beer

We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

Eating and drinking are two of our favorite necessary life functions, since they’re both so much more fun than sleeping and breathing. So when we heard, back in January, about a new beer from Suntory that’s specially designed to go well with Japanese food, our three months of anxious waiting until it was scheduled to go on sale started right away.

Well, spring is finally here, and we’ve just recently experienced the joys of stepping outside without an overcoat and admiring the cherry blossoms, so now it’s time for the last item on our checklist of vernal pleasures, as we sample a can of Suntory’s new Japan-centric brew, the all-malt Wazen.

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George Clooney appears in Kirin beer ad, sounds a bit like Batman when he speaks Japanese

George Clooney appears in Kirin beer ad, sounds a bit like Batman when he speaks Japanese

As we’ve seen before, Hollywood stars who ordinarily wouldn’t be seen dead in a commercial in their homeland for fear of damaging their reputation as a serious actor aren’t quite so shy when it comes to commercials in Japan. With Japanese companies eager to push stacks of cash stars’ way in exchange for endorsing their products, occasionally a big-name actor will pop up on billboards over the famous Shibuya scramble intersection and on primetime TV.

This week, smirking silver fox George Clooney follows in Leonardo DiCaprio‘s footsteps by lending his face to a Japanese commercial, in this case one for Kirin Brewery Company’s Green Label brand of beer. Clooney is no stranger to ads even at home, but Kirin’s commercial – which sees the actor painting a house and communicating with a small bird – is kind of an odd one, partly because it doesn’t have an awful lot to do with beer, and partly because, to our ears at least, Clooney appears to be channeling Christian Bale’s Batman for his single word of Japanese dialogue.

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Asahi puts a new twist(er) on draft beer

Asahi puts a new twist(er) on draft beer

Japan’s most popular alcoholic drink is beer—and now it’s easier than ever to serve perfectly! True to form for a country known for automation, Japanese brewer Asahi has released the Tornado: a machine that automatically fills cups with beer. Rather than pouring, the spigot connects to the bottom of the specially-formed cup, filling it from the bottom up. As it fills, the foam swirls, resembling a—you guessed it—tornado!

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Kuos Beer promises all the flavor of beer without any of the other fun stuff

Kuos Beer promises all the flavor of beer without any of the other fun stuff

If you’re not a fan of watery beer, then the new beer Kuos is definitely not for you. It’s about as watery as a beer could possibly get. In fact, although it’s a beer by name, Kuos is better described as a carbonated water with the pleasant bouquet of delicious ale.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to cut back on alcohol, carbs, and/or calories without loosing the beer drinking experience then Kuos may be perfect for you since it contains absolutely none of those things.

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Pouring beer into a very hot frying pan is surprisingly interesting

Pouring beer into a very hot frying pan is surprisingly interesting

Have you ever seen what happens when you pour beer onto a strongly heated frying pan? Probably not since few people are willing to waste it in such a way. But if you did you might have been surprised at the magical little show that takes place.

In the following video we can see that the beer takes the form of little spheres that seem to float over the surface of the pan. In fact, they are floating as a result of something called the Leidenfrost effect.

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Saitama cafe offers outdoor baths, books, beer, massages, hammocks, and no reason to leave

Saitama cafe offers outdoor baths, books, beer, massages, hammocks, and no reason to leave

The basic idea of going to a cafe is that it’s a place to relax for an hour or so. You can sit down and have a cup of coffee, but eventually you’re going to get hungry, smelly, or sleepy. Sooner or later you’ll need to leave and go somewhere else for a real meal, hot bath, and good night’s sleep.

Unless, of course, you stop by a unique cafe in Saitama Prefecture, which not only has luxurious Japanese-style bathing facilities, but just about everything you need for a comfortable lifestyle.

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Bar with all-you-can drink beer and sake + no time limit = limitless bliss

Bar with all-you-can drink beer and sake + no time limit = limitless bliss

In my time in Japan, I’ve been asked to leave numerous drinking establishments. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. It wasn’t because I was causing a disturbance (well, except for that one time in college), or because I was charming all the women and not leaving any for the other male customers (well, except for….wait, no, that really didn’t ever happen).

The polite requests for me to exit bars come from the wonderful system called nomi hodai, where you pay a flat fee and are served as much booze as you like. The standard time limit is two hours, although some places have budget priced 90-minute plans, and others are more generous with three-hour deals. It’s always a downer when the wait staff tells you your time’s up, but after all, they have to cut the customers off at some point, right?

Not at a new bar in Tokyo, where paying the entrance fee gets you an unlimited amount of sake and beer with no time limit.

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Somehow, underage drinking in Japan is about to get even easier

Somehow, underage drinking in Japan is about to get even easier

I’ve never been bothered by being asked for proof of age when buying beer. Maybe it’s because even when I was 16 I apparently already looked old enough that strangers in convenience store parking lots would ask me to buy a six pack for them, but I never took a clerk asking to see my ID as an insult. I simply accepted it as part of the societal dance necessary to procure my beloved barley juice.

Some drinkers in Japan, though, take offense at being asked for proof that they’re not minors. The Aeon Group, one of Japan’s largest retailers, has responded with a generous change in policy, and will no longer ask certain customers for confirmation of age, despite the fact that Japan’s underage drinking prevention is already ridiculously easy to circumvent.

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Mint chocolate beer sounds great, but how does it taste? We find out

Mint chocolate beer sounds great, but how does it taste? We find out

Every year at Valentine’s Day, a slew of limited-edition chocolates are rolled out in Japan, where following the local custom, women give gifts to men. Unfortunately, while there are indeed plenty of guys with a sweet tooth, few of them really want candies shaped like butterflies and rosebuds.

Thankfully, there are a handful of more masculine alternatives, such as the Final Fantasy chocolates we recently introduced you to. But you know what’s even more manly than a video game about a dude killing monsters with a giant sword while his hot martial artist girlfriend cheers him on? Booze. Which is why today we’re knocking back a mint chocolate beer.

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Foreign residents pick their favorite snacks to pair with Japanese beer

Foreign residents pick their favorite snacks to pair with Japanese beer

A few years ago, I was hanging out with a friend in Tokyo. Being recently married meant that for the first time in several years I was living in an apartment more spacious and comfortable than a bunker, and I invited my buddy back to my place for a beer.

I called my wife to give her a heads-up that I was bringing home a guest, and when we arrived, I was surprised to see she’d gone down the block to the store and picked up a selection of snacks for our impromptu drinking session. In hindsight, this really shouldn’t have been so unexpected, as beer is almost always accompanied by food in Japan.

Our memories are a little hazy, but we seem to remember being taught, “When in Rome, drink as the Romans.” Taking this to heart, recently a group of foreign residents in Japan shared their favorite munchies to pair with Japanese beer.

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Suntory to release new beer designed specifically for consumption with Japanese food

Suntory to release new beer designed specifically for consumption with Japanese food

There’s been a lot of research into the mystery of umami, the mild, pleasing savoury flavour that’s said to exist at the heart of Japanese cuisine. Often referred to as “the fifth taste”, alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter, umami was first discovered by a Japanese professor and only officially recognised as a proper scientific term in 1985. Now, almost thirty years later, the delicate flavour is finally set to meet its perfect partner in a beer called Wazen (lit. Japanese meal). Due for release on April 8, the beer is being billed as “the beer for Japanese food”.

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Does Japan really need company drinking parties?

Does Japan really need company drinking parties?

Among the Japanese language’s many unique loanword mashups is nominikeshon, a hybrid of “nomi / drinking” and the English “communication.” Nominikeshon is a term that gets applied to the common Japanese business practice of workers from the same company going out together for a beer (or six) after work, and hopefully strengthening their bond along the way.

But even if you’ve technically punched out, if you have to spend time with your boss, with a large chunk of it used to talk shop, couldn’t you make the argument that you’re still working? In which case shouldn’t you get paid for drinking with your coworkers?

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How to make good use of flat, leftover beer from your Christmas party

How to make good use of flat, leftover beer from your Christmas party

Ever had the problem of undrunk beer sitting round wastefully in bottles, cans or glasses after a house party? Sigh. It’s flat, warm and disgusting. You could play a hearty round of morning-after beer roulette, the thrilling game where if you find a half-empty vessel, you challenge someone to rock-scissors-paper and the winner downs it in one (possible floating cigarette butt and all).

But here’s the beer problem solved more efficiently—waste not, want not. Here are some creative and unexpected uses for old beer that folks came up with in Japan!

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Why you should eat wasabi with your sushi – the secrets behind 10 Japanese food pairings

Why you should eat wasabi with your sushi – the secrets behind 10 Japanese food pairings

Traditions are taken very seriously in Japan, and one of the most noticeable examples is Japanese food. Certain foods and seasonings are always paired together, and while it may be tempting to dismiss this as just another example of the cultural homogeneity of an island nation, in several cases there are legitimate health benefits to these standard combinations.

Following are 10 culinary collaborations that won’t just fill you up and satisfy your taste buds, but leave you a little healthier, too.

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Victory beer fights: Japanese baseball’s controversial tradition

Victory beer fights: Japanese baseball’s controversial tradition

There are no Gatorade showers or milk drinking to be seen after winning a baseball game in Japan, just beer rocketing out of thousands of shaken bottles. Let’s take a look at the Japanese baseball tradition of victory beer fights.

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Aomori Garlic Black Beer: That great, people-repelling aftertaste of gyoza, now from a beverage!

Aomori Garlic Black Beer: That great, people-repelling aftertaste of gyoza, now from a beverage!

All around Japan, various craft brews are sold each with their own unique twist on the widely-loved beverage. For beer connoisseurs, part of the fun of domestic traveling can be trying to unearth hidden brews scattered across the land.

For example, out of Aomori Prefecture, known as the garlic-producing leader of the nation, comes Aomori Garlic Black Beer. Our reporter, Mami, spotted some in the wild and decided to try it out. The combination of beer and garlic had potential, and Aomori certainly know their garlic. What could go possibly wrong?

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Pitch black sesame garlic ramen at craft brewer’s restaurant stirs our hearts while filling our bellies

Pitch black sesame garlic ramen at craft brewer’s restaurant stirs our hearts while filling our bellies

When dining out in Japan, there is a commonly accepted truism that you get the tastiest example of a particular type of food by eating it in a restaurant that specializes in it. For example, if you want good ramen, you go to a place that serves that and little, if anything, else.

Speaking of Japan’s favorite noodle dish, popular wisdom also holds that the dingier the ramen restaurant, the better-tasting the food.

So imagine our surprise when we discovered that the Yona Yona Beer Kitchen, a classy restaurant with a full menu in Tokyo’s swanky Nagata-cho neighborhood, can also whip up a bowl of ramen that’s as delicious as it is visually striking.

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Japan’s 20 best free sightseeing spots

Japan’s 20 best free sightseeing spots

Even with the falling yen making Japan more affordable for international travelers, the country still isn’t exactly a bargain destination. Likewise, even local residents, who recently went through the double whammy of paying quarterly resident taxes and an announcement that sales tax will jump to 8 percent next year, are looking to stretch their entertainment budgets.

Thankfully, travel site Trip Advisor recently announced the results of its survey regarding the top 20 free sightseeing locations in Japan.

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She doesn’t need beer goggles to look cute, but we try Hello Kitty Beer anyway

She doesn’t need beer goggles to look cute, but we try Hello Kitty Beer anyway

As Japan’s most prodigious celebrity endorser, Hello Kitty certainly keeps busy. In this month alone, we’ve seen her grace Toshiba’s SD cards, and even transform herself into a cute, cuddly dislocated tooth to hawk toothpaste.

With such a hectic work schedule, it’s understandable that Kitty-chan should want to relax the same way many of us do after coming home from a long, hard day at the office: by cracking open a cold beer. Even then though, the hard-working feline is on the clock, with a new line of Hello Kitty Beer.

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Japan waits with baited breath for local distributor of spreadable beer

Japan waits with baited breath for local distributor of spreadable beer

These past few days, the Internet has exploded with word of Italy’s new beer spread. For a land like Japan, where beer is more than just a popular choice of beverage and is more-or-less central to their lifestyle, the invention of spreadable beer is cause for great excitement. Soon, rather than have a handful of snacks with their mugs full of beer, they’ll be spreading blobs of beer over their favorite snacks!

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