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Jan 22, 2008 12:46 PM

Yebisu-Japan's Finest IMO

I'm a big fan of Yebisu, which Sapporo has released in NY, CA, and HI as of this month. Has anyone been somewhere that had it (restaurant or shop)?

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  1. I'm guessing you've never had Hitachino.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Hitachino? Never tried it. Where could I pick some up?

      1. re: JSHAFT78

        Hard to say, it depends on the distribution in your area. I know you can find it on the West and East coasts, not sure about the flyover states. They're an interesting brewery - they make Belgian (witbier, spiced holiday ale), English (milk stout), and German (weizen) traditional styles, as well as some decidedly unique Asian styles (brown ale with ginger, red rice ale, Japanese IPA aged in cedar casks).

        Well worth seeking out.

        1. re: Josh

          JSHAFT, you can find Hitachino beers in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I personally don't think all that much of them. They're just sort of the first Japanese micro-brewery to market substantially in the U.S. But they're around. Expensive too. If you check out's "Brew News" you can learn a lot (everything?) about the beer scene in Japan....I like Ebisu a lot also.

          1. re: Silverjay

            Interesting! You're probably the first person I've encountered who doesn't care for them. Which did you have?

            I'm not a huge fan of the Red Rice Ale or the Espresso Stout, or the Japanese Classic Ale, but for my money their witbier is one of the best on the market (took gold, too, at WBC if I'm not mistaken). The sake barrel-aged XH is one of the best wood-aged beers I've encountered.

            1. re: Josh

              I've had the Red Rice Ale and the Classic Ale. Not impressed. I'll check out the two you recommend. Thanks for mentioning them.

              1. re: Silverjay

                Yeah, those are their two weakest beers, IMO. The XH is tremendous. If you're in NYC, I picked up some at the Whole Foods on Columbus Circle after sampling it at Blind Tiger.

              2. re: Josh

                I'd have to disagree about their white ale being one of the best on the market. Admittedly, it's not my favorite style, but it just seemed to me that there are equally good, if not better, and far fresher versions available from domestic producers such as Allagash and Ommegang. The domestic ones are generally significantly less expensive, too.

                1. re: braineater

                  Witbier is one of my favorite styles, and the only domestic I had that I thought really compared to Hitachino's was Brooklyn Brewery's amazing Blanche de Brooklyn. I wouldn't put Allagash or Ommegang on the same level as either of these (though I agree both are great beers).

                  I recently had an awesome local witbier, actually, made with lime zest and chamomile. Very interesting and refreshing.

                  1. re: Josh

                    I'm with Josh on Hitachino Nest White, I think it's an excellent belgian style wit beer and great with Asian food in particular. I get a little ginger in the flavor, I'm not sure if that's an ingredient though. With Belgian styles you never know. Allagash White is a nice one, and I typically recommend it for novice beer drinkers who might be put off by bitter hops. But Hitachino Nest White, with the owl on the bottle, is definitely up there among my favorites in a style I enjoy quite a bit.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Interesting because the brewer of Hitachino, Kiuchi Shuzo, has a good relationship with Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn, and apparently has been making Brooklyn Lager in Japan under contract. By the way, Hitachino's white is quite far away from a Belgian Witbier, and is really in a category of its own.

                  2. re: Josh

                    I`ve only had the white ale but yeah didn`t think that much of it either, doesn`t compare to `Three Boys Beer` from New Zealand.

              3. re: JSHAFT78

                I've found Hitachino at Trader Joe's in NYC.

                1. re: JSHAFT78

                  There is a casual/fine dining Japanese restaurant called Origami Sushi that carries Sapporo, Asahi, Kirin and Hitachino. It is an authentic Japanese family owned establishment that has both sushi and traditional Japanese cuisine. There is one in Minneapolis MN, Minnetonka MN and another opening soon in Edina MN. Below are links to their site. I highly recommend checking them out.

                  Origami: Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar
                  30 N 1st St # 1, Minneapolis, MN

                  Origami West
                  12305 Wayzata Blvd,, Minnetonka, MN 55305

              4. I had a bottle of Kirin Special Premium Reserve (made by A-B in CA?) the other day at a Japanese restaurant and really enjoyed it. Crisp, clean malt base with substantial hop flavor/aroma - may have been a little skunky - or just alot of hops for the style -hard to tell sometimes with noble type hops, but reminded me of what Beck's used to taste like back in the late 80's. For industrial lager it was pretty good and thankfully didn't taste anything like Bud's yeast profile.

                2 Replies
                1. re: LStaff

                  I've had the Kirin you mentioned LStaff, and I enjoyed it as well. I didn't experience the somewhat skuny aroma you did though. Hitachino sounds very intriguing, I'll look into that. When I was in Japan, I actually visited the Sapporo brewery and was suprised to find out that all the major Japanese beeers(Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo) were all once(albeit far back) the same company!

                  1. re: JSHAFT78

                    Don't know what state you live in, but you can get Hitachino in Minnesota (one of the hipper flyover states).

                2. Just in case you're still looking - we had some last night at Ebisu in Little Tokyo. It's on 2nd Street. They had a sign out front saying they serve Yebisu beer, so of course we had to go in. We had already eaten dinner, so I don't know what the food is like.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: norton44

                    Oops, forgot to mention that I'm talking about Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. Sorry.

                  2. Izakaya Mai in downtown San Mateo has posters up that it serves Yebisu beer.

                    Izakaya Mai Restaurant
                    212 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

                    1. i'm a fan of the kizakura line of beers coming out of kyoto. not sure if you can get them in north america but they were pretty pricey over there at about 500-600Y a pop.