Japanese Beer Time – Koshihikari Echigo

Koshihikari Echigo Japanese beer

So those of you who know me know that, in addition to beer, I’m a fan of all things Japanese. Two years living there, a decade or so of studying the language, and a moderate appreciation of their beers.

Although I’ve never had anything from Japan that isn’t a better-tasting version of roughly any American lager.

Kirin, Sapporo, Ebisu – rice-based lager beers, light-bodied, sweet, inoffensive and ultimately forgettable. Aside from the occasional black beer (Kirin Namakuro, not teribly bad), Japan, when I lived there, was basically the kind of country where Guinness represents the pinnacle of the bubbly goodness.

Koshihikari Echigo Japanese beerSo I was surprised to find a… different… beer from Japan in my local Whole Foods. Koshihikari Echigo. Brewed by the Uehara Shuzou Co., and having read a couple of brief articles on Japan’s burgeoning craft beer industry, I thought it was time to taste for myself.

Well. That was a long-winded intro. On to the beer.

Initial smell is a touch bit skunky – enough to give it some life, not enough to give me any concerns.

The taste is OK. Very Rolling Rock-y, if that is an adjective. It has that hint of green-bottle-lager, just a little… tart… and slightly skunky. Very slightly.

I’m not sure if this is intentional. I’ve had enough Heinekens and Rolling Rocks and Grolschs that it just seems to be a purposeful part of some beers. And here, it’s not bad. It gives at least a touch of flavor to what would otherwise be an even more unremarkable light lager.

Basically, it’s just not that good. It could be a Budweiser. You want a generic rice-based lager that’s harmless to the palette but looks fancy? Don’t want to have a big new taste, but you want to look worldly? Well, go ahead and grab a Koshihikari Echigo.

But if you want good beer, something light and sweet and interesting, perhaps you should look elsewhere. Maybe a Harpoon UFO White. Or a Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat.

Beer Name: Koshihikari Echigo
Brewed By: Uehara Shuzou Co. / Echigo Beer Pub, Niigata, Japan
Subsidiary Of: Independent
Alcohol By Volume: 5%
Beer Type: Japanese Rice Lager
Cap Type: Pry-off
Dan’s Score: 4/10

Tell me in the comments if you have any good Japanese craft beer recommendations. Do want to try something better than this.