Craft Beer Japan: Distinctive Brews From the Land of Sunrise

Craft beer Japan is made of high-quality traditional ingredients. The craft beer scene in Japan rose during the mid-1990s. Previously, Japanese craft beers were not popular, but over time, it has grown into immense vogue, and Japan has become a top craft beer manufacturer in the East Asian market.

Craft beer japan

Take a look at the top craft beers in Japan our team has compiled in this extensive list!

Best Japanese Craft Beers

Japanese culture is unique, and so are the craft beers of Japan. While they are less popular than American or European craft beers, they are worth trying. 

There are also several beer festivals held throughout Japan each year, with some of the larger ones taking place in cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka. Here are the top 16 craft beers from Japan that you must try.

– Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

ABV: 7.5 percent

Color: Yellow

Style: English IPA

Kiuchi Brewery of Ibaraki-ken Naka-gun, Japan, founded in 1823, is one of the pioneers in the Japanese craft beer industry that started producing craft beer in 1997. The brewer uses locally sourced traditional ingredients to give their finished products a unique taste and flavor profile.

Hitachino nest japanese classic ale

For example, the Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale uses red rice with other carefully selected high-quality ingredients. It has a yellowish color with a nice frothy head. It offers a complex and full-bodied taste with a beautiful aroma of caramel and chocolate and a slightly bitter aftertaste. This is one of the few craft beers in Japan available abroad. 

The hoppy and malty flavors of the Japanese Classic Ale would pair well with grilled meats like steak, pork chops, or lamb. A variety of cheese, including blue cheese, Gorgonzola, or camembert, also go well with this beer.

– Yona Yona Ale

ABV: 5.5 percent

Color: Clear pale amber

Style: American Pale Ale

When YO-HO Brewing started its journey in 1996, it was a small beer brewery in Nagano, Japan. They wanted to draw attention to the fine Japanese craft beer scene. This is one of their popular craft beers — an American-style Pale Ale with a nice citrusy flavor and a floral aroma. 

Yona yona ale

It carries a medium body and is well-balanced with a smooth finish. The alcohol content is 5.5 percent, which makes it suitable for those who prefer mildly strong craft beers.

– Swan Lake Beer

ABV: 5 percent

Color: Clear golden

Style: Golden Ale

This is a Japanese craft beer that brings a unique taste to the craft beer industry. It is made with the finest methods and ingredients and brewed in the traditional Japanese way, delivering a truly unique flavor. The beer is light and refreshing, making it an excellent choice for any occasion. 

Swan lake beer

This drink has a subtle aroma of malt and hops, and its flavor has notes of caramel and citrus. It is smooth and easy to drink, and its low ABV makes it perfect for those looking for a more sessionable beer. 

– Shiga Kogen Beer

ABV: 6 percent

Color: Dark Caramel Orange

Style:  American IPA

Shiga Kogen Beer is a Japanese craft beer that quickly became one of Japan’s most popular craft beers. This beer is brewed using traditional methods and ingredients, including barley, hops, and yeast. The result is a smooth, full-bodied beer with a rich, malty flavor. 

Shiga kogen beer

The beer also has a light, refreshing finish, making it extremely drinkable. As with all craft beers, Shiga Kogen Beer is brewed in small batches, meaning that each batch is unique and has its flavor profile. This makes it a must-try for any craft beer enthusiast. The brewery also offers a variety of styles from lagers to IPAs, so there’s something for every taste. 

– Voyager Copper Ale

ABV: 6 percent

Color: Copper

Style: Pale Ale

Founded in 2015 in Tanabe city, Voyager Brewing is a relatively young company in the craft beer industry that produces high-quality craft beers. They brew their beers with the latest technology and have a state-of-the-art brewhouse with modern equipment and facilities.

Voyager copper ale

Voyager Copper ale is one of the iconic beers brewed by the company that is well-recognized for being a unique and distinctive product. It has a golden color with light foam and a sweet toffee and caramel flavor, followed by a moderate bitterness from the roasted malt. Its dry yet fruity aftertaste should leave an everlasting mark on the palate.


ABV: 9.5 percent

Color: Hazy Golden

Style: Imperial Stout

AJB Beer is a Japanese beer company known for its unique and delicious craft beers. The brewery has a varied selection of beers, from light and refreshing lagers to bold and flavorful IPAs. Each beer has its unique flavor, from the hoppy, citrusy notes of the IPA to the smooth, malty taste of the lager. 

Ajb craft beer

Their beers are sure to please even the pickiest of beer drinkers. You can find AJB beers in many stores and restaurants in Japan and online. And if you’re lucky, you can even find them in your local store! 

– Minoh Beer

ABV: 6 percent

Color: Dark Chocolate

Style: Pale Ale

A brewing company with over two decades of history in craft beer making, Minoh Beer is a manufacturer of premium beers that has built its reputation on the quality and integrity of its products. The company was established in 1996 by Masaji Oshit

Minoh beer

They brew a wide range of beers with a focus on quality and authenticity. Their flagship beer is Minoh Pilsner. It pours out a deep copper with a creamy foam that rises to the upper rim of the glass. It features a bright, crisp, refreshing flavor with a slight smokiness that lingers on the palate. This lager is perfect for enjoying hot summer days and goes perfectly with grilled food.

– Suruga Bay Imperial IPA 

ABV: 8.5 percent

Color: Dark Orange

Style: Imperial IPA

Another brewery that has been around since the early 2000s, Baird Brewing, has a long history of producing award-winning beers. They are known for their commitment to authenticity and tradition and have a wide variety of beers, including IPAs, pale ales, stouts, and more.

Suruga bay imperial ipa

Suruga Bay Imperial IPA stands out for its unmistakable dry palate. Thanks to the brewer’s multi-stage drying and fermentation, it comes with a powerful hop note. The beer has successfully achieved a complex yet balanced character with a unique combination of distinct aroma and delicious bitter taste, which will surely leave a permanent impression on your taste buds.

– Devil’s DeathMatch IPA

ABV: 7.1 percent

Color: Yellow

Style: American IPA

This craft beer is an example of how a Japanese brewery can make a quality American IPA. Brewed with the finest ingredients, the beer is well-known for its vibrant yellow color and a thick, creamy foam head that rises from within the glass, quickly dissipating into a thin layer of bubbles. 

Devils deathmatch ipa

It has a strong piney aroma and a hop flavor followed by a pleasantly dry and refreshing profile which is simply superb and leaves a lingering aftertaste on the palate. Its distinctive flavor is reminiscent of the bitterness of hops while keeping it balanced with the sweetness of malts. 

This IPA tastes like heaven when combined with an American-style pizza and is a must-try when visiting Japan. You would be surprised by the complexity of the taste with every sip.

– Ichigo Ichie

ABV: 5.9 percent

Color: Deep golden with a reddish tint

Style: Saison

Three friends, an American, a Canadian, and another from Wales, with a common passion for artisan beers, founded Kyoto Brewing in 2015 to bring their love for beer to the world. The brewery boasts an extensive range of beers. 

Ichigo ichie

This includes a whole host of seasonal releases and is worth a try whether you’re a fan of craft beer or not. One of the most popular beers is Ichigo Ichie, a rich amber ale with a delightful bitter taste. A noticeable citrus note and smoothness blend beautifully into a warm, slightly spicy finish. 

Its tropical fruity aftertaste perfectly compliments the base hop character that the company imports from New Zealand and America. The beer is perfect for those looking for a lighter alternative to a darker beer.

– Red Rose Amber Ale

ABV: 5.1 percent

Color: Dark

Style: American Pale Ale

Baird produces one of the most popular beers in Japan. When they started their beer-making journey, they were one of the smallest in the country. Still, now they have several taprooms across the country and have gone on to build a solid reputation for brewing truly Japanese craft beers.

Red rose amber ale

They have a strong line-up of IPAs, various stouts, and a pale ale widely available across Japan. Red Rose Amber Ale is one of their most liked beers. The beer is a rich amber ale with a delightful bitter taste. This beer has a distinctive lemon scent and an enjoyable hop flavor, which combines with the base malt character to give an excellent balance of body and mouthfeel.

– Koshihikari Echigo Beer

ABV: 5 percent

Color: Pale yellow 

Style: Rice Lager

When it comes to traditional Japanese Beer, Koshihikari Echigo is one such beer that is Japanese in the true sense, as the brewing process involves the usage of Koshikikari. For those unfamiliar with the word, Koshikikari is a short-grain rice harvested in Japan. 

Koshihikari echigo beer

Japanese short-grain rice is grown in Niigata Prefecture. The premium short-grain Japanese rice adds a unique flavor and taste to the beer. Brewed with the finest quality rice, the beer pours with a light white head and yellow body. One can also smell aromas of mild noble hops and grains.

The best part about this beer is it is gluten-free. The chief characteristics of this uniquely prepared beer include a light body, clarity, smooth, dry and crisp finish. The special rice used during the brewing process brings a mildly sweet flavor, whereas the different hops used in the beer can bring in floral, light herbal or lemon undertones.

– Ginga Kogen Wheat Beer

ABV: 5 percent

Color: Clear Yellow

Style: Wheat Ale

Ginga Kogen Wheat Beer was first introduced in 1996. The Ginga Kogen Beer is a Weizen-style beer with a distinctively fruity aroma and flavor, which is something most Japanese beer does not have. The beer boasts aromas of lemon, banana and cloves and is opaque straw yellow. 

Ginga kogen wheat beer

Additionally, it has a hazy appearance that results from the yeast used in the brewing process. Beer enthusiasts have loved Ginga Kogen Wheat Beer for more than two decades. Overall, it’s a wheat beer that you should always take advantage of.

– Sankt Gallen Golden Ale

ABV: 5 percent

Color: Golden

Style: American Pale ale

This American Pale Ale beer is lighter than any average pale beer. The Sankt Golden Ale boasts a hop profile that’s mainly American. As you directly sip it from the bottle, you will experience light notes of fresh pine and a moderate bitterness that comes from crystal malt grain. 

Sankt gallen golden ale

Brewed in Atsugi, West Kanagawa, Japan, this American-style pale ale is perfect for dinner dates.

– Madness IPA

ABV:  5.5 percent

Color: Dark Amber

Style: Double IPA

Established in 2018, Riot Beers is one of the few microbreweries in Tokyo that has been successfully brewing excellent beers for the past few years. This full-production craft brewery near Soshigaya-Oukra Station offers some unique blends of beers you won’t find anywhere else. 

Madness ipa

What’s unique and fun about Riot beers is that each of the beers is named after songs by popular brands. If you are a craft beer enthusiast and want to experience them in the true sense, visit this small brewpub, where you can try their popular Madness IPA. You won’t be disappointed!

– Captain Crow

ABV: 5 percent

Color: Clear Pale Amber

Style: American Pale Ale

Captain Crow is a well-brewed session beer that is lower in alcohol and intensity yet high in flavor. Though it’s labeled as pale ale, it has all the distinctive features of a session IPA. The light body, firmer bitterness, and low level of alcohol make it a good session IPA.

Captain crow

Captain crow has just 5 percent alcohol in it, which makes it fall under the light beer category, but it’s still hoppy. The beer boasts a refreshing hoppy aroma and has a light, clean taste with lasting bitterness. Due to its recent expansion, the brand can offer its beers at quite a cheap rate, making them accessible to the masses. If you are a light drinker looking for a craft beer with lesser intensity, this beer will be the best option.


In this guide above, we came across craft beers brewed in Japan and available for the masses. To help you decide what to drink and which will be the best per your preference, we have provided a list of the top 16 best craft beers in Japan. To sum it up, here’s a quick recap of craft beers in Japan.

  • Japanese craft beers are brewed in smaller quantities using premium quality traditional Japanese ingredients to offer a unique taste.
  • While there is no proper definition for Japanese craft beers, anything other than standard lagers is considered craft beer in Japan.
  • Most of them are produced in microbreweries across various parts of the country.
  • Special Japanese rice and wheat are common ingredients that are predominantly used in most Japanese craft beers.
  • Certain craft beers are also brewed with non-traditional ingredients to add distinctive characteristics to the beer.

To enjoy the taste of craft beers, you must visit craft beer microbreweries in different parts of the country.

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