Not sure which Japanese beer to try when you’re in Japan? We taste the big beers and craft beers of Japan and take the guesswork out for you. Kanpai to Japanese Beer Guide!
When we visit Japan, I love trying all the different beers that are available in the local supermarkets and grocery stores. There are hundreds of beers that are only available in Japan (at least not easily accessible in the US) and being a beer lover, it’s always an adventure to try new beers.
You’re probably familiar with Asahi, Sapporo, and Kirin beers but there are many popular craft breweries in Japan as well and it’s not too hard to find their beer throughout Japan. We previously shared a post on the different kinds of Japanese beers and here is part two of the Japanese beer tasting. Kanpai!
Where to buy Japanese Beer in Japan
You can easily find beers all over Japan, besides bars and restaurants, most convenience stores like Lawson’s and Seven-Eleven carry a decent generic selection. When in a pinch, the basement floor of department stores that sells food would also have some.
However, based on our experience if you want the best selection of Japanese beer, head to a discount supermarket like Okay Supermarket. The neighborhood Okay Supermarket near Nami’s house usually has 20+ “beer-like” drinks to choose from. The beer selection also changes based on seasons and time of year so new beers are always being rotated in.
Japanese Beer Guide – Ratings
Similar to the previous beer tasting, I’ve recruited my Japanese beer buddy (Nami’s mom) to drink and discuss each beer. We would share what we liked and what we didn’t like. Yes, we do the heavy lifting and take out the guesswork for you.
Ready to taste some beers? Kanpai! (Disclaimer: We are not professional beer tasters, simply two beer lovers trying different beers and sharing our feedback). For ratings below, any 3/5 beer is worth trying and 4/5 is fantastic, at least according to the two of us.
Japanese Big Beer and Craft Beer Reviews
Japanese Beer – Big Beer vs Craft Beer
Based on our tastings, in general, the Japanese craft beers are much better than big beers. The craft beer flavors are more pronounced and refined. A few of our favorites Japanese craft beers are from breweries in Karuizawa including Karuizawa Brewery and Yoho Brewing Company.
The most disappointing beers are the ones with the coolest packaging, but the beer is either tasteless or unpleasant. If you have tried the beers above let us know what you thought in the comments below. If your favorite beer is not on the list, let us know what it is and we’ll try to find it on our next trip to Japan.