Japanese brewers are starting to broaden their offerings and produce some world-class varieties in recent years. If you love white beer, you have a good selection of quality homegrown Japanese beers to choose from.
That's why our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Kakaku.com for the best Japanese wheat beers available online. We then picked out the most popular products and taste-tested them.
We rated their taste on 7 things:
We then ranked the products and put what we learned into a buying guide to help you choose the best Japanese white beers available online.
Wheat beer is known in Japan mainly as "white beer," and although there are different types, they all use wheat or wheat malt. They do have a characteristic white color, and the taste is moderately bitter, mildly acidic, and slightly sweet. They can also be hoppy and foamy with a light mouthfeel.
Here's a quick look at the radar charts we used to rate the beers, with a translation to help you understand them. We explain it in more detail in our "How We Tested" section which follows the product list.
Daisen G Beer
Grand Kirin White
Hitachino Nest White Ale
Blue Sky and Sea Weizen
mybest's Top Choice! A Great Beer For All Tastes and Occasions
A Wonderful Balance of Sweet and Spice
For Those That Want a Truly Japanese Take on Belgian Beer
Recommended if You Like Creamy, Fragrant Beers
Great for White Beer Lovers on a Budget
Try This if You Like Japanese Beer but Want Something Different
Recommended for People Who Prefer Lighter Beers
|Japanese||キリンビールグランドキリン ホワイトエール||木内酒造常陸野ネスト ホワイトエール||箕面ビールゆずホ和イト||大山Ｇビールヴァイツェン||サッポロビールホワイトベルグ||サッポロビールヱビス 華みやび||ヘリオス酒造青い空と海のビール|
|Volume||12 oz.||11 oz.||11 oz.||11 oz.||12 oz.||12 oz.||12 oz.|
|Style||White Ale||Belgian White||Belgian White||Weizen||Non-barley malt/Beer-style beverage||Belgian White||Weizen|
We picked out some of the most popular products and taste-tested them for bitterness, acidity, sweetness, body, sharpness, hoppiness, and aroma. Then we ranked the top 13 Japanese white beers available online.
Japanese prices for some of the products are given, but they've been converted into US dollars to make it easy for you.
|Style||Non-barley malt/Beer-style beverage|
And why they didn't make it. They may be worth a taste anyway, though!
Weizen from Minoh Brewery in Osaka is gentle end elegant in both aroma and taste. The mouthfeel is soft and the flavor of wheat malt lingers on the palate. The yeasty sweetness would pair well with white sausage or fried chicken.
Beer Oh! Kaze weizen is bottled in the Kasumi-Kogen area of the Aso Kuju National Park in Oita. It has a clear, solid taste and a fragrance reminiscent of French bread. Rather than drinking it on its own, we think it lends itself to pairing with heavier foods such as pasta, steak, or white sausages.
Ginga Kogen Beer's Weizen is brewed in Iwate prefecture. It follows the southern German tradition of wheat beers, and it has a similar taste. The wheaty flavor is so strong, it's almost just like biting into a piece of bread. It's moderately bitter and smooth, and we think it would be appreciated by those who aren't big beer fans.
Suiyobi No Neko from Yaho Brewing in Nagano translates as "Wednesday's Cat." If you drink beer regularly on Wednesdays, you'll probably enjoy this one, but it may be too strong in flavor for those who aren't used to white brews. It has a rich wheat flavor and subtle sweetness like bread or rice. The taste is firm, but sharp.
Oshu Sendai Date Masamune Weizen from Miyagi prefecture is a hazy, pale yellow color with rather large bubbles in the foam. We thought it was too light and it didn't leave much of an impression. There is a characteristic taste of malt, but it fades quickly, and it's so easy to drink it might as well be water.
Ishikawa Brewery's Tokyo Blues Single Hop Wheat Beer is brewed in its namesake Tokyo using Nelson Sauvin hops. It has their characteristic fruity, white grape scent, but there is a sourness at first sip that is followed by a lingering bitter taste.
We don't always drink beer at work, but when we do, it's in the name of science!
Six members of our editorial department, all of them beer lovers, drank the beers and rated them on a 100-point scale (we've included the radar charts for you.) We then converted those scores to our 5-point scale and ranked them.
Our tasters had a preference for beers with some fruity and unique flavors. They felt that most of the beers they tried were easy to drink, and scores averaged 3.5 out of 5 points, well above 50%.
The top choices had strong, distinct personalities exemplified the fruitiness specific to white beer and fully extracted the aroma of the hops. They also often had additional ingredients like spices or citrus. They were mellow and sweet with an aroma of wheat bread and had a clear finish.
We've included the radar charts of each beer for you to see. The categories, clockwise from 12:00, are bitterness, acidity, sweetness, body, sharpness, hops, and aroma.
When we overlay the charts of all the beers, you can see some similarities. Bitterness, acidity, sweetness, and body scored modestly, while there were many beers with rich aromas and hoppiness. Overall, beers that were fragrant and less bitter scored higher.
We recommend considering the following points when choosing a wheat beer.
Most white beers fall into two categories: witbier, known as Belgian white, and German weissbier, which includes weizen like the ones we tested here. Let's look at weizen first.
"Weizen" means wheat in German, and as such these beers call for wheat malt as more than 50% of their raw ingredients. Hop bitterness is low, and the esters have a banana-like flavor particular to weizen yeast.
The head of a weizen has a creamy mouthfeel and the taste is clear with subtle sweet overtones which are often described as drinking bread. There are also often savory notes of clove and nutmeg. These beers are very easy to drink.
Belgian whites are brewed using wheat as well but are distinct from German weizens. The main difference you'll notice is their use of spices like coriander and citrus (traditionally, orange peel) in the brewing process.
These rich flavors create an exquisite beer that is easy to drink and very different from the common malty beer. The head is fluffy and light, and they have a mild acidity with a refreshing, fruity sweetness. They should be served at slightly warmer temperatures of 45-50℉.
We'll be honest: in our original test, our Japanese editors tested beers from all over the world. But since this article is titled "best Japanese wheat beers," we've only included ones that are made in Japan. However, considering the origin of your wheat beer is also a vital part of choosing your ideal brew.
We also understand that some of you may not be interested specifically in Japanese beers, though, so we've also included information on how to find your perfect wheat beer - Japanese or not.
When you hear the phrase "Belgian white," the brand that probably comes to mind is "Hoegaarden." Belgian whites typically carry the fruity and refreshing scents of coriander and bitter orange peel. If you want to try the original wheat beer, we recommend trying a Belgian white.
If you like a wheat-y beer, a wheat-y taste is what you'll get with a German weizen. They're best paired with hearty foods like sausages, meat, cheese, and more. If you enjoy having a pint with dinner or are just looking for something easy to drink, we recommend a German wheat beer.
Japan has finally caught on to the craft beer scene in recent years. Even large beer companies are starting to create specialty brews, and white beers are not hard to find. If you have a go-to favorite, why not give their white beers a shot first?
We'll give you some advice so you can get the most enjoyment from your white beer!
First of all, ensure that you don't serve your white beer at ice-cold temperatures. You'll be missing out on the aromas and flavors if you do. These are best served slightly warmer. We recommend refrigerating a room-temperature beer for 1-2 hours just before serving.
Next, before pouring, rotate the bottle lightly to agitate the yeast sediment at the bottom. This will spread the yeast throughout the beer as you pour it, creating the distinct cloudiness and delicious bread taste. We recommend you use a glass with a wide mouth such as a tumbler or tulip glass. This will help release the aromas as you drink, and the exposure to air will bring out the beer's fruitiness.
Finally, here are some recommended food pairings. White beer tends to go well with other pale foods and lighter dishes such as seafood and vegetables. Sour foods like seafood carpaccio, vinegar-dressed salads, and pickles are a good choice.
You can also try steamed or sauteed mussels, white fish, chicken tenderloins, and cheeses. White beer also pairs really well with sweet foods! Try candied citrus peels, cheesecake, tarts, or chocolates.
Feeling thirsty? Me too. Here are some more suggestions of great beverages to quench your thirst.
Author: Rikako Miyazaki/Translation: Susan Lucier-Ogawa/Photos: Koichi Miura, Yamato Muraoka
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