Japanese beer has made its way across the world and is one of the most popular options for those in the United States and Canada. If you're looking for something familiar yet a little different, check out the varieties of Japanese beer. Microbreweries in Japan were deregulated in 1994, leading to a boom in production and sales and helping these drinks become more readily available everywhere.
Beer Styles in Japan:
There are two main styles of beer that come from Japan. The first is simply categorized as beer. The second in happoshu. Happoshu is a low-malt beer, which features less than 67 percent malt. It is against regulation to use the word "beer" for these drinks, though, we say you can call it what you like. Some of the other grains and ingredients used for happoshu include potato, corn, rice, sorghum and sugar.
There's also a third type of beer in the country that doesn't fall under either of the traditional categories. These drinks have no official name other than "third-category beer" (very creative). In many areas of Japan, these third-category drinks are simply known as liqueurs or "other miscellaneous alcohol." The differentiating factor for the third-category beers is that they are non-malt drinks that are made from soybeans.
Japanese Brewers and Beers:
With five major brewers in Japan, you'll find a variety of Japanese beer options. The most popular brewer is Asahi Breweries. Asahi Breweries offer Asahi Super Dry, Asahi Hon-nama (their happoshu), Asahi Blank and Asahi Premium Beer Jukusen. The most popular beer in Japan is Asahi Super Dry. Not surprisingly, it has a dry, refreshing taste.
You'll also find Kirin Brewery Company, which offers a large variety of drink options, such as the Kirin Ichiban Shibori, Kirin Heartland Beer and Kirin Tanrei (a happoshu). The clear yellow color and slight carbonation of the Tanrei is bright. The light aromas and light-bodied flavor come together well.
Sapporo Brewery features beers such as Sapporo Black Label and Yebisu. Yebisu is unique with a full malt flavor. You'll also see a clear, golden color in this beer.
Suntory only offers a few beer flavors and styles, including Suntory Malts, Suntory Premium Malts and Super Magnum Dry (their happoshu). A traditional pilsner, The Premium Malts offers a floral aroma as well as a rich, full-bodied taste.
Another popular brewery in the country is Orion. They offer a variety of drinks, including Orion Cider, Orion Southern Star and Orion Splash Beat. Orion Southern Star is a cold-brewed beer, with a refreshing hops flavor that is perfect for summer.