Echigo Koshihikari Beer: Rice Style Lager from the Pioneers of Japanese Craft Beer10 May 2021
Echigo Beer Is the Pioneer of Japanese Craft Beer
Craft beer was born in Japan in 1994, when the Liquor Tax Law was amended to significantly lower the minimum production volume required to obtain a beer manufacturing license, allowing small and medium-sized brewers to produce beer. At that time, Echigo Beer was one step ahead of the rest of the country in opening a brewpub and brewing the first domestic craft beer in Japan. In other words, the founding of Echigo Beer marked the birth of craft beer in Japan.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, the founder of Echigo Beer left Japan to work as a theater artist in Europe. Based in Rome, Italy, he studied dance and other subjects, spending days performing in plays and films, where he also happened to meet a German woman who was a picture book author. During the vacation season, the founder went to her hometown of Regensburg to visit her and experience the rich beer culture of Germany. He later decided that he wanted to spread this culture from his hometown in Niigata to Japan, and this was the starting point of Echigo Beer.
The illustration of a smiling male goat with a beer in its hand, which is the trademark of Echigo Beer, was created by the German woman. The male goat is a symbol of vitality, good harvest, and prosperity in Germany and the Czech Republic.
Koshihikari Beer Is the Flagship of the Brewery
The brewery is located in Niigata prefecture, which is the number one rice growing prefecture in Japan and home to the famous Koshihikari rice, a short grain rice regarded as the best quality and flavor in all of Japan. The brewery has high standards when selecting the Koshihikari rice to assure the superb flavor outcome of their flagship rice lager.
Echigo Koshihikari Beer is a rice style lager with a pale golden color that comes out of the bottle, and a strong head that quickly fades. It has a slightly acidic tang to the regular lager flavour, but it is not too overpowering. While the malt ingredient is imported from Europe, the rice is harvested literally from the backyard of Echigo Brewery. Though this beer is categorized as being dry, the brewery uses the time-consuming German decoction method to bring out the natural sweet flavor from the premium Koshihikari rice, which can appeal even to those who do not like dry beer.
This beer from the very pioneers of Japanese craft beer is definitely worth a try!