Summer is well and truly here in Japan and it brings barbecues, beaches, festivals, and beer.
Japan is well-known for having a selection of pilsners to rival the output of Germany. The domestic craft beer market has increased massively, both in number of beer and the kinds of beer available. There are choices out there that are crisper, fruitier, hoppier, or more refreshing than those pilsners. Think pale ales, weizens, saisons, or American IPAs, rather than a bold roasted beer, such as porters or stouts.
Here are five beers we recommend that lend themselves perfectly for drinking in the hot Tokyo summer. They can be found in bottles or cans, so pick some up before your next outdoor festival or picnic.
Boku Beer Kimi Beer by Yo-Ho Brewing
First released in 2014, this has become a stalwart in Lawsons. It’s a 5% saison style beer, that is light and citrusy, with a slight dry tartness to the body. If you’re looking for something refreshing, then Boku Beer Kimi Beer would be a very good choice. With its light citrusy flavours, it pairs well with a nice green salad, full of riccola and romaine lettuce, or some simple grilled chicken, such as yakitori.
Coedo Marihana by Coedo
American IPAs are tasty but at levels from 6% onwards, sometimes they don’t lend themselves to a relaxing drink in the sun. Coedo Marihana is a 4.5% session IPA – combine the lower abv of a beer with the same hoppiness of an IPA and this is what you would get. Its citrus bursting nose and crisp, piney body go well with some snacks such as potato chips, or Mexican dishes, known for their liberal usage of cilantro and limes.
Fujizakura Weizen by Fujizakura Heights Beer
Hefeweizens have been around since the early days of craft beer in Japan, with Fujizakura Weizen being one of the best in Japan, and also the world. It has an abv of 5.5% but its banana and clove flavours are refreshing in the summer heat. The lemony bready body also make it very easy drinking. Hefeweizens are notoriously easy to pair with food but the most common pairing is with some meats, such as grilled sausages, hams, or other meats. So, crack open the BBQ grill and have some of these as you eat.
Captain Crow Thrash Lager by Oh! La! Ho Beer
Summer and lagers go hand in hand. But Captain Crow Thrash Lager is not your usual sweet, caramel lager. It’s a 4.5% Indian Pale Lager – so the body of a lager with some hoppiness from an IPA. It’s not as bold or as brash as an IPA, but the thirst-quenching lemon and grapefruit flavours do make this beer go quickly. The sweetness you get from a lager is here and offsets any overt bitterness that an IPA would often have. This beer would go well with a spicy curry, be it Indian or Thai.
Baird Shuzenji Heritage Helles by Baird Beer
The final beer on the list is Baird Shuzenji Heritage Helles – and you can drink while supporting the environment. One percent of the sales of each bottle goes to supporting the “1% For The Planet” scheme. The beer itself is a 5% helles, meaning pale, lager that is dry and fruity, but not bold. The flavours are well-balanced, with its malty base and subtle tropical fruits going well with some fresh pizza.