Best Japanese Beer: 8 Brands to Give It a Try

Abbey Miller
Last Updated on
by Abbey Miller

Japan is a country of unique culture, some of the best foods in the world, and beers you definitely need to try. Best Japanese beers provide a unique twist to this beverage with their unusual yet appealing taste and high craftsmanship quality.

People in Japan have a long history of great affection for beer. It’s one of the alcoholic drinks they enjoy whenever they can. And if you’re among passionate beer lovers, you’ve probably drunk some of their beers. If not, we suggest the eight best Japanese beer brands to try.

Best Japanese Beer

8 Best Japanese Beer Brands

  1. Sapporo Premium
  2. Asahi Super Dry
  3. Kirin Lager
  4. Orion Premium Draft
  5. Echigo Koshihikari
  6. Yoho Brewing Tokyo Black
  7. Kawaba Snow Weizen
  8. Hitachino

1. Sapporo Premium Beer

Sapporo Premium Beer

Straight from Sapporo Brewery, Sapporo premium beer is one of the most popular drinks in this country and a globally popular product. It’s the brand that most people associate with the Japanese craft scene and probably the first beer from this country they’ve ever tried.

This rice lager is made of premium malt, which gives it a unique, rich flavor. Despite that, Sapporo Premium beer isn’t heavy on your palate but light and refreshing. You can feel its crisp taste from slightly bitter hops and mild sweetness from grains, which pairs perfectly with burgers and deep-fried foods.

2. Asahi Super Dry

Asahi Super Dry

As one of the most popular Japanese beers, Asahi Super Dry is the most common brand you can find in stores and bars around the world. Its “dry,” clean taste originates from a low malt amount and citrusy notes. Despite its relatively high ABV of 5%, this beer is so refreshing that you can have a couple and still don’t feel drowsy.

When it comes to food pairing, Asahi Super Dry is one of those drinks that goes well with all kinds of food. Its combination of delicate flavors won’t overpower the food taste but complement your meal for your supreme enjoyment.

3. Kirin Lager Beer

Kirin Lager Beer

Kirin Brewery company stands out as the oldest brewery in Japan. Its pride is Kirin Lager beer, one of the oldest light lagers in the world. This popular light beer has only 3.2% ABV, allowing its bold flavors to pop up without an alcoholic taste. The richness of flavors comes from a unique brewing process known as the first press.

This pale lager features barley and a touch of rice, giving it a toasty, bready flavor with a hint of lemon from hops. Kirin beer is perfect to serve with sushi, tempura, ramen, and seafood, but it also goes well with cheese, lean meat, and even fried chicken.

4. Orion Premium Draft

Orion Premium Draft

Orion Premium Draft beer is a jewel of Japanese beer craftsmanship, as you can’t easily find it in stores outside Japan. It has a complex malt character, which gives it a depth of flavor. You can feel grains, herbal hops, and a hint of citrus for a refreshingly crisp flavor after every sip.

You don’t always have to pair Orion Premium Draft beer with foods because of its complex malt profile, which makes it an excellent standalone alcoholic drink. Still, if you decide to do so, this light beer goes best with appetizers, such as garlic bread, salad, and tacos. Its light, refreshing flavor makes it an excellent pairing with desserts.

5. Echigo Koshihikari

Echigo Koshihikari

Echigo Koshihikari is one of the best rice lagers in Japan, thanks to its “secret ingredient.” Manufacturers of this smooth lager use short-grain rice Koshihikari, which gives it smoothness and mellow sweetness. Rice predominates, but sip after sip, and you’ll feel citrus and floral hops on your palate.

This Japanese beer has a unique character, making it a hidden gem among craft beers. Although it has an affordable price, you might have some trouble finding it in convenience stores. But once you succeed, you can enjoy its refined character alone or paired with oily fish, chicken, and sushi.

6. Suntory Premium Malt’s Beer

Suntory Premium Malt’s Beer

Another of the best Japanese beers, Suntory Premium Malt’s beer comes from a factory popular for other alcoholic drinks like whiskey. But as soon as they released this pilsner, it rose to prominence thanks to its amazing taste and high quality. It’s one of the most popular beers for parties in Japan.

Despite a bit higher ABV than other Japanese lagers and ales listed, Suntory Premium Malts isn’t heavy on your palate. It’s easy to drink because of its bittersweet taste and malty aroma. It pairs best with sashimi, tempura, and sushi, but you won’t go wrong if you serve it with appetizers like prosciutto, bruschetta, and cheese. 

7. Kawaba Snow Weizen

Kawaba Snow Weizen

Kawaba Snow Weizen is one of the best wheat beers among Japanese beers. It’s the finest combination of fresh spring water and high-quality ingredients from Germany. The manufacturer doesn’t filter this beer, and just because they skip this step, the final result is a soft beer, perfect for summer night refreshment.

This is a great beer to serve with pastries, light soup, and salads. Like most wheat beers, it’s also a nice addition to fruits and creamy desserts. The Weizen character of this Japanese beer allows fruity sweetness to subtly stand out and leave a smooth aftertaste on your tongue.

8. Hitachino Red Rice Ale

 Hitachino Red Rice Ale

Hitachino Nest Red Rice ale is a genuine twist to traditional rice beers, as it’s just one of the few beers that feature red rice. It’s probably the only beer in Japan with a rose-reddish color, which makes it one of a kind. With a cloudy, white foam on top of its rose-like body, this Japanese beer is an aesthetic and gourmet pleasure.

Fruity undertones really flourish in this rice ale despite a considerable ABV of 7%. You can really feel orange, banana, nutmeg, and coriander aromas in the rather complex flavor profile of this rice beer. Thanks to the range of flavors, Hitachino Red Rice ale complements fish dishes, as it covers fishy and lets umami reach your palate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Japanese Beer Styles?

The Japanese beer scene can boast of different styles, some of which are genuinely Japanese. The most common division follows the malt amount in beer; there are regular beers (with standard malt content), Happoshu (low-malt beers), and Shin Janru (beer-like alcoholic drinks with malt substitutes). But there are also lagers, pilsners, weizen, and stouts.  

Where Can I Get Japanese Beers?

You can buy different Japanese beer styles in convenience and liquor stores all around the world. Also, some rice beers like Sapporo Premium and Asahi Super Dry are common at bars and sushi restaurants. If you want a popular beer from Japan that you can’t find in nearby brick-and-mortar stores, you can always order it online.

How to Choose Japanese Beer

Brand popularity isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll get the best beers in Japan, nor the most expensive ones will always please your palate. Always read the label and look only for drinks that contain no additives and preservatives. Pay attention to the foam, as it should last at least five minutes. On the contrary, the bitterness should fade away fast; otherwise, your beer isn’t good.

To Sum Up

We just gave you an insight into the most popular Japanese beer brands, showing there is something for everyone’s taste, from light-bodied rice ales to premium malt lagers and wheat beers. If you’re eager to try something different, Japanese beers will tantalize your palate and slip down your throat, making you crave more.

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Abbey Miller
Abbey Miller
Abbey grew up in a family with an appreciation for great beers, fine wines, and nuanced Scotch whiskeys. It's no surprise that she studied Hospitality Management and is now a professional working on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.
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