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Wide Range of Ingredients in Japanese Craft Beer Creates Unique Flavor Variety

Wide Range of Ingredients in Japanese Craft Beer Creates Unique Flavor Variety

Japanese craft beer is produced using the clear water that flows through various regions of Japan as well as brewing techniques that have been developed for the production of sake, soy sauce, and miso.

In addition, Japanese craft beer is unique for its rich flavor variety born from the use of a wide range of secondary ingredients made available by the seasonal variations in Japan. This article explores breweries that continue to strive for the creation of these rich flavors.

Yeast That Matches Unique Attributes of Beer

Miyazaki Hideji Beer is a brewery located in Kyushu in southern Japan. While most breweries purchase yeast from distributors and use the same yeast repeatedly, Miyazaki Hideji Beer cultivates its own yeast for each brewing session and only uses yeast that has undergone quality fermentation.

The brewery has insisted on storing around 200 varieties of yeast at extremely low temperatures and constantly switches between them according to the style of beer being brewed. As yeast requires highly delicate temperature and humidity control, this form of management is extremely labor-intensive. However, this process has also made it possible for the brewery to consistently produce high-quality beer. Well-fermented yeast not only brings out the natural character of the various secondary ingredients and hops but is also perfect for brewing beer with high drinkability.

Respect for Local Ingredients

Produce local to Miyazaki Hideji Beer includes yuzu, mangoes and kumquats, and the brewery is committed to developing beers that incorporate these specialty ingredients. While seasonal ingredients have often been used as secondary ingredients in beer, some of the brewery’s products took over two years of development before commercialization is possible – as not all ingredients are compatible with beer.

According to Miyazaki Hideji Beer, the reason they have gone to such lengths is because the brewery wishes to “create new flavors unique to the local region and contribute to the local agricultural industry by actively incorporating the wonderful ingredients of Miyazaki into their products.”

Bringing Miyazaki’s Charms to the Rest of the World

In the midst of developing new beers from the wide range of specialty ingredients available, Miyazaki Hideji Beer has also launched the development of products that cater to international consumers. In addition to having a character unique to Japan, the new beer needed to be able to withstand the long journey of being shipped overseas.

The result of the brewery’s painstaking efforts was “KURI KURO Dark Chestnut Ale.” By using the local specialty ingredient of Japanese chestnuts and adding chestnut paste midway through the brewing process, the brewery succeeded in creating a full-bodied, aged beer with a high alcohol content.

Possessing the aroma and depth of flavor of coffee and chocolate, KURI KURO has a high alcohol content of 9 percent and can be aged in the bottle for several years. With each passing month, its aroma deepens, and its taste is transformed into a rich and well-rounded flavor.

Expressing Japanese Culture Through Beer

Miyazaki Hideji Beer strives to convey the charms of Miyazaki through the use of local Miyazaki ingredients in their products.

Similarly, “Yoho Brewing” which is located in Nagano prefecture, is developing products with a distinctly “Japanese” appeal. One of the brewery’s products is “SORRY UMAMI IPA.” This beer is brewed exclusively for export and is produced using bonito flakes (katsuobushi), an essential ingredient for the dashi broth widely used in Japanese cuisine.

The umami component of bonito flakes serves to activate the yeast and promote its fermentation. This process further accentuates the hop aromatics, which are reminiscent of citrus and tropical fruits. Its packaging features samurai motifs and a wavy design inspired by Japanese painting, which rounds off its distinctly Japanese appeal.

The Pride of Japanese Craft Beer

Yoho Brewing currently owns a sizeable share of the Japanese craft beer market.

Based on its philosophy of “Flavorful beers for a joyful life,” the brewery has continued to offer the Japanese beer market variety, a new beer culture, and genuine delight for fans of beer.

The brewery believes that by using small-scale 600-liter tanks instead of large 10,000-liter brewing apparatus, it is easier for new beer recipes to be developed and more likely for innovative beer to be born. It is also constantly aware of the diverse and unique “craft beers” that small-scale breweries are capable of producing and is continuing to challenge on new fronts. 

Experience a Sense of Uniqueness

One of Yoho Brewing’s most popular products is “Yona Yona Ale.” This product has a distinctively refreshing citrus aroma, which is further enhanced through a special brewing method where the hops are immersed during both the preparation and fermentation stages. There is no mistaking the hop aromas, which are redolent of grapefruit and lemon upon first inspection.

“Suiyoubi no Neko” is a beer brewed using a combination of barley and wheat in the style of “Belgian White Ale.” Through the incorporation of orange peel and coriander seeds, this beer is tinged with sweet and sour acidic notes alongside its refreshing aroma. Due to its lack of bitter flavors, this delightful brew is also recommended for those who are new to craft beer.

“Suiyoubi” refers to “Hump day.” This name embodies the brewery’s hope that everyone can enjoy this beer in the middle of the week and take a breather.

A Rainbow of Colors in Saitama

Coedo Brewery located in Saitama prefecture is another company using ingredients that particularly complement the uniquely Japanese nature of their craft beer. Like Kizakura, Coedo has a long history tied in with the traditions and customs of Japanese craftsmanship such as sake brewing. Coedo’s Imperial Sweet Potato Amber, “Beniaka,” is made using locally grown, roasted Kintoki sweet potatoes, which offer the drink a caramel-like aroma. Rich and smooth-bodied, the color is a bold crimson. This coloring suits the name perfectly, with “Beniaka” referring both to a variety of sweet potato and to the color red, tinged with yellow. However, this unique coloring is a natural happenstance of the ingredients used, rather than an attempt at novelty; it is part of Coedo’s ethos to strive for “exquisite, delicately balanced” beer rather than to create “flashy” drinks.

Clever Use of Yeast

Coedo’s Hefeweizen “Shiro” (which translates as “white” in English) demonstrates the variety on offer at this brewery, with a bright hue and a soft, milky white glow – a natural effect from the types of yeast used – that contrasts with the deeper-bodied amber “Beniaka.” The name was chosen to represent both the bright color of this beer and its decidedly gentle taste. The yeasts used in this beer have been chosen specifically for their ability to draw out the sweetness from wheat, which pleasantly complements the fruitiness of the hops, resulting in a refreshing yet smooth flavor.

For Black Lager Lovers

In stark contrast to both “Beniaka” and “Shiro” is Coedo’s “Shikkoku.” The name of this beer translates into English as “jet black” – a perfect label for this dark beer. The color is determined by the use of two types of black malt, in conjunction with six other malt varieties, which, when slow-aged, create a well-balanced lager that is smooth and light, with a mellow flavor. The deep pitch-black color of this beer contrasts sharply with its bright foam head, which is light brown in color. Overall, the aroma is extremely hoppy.


Japanese craft beers that capture this spirit can be tasted at various venues in the four West Coast cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Portland as part of the Japanese Craft Beer Week campaign. Fifteen beers are available from the following six breweries: Coedo Brewery, DHC Beer, Karuizawa Brewery, Kizakura, Miyazaki Hideji Beer, and Yoho Brewing. These beers can be enjoyed in restaurants and bars across the four cities, with the campaign period lasting until the end of February 2020.

Coedo and Yoho beer is now available in the Los Angeles area at Bizen Beer Bar. Please contact the restaurant for information about tasting events currently being held with these beers. Be sure to follow Japanese Craft Beer on Facebook and Instagram to receive announcements on the latest venues and tasting events, and to learn about the participating breweries and their distinguished Japanese beer.

Campaign Period: January 24th to February 7th

Bizen Beer Bar
161 W Center Street Promenade 
Anaheim, CA

https://www.facebook.com/bizenbeerbar/


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