Very micro: Japanese craft beers

The problem with Japanese beer is that it all tastes pretty much the same, said Charles Perry in the Los Angeles Times. Kirin, Sapporo, and Asahi are

The problem with Japanese beer is that it all tastes pretty much the same, said Charles Perry in the Los Angeles Times. Kirin, Sapporo, and Asahi are “all mass-produced lagers.” But don’t blame Japanese brewers for such unimaginative beers. Until recently, the country’s laws didn’t allow any brewery to be licensed unless it produced more than a half-million gallons a year. Lately a few microbreweries have sprung up whose beers are worth seeking out. Unusual flavors, include a red rice ale and a stout with flavors of soy and molasses. In a recent tasting, our panel’s top three picks in order of preference were:

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale ($4 to $5) Aged in cedar barrels; a very hoppy, “mouth-filling” beer with a woodsy nose.

Hitachino Nest White Ale ($4 to $4.50) A Japanese version of a Belgian wheat beer; slightly creamy, with “a gently bitter finish.”

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Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale ($4) Brewed from red rice, it’s reddish amber in color; an appealingly round flavor “with a faint whiff of the barnyard.”

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