World Beers: Far East
In each edition Take Stock will bring you a round-up of world beers; focusing on a country or continent.
With Chinese New Year (16 February) fast approaching, we asked Brian Yip of Wing Yip – the UK’s leading Chinese food and drink specialist – to give us a mini guide to East Asian beer and what to eat with it.
Asahi Super Dry
Asahi, pronounced ‘A-Sa-Hee’ means rising sun and is Japan’s number one beer. Developed in 1987 it was Japan’s first karakuchi or ‘dry beer’ – easy to drink, excellent with food and with a dry aftertaste. Citrusy and fresh tasting, Asahi is 5% ABV and brewed by Shepherd Neame in the UK.
Best with: Fried chicken, sushi and tsukemono side dishes
Sapporo is the oldest brand of beer in Japan, dating back to 1876. Created by Seibei Nakagawa – Japan’s first German-trained brewmaster, Sapporo Premium is slightly darker in colour than Asahi, it has a hoppier aroma and generally sweeter taste. Served ice cold, it’s very refreshing too. Considered by many to be the top Japanese beer, Sapporo is from 4.7% ABV and now brewed in the UK.
Best with: Ramen style dishes and sushi
Kirin Beer Ichiban
From one of the oldest Far Eastern breweries, this beer is named after a Chinese mythological creature – the Kirin – that is regarded as a harbinger of good luck. Produced exclusively from malt, hops and water, the beer uses just the first (ichiban) press of the wort, giving the beer a unique taste and flavour that’s elegant and refreshing. Now made under licence in the UK at 4.6%.
Best with: Spicy southern BBQ foods, wasabi-crusted Japanese dishes and curry-based Indian recipes
The Tsingtao brewery was founded in 1903 by German settlers in China, developing over the years into one of China’s largest beer producers and the world’s most widely exported Chinese beer. A 4.7% ABV pilsner style that was originally brewed to German standards, the modern version now includes rice as an adjunct to the mash. This, combined with the use of only Laoshan mountain spring water in the brewing process, gives Tsingtao a very drinkable taste. Uniquely, Tsingtao beer is not made under licence – so every bottle does truly originate from China. You’ll be serving your customers the genuine article!
Best with: Salads, Mexican food and spicy Asian dishes
As the name suggests this is actually a beer that’s brewed and bottled in Thailand, but goes really well with all types of Asian cuisine. Singha is a full-bodied 100% barley malt beer, brewed with three hops: Saaz, Perle and Hallertau. This gives it a rich earthy taste with, as you’d expect, a strong hoppy character.
Best with: Pad Thai, seafood and fish and chips
Originating from 1930s Singapore, Tiger Beer first reached the UK market in the 1980s. The product of a 500-hour brewing process, Tiger Beer is a 4.8% ABV full-bodied lager, with malty character and a crisp finish. It complements both spicy and fragrant dishes perfectly, making it an ideal partner for virtually every kind of Southeast Asian dish. This multi award-winning beer is, to many, the definitive Asian lager.
Best with: Spicy chicken salads, curries and fried chicken
Thought this was a Spanish beer? Well think again! In fact the San Miguel beer you’ll recognise from your Spanish holidays was first made in 1890 by a Spaniard in the district of San Miguel, Manila – capital of the Philippines. Since 1954 San Miguel has also been brewed in Spain and in more recent times, here in the UK. A 5% ABV pilsenstyle golden lager with a balanced, medium bitterness palate.
Best with: Tapas, moules frites and paella