If like me, you’re wondering how you can support the Japanese craft beer industry in recovering from the earthquake. If you’d like to take this opportunity to explore some new Japanese beers, here are my recommendations:
Kiuchi Brewery makes the Hitachino line of beers, which is by far the most available craft beer from Japan. For the most part they are competent and drink-worthy, but not particularly inspiring. The big exception I’ve come across is their Real Ginger Brew, which is fabulous and the only great ginger-flavored beer I’ve ever seen (“ginger beers” don’t count and are not my cup of tea). I respect Kiuchi’s experimentation with other ingredients too, like their red rice beer, and I hope they do more. Kiuchi was damaged a bit by the earthquake (it is 180 miles away from Sendai) and they’ll be losing money for a while as they use their facilities to bottle water for tsunami victims, so they could use some support.
Baird Brewery is relatively new to arrive in the US, but might be the best Japanese beer I’ve tasted. They do a good job on newly popular styles in the US like imperial stouts and imperial IPAs. Even better, they are making great beer with experimental Japanese-specific ingredients like the Natsumikan fruit. Also, their art is my favorite. They were far away from the earthquake and did not slow down their normal operations.
I’ve only seen Coedo Brewery beers twice now, but I’ve been somewhat impressed. They don’t brew particularly interesting styles, but they focus on doing a really quality job on the basics. Their Beniaka sweet potato lager in particular is excellent in its nuance (though beeradvocate seems to disagree with me for once).
I suppose you could also go drink an Asahi, Sapporo, or Kirin to support Japan, but you shouldn’t admit that to me.