Written by Chiara Mischke
5 Delicious Hokkaido Beers To Pick Up At New Chitose Airport
Sapporo Brewery is one of the most popular beer brands in Japan. Hokkaido beer is known for its unique and high-quality taste, often made with local ingredients. We picked 5 local beers that can easily be found at the New Chitose airport
Hokkaido - Known for Delicious Beer
Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is famous for being home to one of the most popular beer producers in Japan of the same name. The vast area of Hokkaido offers clear spring water and fresh produce to be used in the local beer making. This results in an extremely delicious and high-quality brew.
Hokkaido is a great place to try local beer varieties including everything from classic to unique. We selected five different kinds of beer brewed in Hokkaido that can easily be picked up at the New Chitose Airport.
1. Sapporo Classic - The Original Taste
If you ask locals which beer to try first, the answer will be most likely Sapporo Classic. It is still brewed according to the original recipe from the time Sapporo Brewery was founded in 1876. Sapporo Classic is made specifically to match the local climate and ingredients.
The taste is mellow and smooth. It is easy to drink, which is not true for all of Japanese beers, as they can have a slightly sharper taste than what some people's taste buds might be accustomed to.
While the can looks similar to Sapporo Black Label, which can be found everywhere in Japan, Sapporo Classic is limited to Hokkaido. Black Label is also more geared towards modern tastes and is slightly sharper compared to the mellow classic.
Sapporo Classic retails for about 200 yen per can.
2. Beer Works Chitose - Pirkawakka Pilsener
What better place to pick up a beer local to Chitose than New Chitose Airport? Pirkawakka Pilsner is brewed at the local Beer Works Chitose Brewery using water from the springs of Chitose as well as local malt, hops, and yeast.
Pirkawakka means "beautiful water" which points to the fact that the springs of Chitose are ranked amongst the top 100 natural waters of Japan. Pirkawakka has several different flavors to choose from, but a good place to start would probably be the beer tournament version shown above. This beer won the silver price in the Asia Beer Cup 2015.
The taste is rather unique: slightly sweet and fruity, but also sharp and dry. It retails for about 500 yen per bottle.
3. Otaru Beer - The Taste of the Famous Port Town
Otaru is a popular port town to visit when Hokkaido. The city is famous for some of the freshest fish and seafood in Hokkaido and they also have their own beer breweries.
Otaru Brewery was established in 1995. In 2019, four different kinds of beers are part of the regular line up.
Otaru Beer's names are all German, which can sometimes be seen in Japan. The label on the Pilsner (pale lager) is green, Weiss (wheat beer) is blue, Dunkel (dark) is red and Schwarz (black) is black.
Pilsner has a refreshing, slightly sharp taste. Weiss is a wheat beer style (also known as Belgium beer style), with a smooth and slightly sweet taste. Dunkel is rich with gentle sweetness, and amber in color. Schwarz is dark and has a pleasant bitter-sweet flavor.
Otaru Beers are all sold in glass bottles. Each retails for about 400 yen.
4. Hokkaido Beer Fruit Brewing - For Sweets Lovers
Hokkaido Beer is another brewery from Otaru. While they have a variety of common beer flavors, their fruit beer stands out. As of 2019, they have seven fruit beer flavors: Pear Lager, Lemon Lager, Honey Apple Ale, Cherry & Berry Ale, Melon Ale, Niagara (white grape) Ale and Peach White Ale. The color of the label is usually also the color of the fruit beer.
These beers are perfect for anyone who prefers sweeter cocktails. Each version is on the sweeter side with the clear taste of the fruit they represent. While they are sold as "fruit beer" it is rather hard to detect any beer flavor, but they are unique and delicious nevertheless.
Each bottle retails for about 400 yen.
5. Abashiri Brewery Drift Ice Draft - Blue Beer
Abashiri Drift Ice Draft went viral when it was first released a couple of years ago because it not only tastes delicious but it is also blue in color! Back then the Abashiri Brewery had a colorful beer for each season: blue for winter, pink for spring, green for summer and red for autumn. The only two still remaining from the original line-up are the blue and the green beer. There is a red Ababshiri beer called "drop of cherry", but it is not seasonally themed.
Abashiri Drift Ice Draft is available in cans or glass bottles. It is fruity and has a refreshing, slightly icy taste. It is recommended to pour it in a glass to enjoy the beautiful light blue color. The blue color is not only supposed to represent winter but also Hokkaido itself.
The green Abashiri Beer is called Shiretoko draft. It is mellow and less fruity, and you can almost taste a gentle grassy flavor. The green color of the beer is as cheerful and brilliant as a green leaf sparkling in the sun.
Each bottle retails for about 600 yen, and the Abashiri Drift Ice Draft can for about 300 yen.
Beer from Hokkaido - the Perfect Refreshment or Souvenir
Hopefully, we could give you some ideas on what kind of beers to pick up when you visit Hokkaido. These are not only great for a delicious refreshment but also make a thoughtful gift.
Don't forget to check them out if you have some time at Chitose Airport!