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What is Kirin Ichiban Beer?

Photo by Mark Hillary CC BY 2.0

Kirin Ichiban is an iconic Japanese beer that has been enjoyed across the globe since its launch in 1988.

A product of Kirin Brewery, this light-bodied, crisp lager is made using only the finest ingredients and brewed according to a traditional brewing method, making it one of the most popular beer brands in Japan.

Brief History of Kirin Ichiban

Kirin Ichiban is a product of the Kirin Brewery, which was founded in 1907 and is one of Japan’s largest breweries. Their flagship beer, Kirin Ichiban, was first brewed in 1988 and quickly became popular across Japan, eventually expanding to over 60 countries worldwide.

The name “Kirin Ichiban” refers to the Japanese word for “first-class” or “number one beer” and reflects the brewery’s commitment to its high-quality standards

How is Kirin Ichiban Beer Made?

Kirin Ichiban is a Japanese lager that is brewed with only the finest ingredients according to a traditional brewing process. The main ingredients are malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. The malt is grown in local fields before being mixed with hops which give the lager its characteristic bitterness and aroma.

This mixture undergoes multiple steps of controlled fermentation followed by maturation to create the finished beer.

Popularity and Distribution Around the World

Kirin Ichiban has become increasingly popular over time and can now be found in over 60 countries around the world. It is especially popular in Japan, Europe, North America, South America, and Australia.

The appeal of Kirin Ichiban lies in its light body and crisp flavor which makes it a popular choice for any occasion. Its distribution has increased greatly in the past few years due to its ever-growing popularity.

The Brewing Process of Kirin Ichiban

Kirin Ichiban beer is a popular Japanese lager that is brewed using the company’s unique “First Press” method. This method is one of the reasons why Kirin Ichiban has become such a beloved beer. In this section, we’ll explore the brewing process of Kirin Ichiban and how its special ingredients and production process creates its distinct flavor.

Ingredients Used in Kirin Ichiban and their Sourcing

Kirin Ichiban is brewed with only four key ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast. The company sources its malt from Canada and its hops from Europe, Japan, and other countries around the world. The yeast used in Kirin Ichiban is a house yeast strain exclusively developed by the company that has been specially cultivated in Japan since 1931.

Overview of the Brewing Process

The brewing process for Kirin Ichiban begins with a unique mashing process that requires multiple mashing phases at different temperatures to bring out flavor compounds that would not be present in conventional beers where only one mashing temperature is used.

Then boiling takes place at an altered temperature to extract maximum hop aroma and bitterness before entering fermentation where the yeast works to create alcohol and carbonation by consuming sugars created during boiling.

Finally, aging takes place for many weeks to allow flavors to fully develop and mature before being packaged for sale.

The Unique “First Press” Method Used in Kirin Ichiban

The most intriguing part about Kirin Ichiban beer is its “First Press” method which was designed to maximize flavor extraction from barley grains during mashing (the step before boiling).

This method involves utilizing low-temperature heated water for longer periods of time during mashes which allows more flavorful components to be obtained from barley grains than if high temperatures are used for shorter periods of time.

This results in more complex aromas and flavors ranging from honey-like sweetness to grainy flavors that can not be achieved with conventional methods of brewing beer.

Kirin Ichiban Tasting Notes

Kirin Ichiban is a light-bodied lager with a smooth, balanced flavor that pairs well with light foods. It has a slightly sweet and malty aroma, with slight notes of hops and citrus. The beer is light golden in color and has an ABV of 5%. The finish is crisp and clean, leaving you refreshed and satisfied.

The Beer’s Appearance, Aroma, and Flavor

Kirin Ichiban has a light golden hue with a slightly sweet maltiness on the nose. The aroma also has slight notes of hops and citrus that come through as you drink it.

When tasting this beer, it’s smooth and mellow on the palate with a balanced flavor that’s both subtle and complex. It finishes crisp and clean with just enough bitterness to leave you feeling refreshed after each sip.

Comparison of Kirin Ichiban to Other Beers

Kirin Ichiban stands out from other beers in its category due to its unique flavor profile and balance between sweetness, bitterness, hops, and maltiness.

Compared to other popular lagers in the same style such as Budweiser or Miller Lite, Kirin Ichiban has a more complex flavor profile which makes it ideal for pairing with lighter foods such as fish or salads.

Additionally, its ABV makes it more suitable for casual drinking than some other lagers which have higher alcohol content levels.

Pairing Suggestions

Kirin Ichiban is the perfect accompaniment to any meal. Its crisp, light flavor profile pairs nicely with a variety of different cuisines.

Its subtle sweetness plays off the acidity of Japanese dishes, while its light body is perfect for seafood and salads. Here are a few suggestions for pairing Kirin Ichiban with food:

Recommendations for foods that pair well with Kirin Ichiban

  • Lightly seasoned grilled fish and seafood
  • Salads with light, oil-based dressings
  • Sushi and sashimi
  • Delicate Japanese dishes such as tempura or teriyaki dishes
  • Light pastas and stir-fries
  • Fried or baked chicken

Flavor Profile Complements Different Types of Cuisine

Kirin Ichiban’s crisp, light flavor makes it an ideal accompaniment to a variety of cuisines. Its subtle sweetness plays off the acidity of Japanese dishes, while its light body complements the delicate flavors of seafood and salads.

The balanced maltiness and low carbonation make it an ideal choice to pair with light pastas, stir-fries, and fried or baked chicken.

Serving Temperatures and Glassware

Kirin Ichiban is best served chilled, at a temperature of 40 – 45°F. To get the most out of the flavor profile, serve Kirin Ichiban in a tall pilsner glass, which allows the aromas to be released and enjoyed.

Sustainability and Community Involvement

Kirin Ichiban, the flagship brand of Japan’s largest brewer, Kirin, is committed to sustainability in production and distribution. Kirin Ichiban uses renewable energy sources in all locations to offset its carbon footprint.

In addition, it creates eco-friendly packaging materials that ensure minimal environmental impact. For example, its PET bottle is made from 100% recycled materials, and its cans are made from aluminum that containing 20% recycled material.

Kirin Ichiban’s Involvement in Local Communities

Kirin Ichiban believes in supporting the local communities where it operates. It has engaged in various activities such as sponsoring cultural events and organizations throughout Japan.

For example, it sponsors the Japan Beer Championships—an annual event that features craft beer from around the country. It also partners with local organizations such as the Japan Brewers’ Association (JBA) in order to promote craft beer culture throughout Japan.

In addition to supporting local communities through sponsorships and partnerships with cultural events and organizations, Kirin Ichiban also takes steps to help support small independent breweries by providing capital for expansion projects and technical support for brewing operations.

Kirin Ichiban Supports the Craft Beer Industry

Kirin Ichiban has been actively involved in helping to develop the craft beer industry by investing capital into small independent brewery expansions as well as providing technical support for brewing operations.

In addition, it has played a key role in raising awareness about craft beer through its sponsorship of the Japan Beer Championships—an annual event that showcases some of the best craft beers from around the country each year.

By engaging with and supporting local breweries on a smaller scale while also developing regional recognition on a larger scale through regional festivals and championships, Kirin Ichiban is helping to ensure that craft beer can be enjoyed by more people throughout Japan.


Kirin Ichiban is committed to sustainability both on an environmental level with renewable energy sources and eco-friendly packaging materials as well as on a social level with its investments into local communities through sponsorships and partnerships with cultural events and organizations that showcases craft beers from around Japan.

In addition, through its support for small independent breweries by providing capital for expansion projects and technical support for brewing operations, Kirin Ichiban is helping to ensure craft beers continue to be enjoyed by people throughout Japan for many years to come!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, homebrewer and beer taster. I’m also the editor of Beer100. I love travelling the world and trying out new handcraft beer and different beer styles. I’m not an expert in brewing beer, but I know a few things about beer, which I share on this blog. If you need help or have a question, please comment below.

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