Japanese Beers

You might be surprised to learn that beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage consumed in Japan, with brewing recorded since at least the 1600s. Just like here and in the US, the number of breweries has risen in recent years, with pale lagers being the commercial brew of choice. You'll find a wider range of styles from one of Japan's many microbreweries, including ale, lager and pilsner, each with a distinctive character.

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Pilsner-style lagers at around 5% ABV are still the most widely produced beers in Japan, however ji-biru (regional breweries/microbreweries) like Hitachino Nest are growing in popularity due to their experiments with styles from around the world, notable examples being Hitachino Nest White Ale, inspired by Belgian wheat beer, and Hitachino Japanese Classic, an IPA aged in cedar casks.

Dry beer - A popular Japanese beer style is this lager in which all of the sugars are fully fermented into alcohol, giving the beer a particularly clean, 'dry' character. First popularised in Japan in 1987 by brewing giant Asahi.

Autumn beers - Stronger-than-usual beers brewed for the autumn months. Often around 6% ABV, with autumn leaf designs illustrating the labels.

Happoshu - Meaning 'bubbly alcohol', happoshu is a beer-like beverage brewed with a low proportion of malt. In Japan, only those brews containing 50% or more malt by weight in their fermented ingredients are legally classed as beer, meaning that those beverages made with a lower proportion of malt avoid the higher tax rates which apply to beer.