From the information page on Suntory website, “Suntory Group is a global leader in consumer packaged goods, producing and distributing a uniquely diverse portfolio of beverages, premium spirits, beer and wine, and wellness products throughout the world.” In plain speak I would say that Suntory produces a wide varieties of beverages that span from Japanese whiskey, to beer, to sodas, and wine. Premium Malt is just one of the may products that the company produces. While the larger Suntory company can trace its history to 1899 with the manufacturing of wine, the Premium Malt brand was first released in 2003. Awarded the Monde Selection Grand Gold Medal three times. It is currently the top selling premium beer sold in Japan. Suntory has four breweries that brew Premium Malt beers. These beer use Diamond Malt which has an umami flavor and the brewing process uses decoction method. This is where during the mash process a portion of the wet grains are brought to a boil and then returned to the larger mash tun. This is done to ensure full maturation of the sugars from the malt and to raise the temperatures of the mash where different conversion take place. True to style of Pilsner, Suntory uses European hops, specifically Czech Hops. These hops give an earthy spiciness to the beer.
Premium Pilsner, 5.5% ABV
The initial aroma of malt sweetness similar to white cracker. A floral lightly earthy aroma comes from the hops. The beer pours a clear golden color with a long persisting white head made of tiny bubbles. A steady stream of carbonation bubbles rises up from the bottom of the glass to give a great presentation in a fluted glass. Good carbonation on the tongue and mouth. Clean crisp finish at the end of each sip. The beer is well balanced between malty sweetness and hop bitterness. The Pilsner appears to be fully attenuated and does not leave any lingering sweetness or over bitterness on the tongue. The hops contribute a floral and earthy spiciness flavor to the malt sweetness. The crispness of the finish cleans the pallet of all flavors from the previous sip. The distinct but not harsh bitter finish gives a completeness to the taste and leaves the drinker ready for the next sip. I can see this being a strong compliment for any food tasting, cleansing food flavors.
The clean crisp taste of the Pilsner would pair well with tempura foods. Specifically seafood. Tempura is made with water, eggs and wheat flower mixed together for the batter around seafood or vegetables. These pieces are quickly fried for a few seconds in vegetable or canola oil. The crisp finish of the Pilsner will cut through the grease of the tempora and essentially clear the pallet for the next bite. The Pilsner is not so dominant that the flavors will linger in the tempura taste. The heavy carbonation in the Pilsner will also assist in the cutting of flavors and grease from the tempura.
Japan has placed the prefecture we live in in a continued quasi-state of emergency to contain the coronavirus. Because of this bottle shops and liquor stores are not open and I can only get beer from grocery and convenience stores. The Premium Malt’s being the nations best seller is always available in nearly every grocery store. For this reason and the way it is made makes this beer easy to pair with most Japanese dishes. While Premium Pilsner is not the most interesting beer for me it is a known quantity and I know it will pair with most anything I go to pick up in the grocery store here. What other food pairings would you make with pilsners.