7. Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale — Kiuchi Brewery
Kiuchi is a brewery based in Ibaraki Prefecture that earned its chops brewing nihonshu, or Japanese sake. It’s been in operation for over 100 years, but they began producing beer in the mid-'90s, and have since risen to international acclaim. Their bread and butter is a wide variety of ales that are easily recognizable by their now-iconic owl logo, which is ubiquitous throughout their brews.
The Japanese Classic Ale is an English IPA (India Pale Ale), which derives its name from being shipped to British troops stationed in India in the 1700s. Compared to standard pale ales, IPAs are much hoppier, since hops are a natural preservative (vital for that long voyage to India), and have a higher alcohol content. This brew is medium-bodied and copper colored, with a sweeter caramel nose and a balanced, bitter finish. It is available all year, and is 7 percent ABV.
6. The Carpenter’s Mikan Ale — Baird Brewing Company
Baird’s Mikan Ale is a fruit beer flavored with mikan, which you might know better as a tangerine, mandarin or satsuma orange. According to their site, the fruits are locally sourced from a carpenter-friend who frequents their flagship taproom. It has a yellow-orange pour, and an expectedly hoppy, citrus nose. The citrusy flavor gives way to a nice maltiness for a refreshing mouth feel. It’s a seasonal beer available in January, with 7 percent ABV.
5. Hitachino Nest Nipponia — Kiuchi Brewery
The Nipponia is an Imperial Pilsner, which tend to be maltier and more bitter when compared to a standard Pilsner. This particular beer is brewed using a revived strain of barley that was developed in the 1900s. It’s a crisp beer with a golden amber color, and has a citrus edge that offsets its bitter finish. It has rotational availability in both the U.S and Japan, and is 8 percent ABV.