Japanese Cuisine

Abashiri Prison Stout Review: The Kind Of Beer You’d Enjoy In Front Of An Open Fire

In my mission to learn more about Japan, I’ve taken to trying different kind of Japanese alcohol. Whether it’s a nutty tasting nihonshu or smoky shochu, nothing is off limits. On the Japanese beer front, I’ve never really known anything beyond a bottle of universally accepted Kirin or Asahi. So, stepping outside of my comfort zone with a bottle of Abashiri Kangoku no Kuro (Prison Stout) was a delight.


This particular kind of craft beer is made by the Abashiri brewery in the town of the same name. Founded in 1998, Abashiri specialise in low-malt beers, also known as the happoshu grade. This means the beers contain something between 67% to 88% malt during brewing. The rest of the ingredients differ between scallops, corn and other unique fare.

When doing some research on the beer itself, I found out a few interesting points. The name is inspired by the real Abashiri prison that was used during the Meji period to house political prisoners. With a deep black colour, it’s definitely grim looking enough to look like something you’d drink in jail.

Tasting notes

When poured into a glass, the Abashiri prison stout has a decent head on it. A smoky, coffee smell comes through on the nose. Hints of coffee continue to persist on the tongue. But soon they are joined by notes of chocolate and toffee. There’s even a slight undercurrent of pepper that sneaks it at the very end of the sip.

In other words, the beer was richer than I thought it would be. It’s definitely the kind of drink that you’d want to savour in front of an open fire, rather than downing it on a night out with your mates. Would I order myself another? Absolutely.

Buy yourself a bottle and see what you think.

2 thoughts on “Abashiri Prison Stout Review: The Kind Of Beer You’d Enjoy In Front Of An Open Fire

  1. My local supermarket had this once and I was lucky enough to get a bottle. It may be my all time favorite beer. Definitely in the top 5 at least. Also, Abashiri Prison is featured prominently in Golden Kamuy so, if you’re a fan of the manga or anime, that’s one more reason to try it.


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