The 10 Best Craft Beers in Japan
Looking to move beyond the “Big 4” of Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory? Japan has a dedicated and industrious craft beer culture as well! Check out these artfully brewed craft beers, ranked based on user reviews over at BeerAdvocate.com!
10. Angry Boy Brown Ale — Baird Brewing Company
Baird Brewing Company started as a small-scale family affair in 2001, when founders Bryan and Sayuri Baird made the jump from selling beer brewed by others to crafting their own (check out AAJ’s article here about how they’re doing it so right). They've since gained a faithful following in Japan and around the world, and although they've expanded their reach, they’re still known for their meticulous brewing standards and their radical labels, which have as much flavor and style as the beers themselves.
Angry Boy Brown Ale is no exception. Inside the stylish bottle is an English Brown Ale, which tends to be a bit maltier and sweeter than your standard ale. It has a rich brown color, a citrusy, hoppy nose, and chocolatey notes on the tongue that go down smooth and finish dry. It weighs in at 6.2 percent ABV, and is available year round.
9. Kurofune Porter — Baird Brewing Company
Another Baird staple, the Kurofune Porter is a Baltic Porter whose name pays homage to both the history of Baltic Porters (which were shipped across the North Sea) and Commodore Perry’s black ships in the waters of Tokyo Bay. Kurofune has a dark pour, a medium body, and a darker aroma reminiscent of coffee, which follows through when you drink. Baltic Porters are typically a bit heavier on the alcohol content, which makes Kurofune a bit of an exception, since it charts at 6 percent ABV. It is also available year round.
8. Yona Yona Ale — Yo-Ho Brewing Company
Yo-Ho Brewing is based in Karuizawa, Nagano. It started out as a subsidiary of Hoshino Resort Company, an international operator of ryokan, or Japanese-style inns, and is now owned in part by Kirin. They manufacture a wide range of traditional beers, but started off producing ale in a market that was dominated by lagers. Of all of their products, none is more popular than the Yona Yona Ale.
Yona Yona is an American Pale Ale (a brew of British origin, ironically). American Pale Ales have regional differences, but are generally a nice balance of maltiness and hoppiness. This one has a lovely copper pour, with slightly fruity notes offset by bitter hops. Crisp, with a buttery taste and a bitter finish, it is available throughout the year and is 5.5 percent ABV.