Japanese Beer: Echigo Blonde

Continuing on with my recent theme of beers I picked up from the local City Super, tonight I cracked open another brew from Japan that I had never tried before. This one was bought the same night as the Ginga-Kogen from last week, and had been sitting in the fridge for a while, but the date on the bottom of the can indicated that it should be good still for another few months.

Tonight’s beer, the Echigo Blonde Ale, came from Land Brauerie Echigo-Bräu from Nigata, Japan. The Blonde comes in a white 350ml can with gold and red print and a ram’s head in the center. This is a classic Blonde Ale / Golden Ale, with 5% ABV. The beer poured with a deep, golden color, almost amber. It started with a nice head, but that very quickly disappeared, leaving no trace it was ever there. The beer also did not offer up much in the way of an aroma. Perhaps this was due to the beer coming straight from the fridge, as I definitely feel I served this one way too cold.

Echigo Blonde Ale

Echigo Blonde Ale

The first tastes of the beer did not amount to much, again, not a surprise due to the temperature. Initially, the carbonation itself was all I felt on my taste buds, without any actual flavors. I was drinking this along with some home made kushikatsu (Japanese-style, deep-fried pork skewers), and do have to admit, after a minute or two, the beer seemed to go very well with the panko-crumb coating and tonkatsu sauce. At this point, the flavors started to come out a bit, with some malty, fruity sweetness. Nothing special, but drinkable.

Would I go go out of my way to order this beer if I saw it on a menu? Probably not. But this one was enough that I’d take the time to try some other offerings from the brewery, and wouldn’t pass up another in a pinch. I would still gladly choose this beer over most of the large breweries, especially if I have the time to let it sit a few minutes to reach the proper temperature.

Japanese Hefeweizen: Ginga-Kogen Ko Mugi Beer

My weekly trips to City Super at the Sogo Department Store in Tianmu have resulted in a number of beer finds.  I’ve found some of my favorite Belgian beers, some nice craft beers from the US, as well as the offerings of our local Taiwanese craft brewery.  Mixed in with the imports, I recently also found a few unusual cans and bottles from Japan that I thought may be worth a try.  These were all labeled entirely in Japanese, so I have no idea what any of them are, but as I open them and taste them, I’ll check into the details and share them here.

The first beer I opened from this group turned out to be a German Hefeweizen style beer from Ginga-Kogen Brewery.

Ginga Kogen Ko Mugi Hefeweizen

Ginga Kogen Ko Mugi Hefeweizen

Ginga Kogen has been around since 1996, and is from the Sawauchi village in Iwate prefecture, in North-Central Japan.  This area of Japan is known for their heavy snowfall, so it has rich, natural, fresh water.  The climate is similar to Bayern in German, which makes it a good fit for brewing this German-style beer.

The Hefeweizen I found here in Taiwan was a 350ml can of Ko Mugi beer.  The beer poured a cloudy, golden color with a rich white head.  Aromas of banana and spice, with a flavor of wheat and banana.  The beer reminded me of so many of the other Hefeweizens I’ve tried over the years, and was easily able to hold a candle to any of them.


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