With a name that translates into “The Plateau of the Galaxy”, Ginga Kogen started in 1996 with a goal to brew authentic weizen beers. Weizen are beers brewed with at least 50% wheat grain as part of their list of grains used and can also be called wit or white beers. The brewery is located in the northern part of mainland Japan in the Iwate prefecture. It is situated at the base of Mount Waga in the village of Sawauchi. The annual snowfall to the mountain provides the water for this beer. The climate in that region of Japan replicates the German environment which is the area where wheat beers originated. The unique fruit and clove flavors that are found in these types of beers are created by the Hefeweizen yeast strain.
Hefeweizen, 5% ABV
A banana clove aroma is picked up on the nose. Cracker malt sweetness comes behind the more dominant banana scent. The color of the head is a yellow white color that slowly dissipates. The beer’s color is an orange golden hue. Traditionally Hefeweizens are unfiltered leading to a cloudy finished product in the glass. Slightly cloudy when first poured, but clears as beer warms. The beer clears to the point I can see through the glass. There are filtered wheat beers so this is not necessarily against style. A persistent steady stream of carbonation bubbles comes up from the bottom of the glass. This gives a good wheat beer look if the traditional flute glass is used to serve the beer. Carbonation is felt on the tongue and sides of the mouth. Banana flavor is present but not as dominant in the taste as is in the smell. Finish is crisp with no lingering flavors but there is a tingling in the mouth Subsequent taste give more of the esters of cloves from the yeast strain.
Down the street from our house in Japan is the Awase Fish Market. this market is tied to the Awase fishing port where local fishermen bring in their daily catch. The market has a small resultant with limited seafood meal sets. One of these is a roasted half lobster. The clean taste of the shellfish meat would pair nicely with the soft wheat flavors of this beer. The butter and oil of the seasoning of the lobster will be cut by the crisp carbonation from the Hefeweizen. Neither the beer or shellfish are dominant enough to overpower the other and the two will marry nicely into a pleasant dining experience.