the 17th century, the Japanese beer scene has come a long way. The Meiji Period saw the establishment of major breweries like Kirin Brewery Company and Sapporo Brewery, leading to the mass production of various beer styles.

Today, Japanese beers are mainly rice lager types, with Asahi Super Dry and Sapporo Premium being top choices for their crisp and dry flavors.

But the Japanese beer scene goes beyond just rice lagers. With the rise of craft breweries and microbreweries, Japan now offers a wide range of beer styles catering to diverse tastes.

From IPAs and wheat beers to stouts and more, there’s something for everyone. So, are you ready to explore the best Japanese beers?

The Rise of Craft Breweries

The craft beer revolution has taken Japan by storm, offering unique and innovative beer styles to cater to the ever-growing demand for diverse tastes. From the heart of Tokyo to the countryside, microbreweries are popping up, producing seasonal flavors and limited-edition beers.

One great example is Echigo Koshihikari, a light-bodied beer with a smooth finish, made from short grain rice. Another is Yoho Brewing Tokyo Black, a hearty porter with a hint of chocolate and velvety texture, highly recommended by experts.

With so many craft options available, it’s an exciting time to dive into the Japanese beer scene!

Traditional vs. Modern Brewing Techniques

Japanese brewing techniques have evolved over time, with traditional methods prioritizing rice and craftsmanship, while modern brewing incorporates various ingredients and styles.

Most Japanese beers, including pale lagers, are made with malt, hops, yeast, and water, with rice being a key ingredient in the brewing process, giving them a light and clean flavor.

As the craft beer movement grows, Japanese brewers are experimenting with different styles and techniques, creating a fascinating blend of tradition and innovation. So, whether you’re a fan of the classic rice lagers or curious about the diverse flavors of craft beers, there’s a Japanese beer for you!

Top 10 Must-Try Japanese Beers

With such a vast range of flavors and styles, selecting the perfect Japanese beer can be daunting. But worry not! We’ve curated a list of the top 10 must-try popular Japanese beers, featuring both well-known and craft options from various Japanese beer brands.

From the classic Sapporo Premium Beer and Asahi Super Dry to the unique Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale and Yoho Brewing Tokyo Black, there’s something for every palate.

So, without further ado, let’s explore these amazing beers and find your new favorite!

Sapporo Premium Beer

Sapporo Premium. Beer holds the title of being produced by the oldest brewery in Japan, Sapporo Brewery. This classic Japanese lager is known for its clean taste and versatility.

Brewed in accordance with the Bavarian Purity Law, Sapporo Premium Beer has an ABV of 4.9% and offers a balanced flavor profile that pairs well with a wide variety of foods.

Whether you’re enjoying sushi or a hearty barbecue, Sapporo Premium Beer is the perfect companion to elevate your dining experience.

Asahi Super Dry

Asahi Super Dry, introduced in 1987, quickly became a popular choice among Japanese beer enthusiasts. With its light profile and crisp finish, Asahi Super Dry offers a refreshing flavor that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with various types of food.

The secret to its success lies in its super dry characteristic, which is achieved by using a special brewing process that results in a beer with a clean, dry finish.

So, whether you’re trying Japanese beer for the first time or looking for a go-to favorite, Asahi Super Dry won’t disappoint!

Kirin Lager Beer

Kirin Lagers is a member of the Kirin Lagers family. Beer, a premium Japanese beer with a rich history spanning over 130 years, is a popular choice among beer lovers. Brewed in the unique Ichiban style, Kirin Lager Beer offers a hint of sweetness that complements its balanced flavor profile.

With the signature thickness of its foam and an ABV of 5%, this great beer is perfect for those looking for a high-quality Japanese lager that pairs well with a variety of dishes. So next time you’re craving a refreshing drink, reach for a Kirin Beer.

So, why not give Kirin Lager Beer a try and discover what makes it a beloved classic?

Orion Premium Draft Beer

Hailing from Okinawa, Orion Premium Draft Beer is a rich-flavored Japanese lager that boasts a complex malt character thanks to its premium malts beer ingredients.

With its medium body and deep, satisfying flavor, Orion Premium Draft Beer is a great choice for those seeking a more robust Japanese lager.

Perfect for enjoying with barbecues, dinners, or simply on its own, this beer is sure to impress even the most discerning beer aficionados. So why not try Orion Premium Draft Beer and experience a taste of Okinawa in every sip?

Yoho Brewing Tokyo Black

For those who prefer darker beers, Yoho Brewing Tokyo Black is the perfect choice. This robust porter is expert-approved, with Alex Nichol, lead bartender at Momotaro in Chicago, praising its dry, chocolatey flavor and velvety texture.

With an ABV of 5%, Yoho Brewing Tokyo Black offers a hearty, satisfying experience that’s perfect for sipping on a chilly evening.

So, if you’re looking to venture beyond the realm of light lagers, give Yoho Brewing Tokyo Black a try and discover a new favorite.

Echigo Koshihikari

Echigo Koshihikari is a dry Japanese beer made with high-quality short-grain rice, offering a smooth finish and a unique drinking experience. With an ABV of 5%, this gluten-free beer boasts a light-bodied taste that pairs well with a variety of dishes.

Whether you’re enjoying sushi or simply looking for a refreshing beer on a hot day, Echigo Koshihikari is a must-try for any beer enthusiast.

Ise Kadoya IPA

Crafted by a small brewery in Ise, Japan, Ise Kadoya IPA is a well-rounded beer that balances bitter hops with fruity sweetness. Brewed to withstand long journeys, this IPA features three kinds of hops, offering a balanced flavor profile with a fruity citrus taste and a bitter punch.

If you’re a fan of IPAs and looking to explore the world of Japanese craft beer, Ise Kadoya IPA is a great starting point. It’s a great way to experience the unique flavors of Japanese craft beer and discover a new favorite.

Kawaba Snow Weizen

Kawaba Snow Weizen is a medium-bodied German-style beer that brings a taste of the Bavarian tradition to Japan. With a sweet, citrusy taste, this wheat beer is perfect for those who enjoy a harmonious blend of flavors in their beer.

Whether you’re pairing it with ramen or enjoying it on its own, Kawaba Snow Weizen is a delightful addition to your Japanese beer repertoire.

Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale

For a truly unique Japanese beer experience, look no further than Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale. This award-winning beer boasts a pink color and fruity taste, making it a standout choice among Japanese beers.

Brewed with special red rice, this Belgian Strong Pale Ale is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Ale offers complex Sake-like flavors, malt sweetness, and a hint of strawberry in both the nose and palate.

So, if you’re seeking a one-of-a-kind beer, Hitachino Nest Red Rice is for you. Ale is a must-try!

Perfect Pairings: Japanese Beers and Food

Pairing Japanese beers with various types of food can greatly enhance your overall dining experience. By selecting the right beer to accompany your meal, you can bring out the flavors of both the beer and the food, creating a harmonious and delightful culinary journey, as well as discovering new beer tastes.

In the following sections, we’ll explore some perfect pairings for different Japanese beer styles and dishes, so you can enjoy the ultimate beer and food experience.

Sushi and Light Lagers

Sushi, with its delicate flavors and fresh ingredients, pairs beautifully with light lagers like Sapporo Premium Beer and Asahi Super Dry. The subtle sweetness of these beers complements the flavors of the fish, creating a refreshing and balanced meal that’s perfect for any sushi lover.

So next time you’re enjoying a sushi feast, reach for a light beer, pale lager, or other alcoholic drinks to elevate your dining experience.

Yakitori and Rich Malts

Yakitori, a Japanese dish of grilled chicken skewers, is a perfect match for rich and malty Japanese beers. The smoky flavors of the grilled meats are complemented by the bold, robust flavors of the beer, creating a satisfying and indulgent dining experience.

So, when you’re craving some delicious yakitori, be sure to pair it with a rich malt beer to truly savor the flavors.

Ramen and Wheat Beers

Ramen, with its savory and umami-rich broth, can be beautifully paired with wheat beers like Kawaba Snow Weizen or Gueuze Tilquin.

These beers offer a harmonious blend of savory and sweet flavors that enhance the taste of the ramen, creating a delectable and comforting meal.

So, the next time you’re enjoying a steaming bowl of ramen, consider pairing it with a wheat beer for a delightful culinary experience.

How to Order and Enjoy Japanese Beer

Now that you’re well-versed in the world of Japanese beer, it’s time to learn how to properly order and enjoy it.

In the following sections, we’ll share tips on ordering beer in Japan, including common phrases and understanding the legal drinking age, as well as proper pouring etiquette and serving temperature.

With this knowledge, you’ll be well-equipped to fully appreciate and savor the flavors of Japanese beer.

Ordering Beer in Japan

When ordering beer in Japan, it’s useful to know some common phrases. To order a beer, simply say “nama bîru kudasai,” which means “beer please.”

Be mindful that the legal drinking age in Japan is 20, so ensure you’re of age before enjoying a cold one. With these phrases in hand, you’ll be ready to navigate the Japanese beer scene with ease.

Proper Pouring Etiquette

In Japan, proper pouring etiquette is essential to enjoying your beer to the fullest. When pouring beer, always fill up others’ glasses first, starting with the most senior person at the table.

It’s considered impolite to pour your own beer, so be sure to offer a refill to your companions before tending to your own glass.

By following these simple rules, you’ll ensure a pleasant and respectful beer-drinking experience.

Serving Temperature

The ideal serving temperature for Japanese beer can greatly impact its flavor and enjoyment. Generally, Japanese beer is best served cold, between 4-7°C, to bring out its crisp and refreshing flavors.

By serving your beer at the optimal temperature, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the unique characteristics of each brew, maximizing your enjoyment of Japan’s rich beer culture.


From the crisp taste of Sapporo Premium Beer to the unique flavors of Hitachino Nest Red Rice, from the crisp taste of Sapporo Premium Beer to the unique flavors of Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale, the world of Japanese beer offers a diverse and exciting journey for beer lovers.

Whether you’re exploring the Japanese beer scene, perfecting your food and beer pairings, or mastering the art of beer etiquette, there’s always more to discover and enjoy.

So grab a cold one, say “Kanpai!”, and immerse yourself in the rich and refreshing world of Japanese beer!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Japan’s most popular beer?

Asahi Superstore. Dry is the most popular Japanese beer, renowned for its signature dry but crisp flavor. Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. (, Asahi Gurpu Hrudingusu kabushiki gaisha) is a global beer, spirits, soft drinks and food business group headquartered in Sumida, Tokyo that is widely consumed all across Japan.

With its light, crisp bitter taste and extremely sharp aftertaste, it’s no surprise that Asahi Super Dry is the country’s leading beer choice and a fan-favorite worldwide.

Which is better Asahi or Kirin?

Overall, it depends on your personal taste. If you’re looking for something lighter, go with the crisp and refreshing Asahi Super Dry. If you prefer a bit more depth and body, then the malty Kirin Ichiban should be your choice.

Ultimately, it’s up to you!

Why is Asahi so good?

Asahi’s dedication to quality, the careful selection of ingredients, and the brewing process all combine to make this beer a hit with beer lovers.

Their commitment to consistency, freshness, and flavor makes Asahi an excellent choice for anyone looking for a delicious craft beer.

What beer is actually made in Japan?

Japan is renowned for its delicious beer, which is mainly made by the four major breweries – Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory. The beers typically consist of a blend of malt, hops, yeast and water, often sourced locally, with lagers usually being 5% ABV.

Breweries in Japan have been producing beer since the late 19th century, and the country has a long history of beer production. The four major breweries have been producing beer for over a century, and their beers are widely available in Japan.

What are the main types of Japanese beer?

Japanese beer is generally divided into two main categories: light lagers like Asahi Super Dry and Sapporo Premium, and fruit-flavored varieties like Yebisu Peach.

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