Japanese Name: サントリー 和膳
Release: Apr. 8, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Purchase Price: ￥195 (6-Pack) @Aeon
Usually when one thinks of traditional Japanese foods (sushi, sit-down kaiseki cuisine), the go to beverage would be sake (or Nihonshu as they say here). However, beer is probably the predominantly served alcoholic beverage when consuming most “Japanese” foods (yakitori, izakaya dishes, etc), and matches perfectly the more heavily flavored dishes. In the realm of sushi, sashimi, and the more delicately flavored cuisine beer can overpower the dishes, so Suntory created Wazen to better match the qualities of Japanese cuisine. It is crafted with 5 types of malt and has more umami than your average brew. Unfortunately, I was not able to taste test Wazen with my favorite Japanese cuisine, but here are my thoughts.
Wazen pours out a darker hue than you would expect. Your first gulp, will reveal hints of malt and a slight bitterness going down the throat. Undertones of tangy sweetness stick hang around as you contemplate the flavor, of which there is not much to be said. Suntory Wazen is pretty much lacking in the flavor department. I drank a 6-pack trying to pin down something interesting to point out, but nothing.
I like the idea of a beer that goes well with Japanese foods, but Suntory Wazen takes the fun out of drinking the beer. Beer needs to show off its malt and hops. Personally, I drink beer with all my sashimi, sushi,… whatever. However, if I was sitting at Jiro’s I would definitely reach for a glass of cold nihonshu over Wazen.