Japanese Name: 北海道麦酒醸造株式会社 小樽麦酒オタルラガー
Brewer: Hokkaido Brewing
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Well, it’s time for the Big Four to step aside for a craft beer review. This lovely bottle was a gift from Hokkaido a couple weeks back. Last year, I wrote about Hokkaido Brewing’s pilser, so I’m happy to sample their lager. Instead of a can, Otaru Lager comes in a 330mL bottle.
Poured into a glass, Otaru lager has a wonderfully full and frothy head. Clean hops and malt are on the nose. The first gulp has a smooth mouth feel, lots of malt on the front, and covers the palate with lingering bubbles. The aftertaste is ever so slightly sweet, but a tart bitterness stays in the back of the mouth. Faint hints of burnt toast, roasted coffee beans are in the background.
Being a craft beer, Otaru Lager doesn’t have the “cleanness” you get in a Big Four brew, but is a delicious and very easy drinking beer. Those who like the more hoppy flavor craft beers provide will certainly enjoy this one. Interestingly the creamy head remains until the end, like the foam produced by waves crashing on a beach, adding a nice creamy touch to each mouthful. Outside of Hokkaido, Hokkaido Brewing can be found at some of the specialty liquor stores and can be ordered online directly [Japanese link].