Two weeks ago, I got the amazing opportunity to attend a beer tasting hosted by Japanese Craft Beer. I had the best time learning about the history of Japanese beer and tasting some brews from their portfolio. The experience inspired me so much that I created a popcorn chicken recipe to pair with all my favorite beers from the tasting.
Learning the history of Japanese craft brewing
I am a huge beer aficionado, but prior to the event, I had absolutely no knowledge of Japanese beer culture. Thankfully, we had an awesome host: Ry Beville, Founder of Japan Beer Times, who impressed us all with his deep knowledge of Japanese beer culture and craft brewing history.
Japanese beer is heavily influenced by German and sake brewing practices. Back in 1995, the Japanese government lifted their ban on low volume brewing which set the stage for the rise in craft breweries. At the time, many of the people who jumped into this space were sake brewers simply because they could apply some of their knowledge from brewing sake to brewing beer. Other brewers took their cues from German brewing practices.
Little by little, small breweries started to pop up all around Japan even in the more rural areas. One of the goals was to attract tourists with beer! Nowadays, beer is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. A common phrase that people often use at social gatherings means “just give me a beer”.
My favorite beers from the tasting
We had 7 beers at the tasting. All the beers were so Japanese. What I mean by that is each beer celebrates the minimalism we associate with Japanese culture. They were all light and fresh, and would go extremely well with any dish in Japanese cuisine. 4 of the 7 were my favorites.
Hitachino Nest White Ale from Kiuchi Brewery
I absolutely loved this beer! It was extremely light with slight notes of citrus and nutmeg. The citrus flavor made this beer so refreshing, and I could see myself sitting on a beach somewhere on a summers day just sipping the day away. Also, isn’t the packaging adorable?!
Wabi-Sabi Japan Pale Ale from Baird Brewing Company
One of the most surprising beers from the tasting. This beer is a pale ale seasoned with wasabi and green tea. Ry was explaining how difficult it is to brew with green tea because of how in-your-face the essence of green tea can be. The beer was pretty light for a pale ale and the green tea flavor was very subtle, more subtle than I was expecting. I’ve used matcha for years in my cooking, and the green tea flavor is always very pronounced.
Coedo Ruri from Coedo Brewery Kyodoshoji Corp
This was first and lightest beer of the tasting. I am a huge pilsner fan, so this one was definitely for me. It was so refreshing and the perfect introduction to our tasting. Because of it’s light nature, it’s no surprise that this beer is best paired with sushi!
Cyonmage Pale Ale from Yamaguchi Hagi Beer Co
This English style beer was one of the stronger brews we tried, but I still loved it. It had touches of fruit flavors with some bitterness mixed in. I thought the balance of bitter and sweet worked well. One of the most interesting things about this beer is that it comes from a rural prefecture, and it was created to attract tourists to the area.
My Asian style popcorn chicken
The tasting event truly inspired me. So much so that I created a recipe for Asian style popcorn chicken that would pair well with any of these beers. Popcorn chicken is the ultimate bar food in my opinion. Super simple ingredients. Easy to make. And super yummy on my tastebuds. I added a splash of fish sauce and white pepper to give it that Asian flair.
Thank you to Japanese Craft Beer for sponsoring this post.
Asian Style Popcorn Chicken
- 1 lb chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 egg
- 2 cups corn starch
- 3 cups vegetable oil
- 1 stalk green onions minced
- Combine all the ingredients through the egg in a large bowl. Marinate for 10 minutes.
- Add the corn starch to another large bowl and set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees F. Coat the chicken with corn starch and drop it in batches into the vegetable oil. Fry for 3-4 minutes until they are golden brown on the outside. Don't over crowd the pan. Fry 6-8 pieces at a time.
- After frying, place the chicken onto paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- Garnish with green onions and serve.