Bog Standard’s Fall Beer Lineup!
The temperature is finally cooling off in Japan, with air conditioners swiftly being replaced with heaters, t-shirts with cardigans, and summer seasonal beers to fall beers with a little extra alcohol to keep you warm! Technically fall starts from August in Japan, but I like to wait until the temperature gets below sweltering before trying to think of falling leaves and delicious beers!
(Note: As per my post here on craft beer in Japan, beer is strictly referring to drinks that have above 67% malt content and are primarily made of just malt, hops, yeast, and water. Continue reading to see a selection of near-beer / low malt options below.)
Brewed annually since 1991, this beer contains 1.3 times the usual amount of malt for Kirin beer (Kirin Lager). It features a red and orange-leaf themed can and a full percentage more alcohol than usual, bringing this 6% beer the extra kick needed to make you feel as warm as roasted malts as the weather transitions towards winter. This beer has been made for over 15 years now with the fall-themed design varying year to year, check it out directly here from Kirin. This beer is sold in 4 sizes; 350ml can, 500ml can, 500ml bottle, and 633ml large bottles, perfect to drink alone or share with friends and family.
This beer is part of the <Kaoru> Ale series by Suntory. This seasonal variety, called Hojun (lit. “Mellow”) is a fair addition to the seasonal lineup. This beer is a little different than the usual bog standard beers as it is an ale whereas most bog standards are lagers or pilsners. The ale yeast help give this beer a mellow aroma and slightly fruitier taste. The can features varying shades of orange, gold and white, with a blue ribbon around the bottom. This beer is also higher in alcohol, sporting a solid 6% ABV.
Outside of strictly beers, there are a few Happoshu drinks available as well. Happoshu is generally referred to as near-beer or low-malt beer, and contains less than 67% of malt in it. There are a few from each brewery and we will focus on the best two out of the bunch.
1. Sapporo’s Mugi to Hoppu (Wheat and Hops): Aki no Kaori Mugi (Autumn’s Fragrant Wheat)
This beer is part of Sapporo’s Mugi to Hoppu (Wheat and Hops) line of near-beers. Focusing on a savory aroma of wheat and a mild richness, this beer uses malt that was carefully roasted over low heat. Compared to a beer with more malt content, it may taste a little light but is my favorite of the bunch. Good to note that this beverage also uses spirits distilled from barely to fortify flavor and alcohol content. (Translation note: Mugi can refer to either wheat or barely and since this low-malt drink uses a variety, I have left it as just “wheat”).
2. Clear Asahi: Aki no Zen
This is a seasonal Clear Asahi low-malt drink for the fall season. Being a Happoshu, this beer may taste lighter than a more heavily malted beer but it uses a robust amount of German aroma hops to help give a profound around and a good amount of finishing bitterness. This beer is fairly refreshing with a level of carbonation that Asahi is known for. At 6%, this drink is perfect for the fall season. (Translation note: Zen here can refer to a small table used to serve an individual a meal, can refer to a small meal for an individual, or to count a serving of food for a person. I would say that it gives a feeling of, “This is just for me, it is special, and I am going to enjoy it” while having a small snack, watching the leaves fall in the distance.)
So today we covered the two Bog Standard Fall Beers and two of my preferred low-malt “seasonals”. Let us know if you have a seasonal drink you prefer in the comments below!