Thursday, February 6, 2014

Japan's Greatest Beer Of Beers - Yebisu

Yebisu Premium - The Beer Of Beers
Following up my last post on the Ins and Outs of buying Whisky Duty Free In Japan, I thought it only appropriate I also indulged in a commentary on a close cousin Japanese beer (undistilled whisky). So yes I was in Hokkaido, and I was near the Nikka Yoichi Whisky Distillery, but did I make a pilgrimage? Unfortunately not but next time I will be sure to. In the meantime let's get on with talking about beer. If you don't know this movie shows exactly how Japanese beer is brewed.

I like Japanese beer a lot (no kidding I have said that enough in the past). Not because it is Japanese but because of how clean and pure it always is. From my very first trip to Japan in the 1997 I have had a love for the Nippon brews. Japanese beer from Japan should not be confused with Japanese labelled beer here in Australia by and means. Unless your really lucky the Japanese beer you get here at your local bottle shop IS NOT from Japan but rather brewed in Thailand, Malaysia, or Canada, and or brewed under license in Australia itself. Just because it says imported automatically does not mean it is authentic or better. Check the import details on the label and see where the origin is. These are not bad beers in any way either just because they did not come from Japan. For me the flavour and texture is paramount and it is the source that counts and that source is Japan.

So what makes Japanese brewed beer different? I have no idea the chemical side of things but maybe it's the water, maybe the grains and ingredients, or maybe just the fact the style is brewed to taste for the locals (just like Fosters is for export in all those variations around the world). Either way Japanese beer brewed in Japan is different and that just adds to the excitement of actually travelling the 9hrs by air to get there. In the meantime I settle happily for what is available locally either way.

If there is one thing I look forward too while catching a JAL flight to Japan it is the selection of Japanese beer on the plane. In general a JAL flight you will be supplying Kirin Ichiban, Asahi Super Dry, Sapporo, and most often limited supply of Yebisu Premium so get in early on that one.

Cold storage for my Yebisu beers is a must when on the slopes!

I have my favourites in Japanese beer of course and the top of that list is Yebisu Premium. Pronounced E-bi-su, or if you are more familiar to the locals living in the district it is simply E-bis. The Y is always silent as the original name contains a Kana character no longer used in the modern Japanese language. Yebisu Premium is brewed in the Tokyo district of the same name by Sapporo Brewery and is considered on of the companies premium beers. A 100% Malt Beer originally developed as a German style but I think that name is really where the similarity stops.

Colour is golden straw and always with a creamy head. On the nose some toasted malts and mild citrus hops that translate to the palate. The the flavours of malted barley are clear and present yet holds clear clean crispness in the mouth and no saturated sweetness. Finish is dry and carbonated. Any time I am in Japan I head straight out to grab a few of these. As you can see from the image above, when on the slopes of Japan a couple of six packs get stored on the outer window sill for a groovy chill. Goes well with food as much as on it's own anytime.

Misato Katsuragi and Yebisu Prmium
For those Anime fans in the club and more particularly those with a love of Neon Genesis Evangelion will know the lovely character of Misato Katsuragi had a very in depth affair with Yebisu Premium often sighted as starting a morning breakfast with a cold can.

It is worth a note here to actually outline a little more just what I was doing in Japan. In short snowboarding in Hokkiado, Japan at the Niseko ski fields. It was awesome as always but what makes it even better is grabbing a cold brew at every food stop across the united mountain. I was in heaven I tell you. The first night we arrived at 11:50pm I ducked down to the local Lawson food store and grabbed some brews to put out the window to chill in the -12ยบ air. Gaurentted though every lunch on the mountain was meet with a hearty meal of noodles or curry pork rice and 500ml Sapporo Draft in a cold glass.

Just the day to day grind on the Niseko ski slopes.

So if you want to get into Japanese beer a little more, want to try the real deal but can't get to Japan, you will find most Japanese restaurants will stock genuine Japanese beer. Otherwise try buying from an Australian online importer such as Asian Beer Online. Asian Beer Online do not stock any of the beers named above but you will still get some good quality Japanese beer delivered to your door.

The Baron