The craft beer boom has given breweries an unprecedented amount of freedom to test new flavours and constantly reinvent the idea of what makes a refreshing pint. Japanese breweries like the Shimane Beer Company are at the forefront of this runaway success, producing a wide range of craft beer that can now be found all over the world.
A beer I tried from the brewery recently was Shimane Weizen, a 5% German-style hefeweizen that went down only too well.
Founded in 1998, Shimane is located in Matsue city in Shimane prefecture. The brewery has always been small, with four people working around the clock to produce award-winning Japanese craft beer. The Weizen is a reflection of the brewery’s devotion to craftmanship, having won gold and silver medals at the International Beer Competition and World Beer Awards.
The bottle has a dynamic orange label with the face of writer Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, also known as Koizumi Yakumo. Hearn is famous for his books about Japan and giving insight into the country during a time when there was very little knowledge about Japanese culture in the west.
With an attractive golden colour and soft head, the Weizen is a truly excellent wheat beer.
Pleasant aromas of banana and apple rise from the glass. The fruity overtones become even stronger on the first sip, spreading through the mouth on a gentle tide of flavour. Spicy notes of ginger and cinnamon come next, bolstered by a savoury clove mouthfeel that reaches the back of the throat.
The Weizen has a refreshing quality that makes each sip more delightful than the last. It’s not the type of beer that needs to be rushed but makes for easy drinking. Smooth, fresh and pillowy, it’s not hard to see why the beer has won awards.