Japanese Rice Lager Recipe

If you're a fan of light, crisp beers, then Rice should be on your radar. This style of , made popular by Japanese breweries like Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi, is known for its clean and refreshing taste. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the brewing process of Japanese Rice Lager and provide you with a detailed recipe to get you started.

The key ingredient in Japanese Rice Lager is, of course, rice. Rice not only provides fermentable sugars for the to produce but also contributes to the light color and body of the beer. Traditionally, Japanese rice lagers use around 30 to 40 percent rice in the grain mix. This gives the beer its characteristic lightness and crispness.

To begin the brewing process, you'll need a mix of rice and barley. Start by rinsing the rice thoroughly to remove any impurities. You can use any type of short-grain rice, but it's best to avoid using pre-cooked or seasoned rice. Once rinsed, cook the rice according to the package instructions and allow it to cool completely.

In terms of the barley, pilsner extract is the way to go. Look for the freshest and palest extract you can find, whether in dried or liquid form. The ratio of rice to barley should be around 30 to 40 percent rice and the remaining portion being pilsner malt extract.

Now it's time to mash the grains. Heat to around 152°F (67°C) and add the rice and malt extract. Stir well to ensure even distribution and let it sit for about an hour. This will allow the enzymes in the malt extract to convert the starches in the rice into fermentable sugars.

Once the mashing process is complete, it's time to sparge and collect the sweet wort. Sparge with hot water at around 170°F (77°C) to rinse out any remaining sugars from the grains. Collect the wort and bring it to a boil.

During the boiling process, can be added for flavor and aroma. Japanese rice lagers typically have a low hop bitterness, so aim for a mild hop profile. A popular hop choice for this style is Saaz, known for its delicate and floral qualities. Add the hops according to the desired bitterness level, typically around 10 to 20 IBUs.

After boiling, cool the wort rapidly to around 50°F (10°C) before transferring it to your fermentation vessel. At this point, it's essential to pitch a suitable yeast strain. Yeast strains such as Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager, White Labs WLP830 German Lager Yeast, or Fermentis Saflager – S23 work well for Japanese Rice Lagers. Follow the yeast manufacturer's instructions for optimal fermentation conditions.

Fermentation should take place at a controlled temperature of around 50 to 55°F (10 to 13°C) for several weeks. This extended fermentation period allows the flavors to develop and the beer to clarify. After fermentation is complete, you can carbonate the beer either naturally through bottle conditioning or using a kegging system.

Now that you have a detailed recipe for brewing Japanese Rice Lager, it's time to put your brewing skills to the test. Experiment with different ratios of rice to barley and hop additions to find your perfect balance of flavors. Cheers to brewing a delicious and refreshing Japanese Rice Lager!

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What Makes A Japanese Rice Lager?

A Japanese rice lager is a type of beer that is brewed using rice in addition to barley. This combination of grains gives the beer its unique characteristics. Let's take a closer look at what makes a Japanese rice lager distinct:

1. Rice: The use of rice in the brewing process is what sets Japanese rice lagers apart from other beers. Rice provides fermentable sugars that yeast can convert into alcohol during fermentation. This not only adds to the alcohol content but also contributes to the overall flavor profile of the beer.

2. Light color: Japanese rice lagers are known for their light color. The addition of rice helps to keep the beer pale and clear. This light appearance makes it visually appealing and differentiates it from darker beer styles.

3. Light body: Rice also contributes to the light body of Japanese rice lagers. The use of rice in the grain mix helps to create a beer that is crisp and easy to drink. It has a lighter mouthfeel compared to heavier beer styles, making it a popular choice for those who prefer lighter, refreshing beers.

4. Clean and crisp taste: Japanese rice lagers are often described as having a clean and crisp taste. The use of rice in the brewing process helps to create a beer that is highly attenuated, meaning that most of the sugars have been converted into alcohol. This results in a dry and refreshing beer with a subtle sweetness from the rice.

5. Subtle flavors: While Japanese rice lagers may not have as bold and pronounced flavors as some other beer styles, they still possess a delicate and nuanced taste. The rice imparts a subtle grainy flavor that complements the maltiness of the barley. These flavors are often balanced by a mild hop bitterness, resulting in a well-rounded and approachable beer.

A Japanese rice lager is a beer that is brewed using a combination of rice and barley. This unique grain mix gives the beer its light color, light body, clean taste, and subtle flavors. It is a popular choice for those seeking a refreshing and easy-to-drink beer option.


The Japanese rice lager recipe is a unique and refreshing beer style that incorporates rice in addition to barley in the grain mix. The use of rice provides fermentable sugars for the yeasts, resulting in a light-colored and light-bodied beer. This style is popular in Japan, with well-known brands like Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi using rice in their brewing process.

When brewing a Japanese rice lager, it is important to use fresh and pale pilsner malt extract as the majority of the grist, along with a significant portion of rice. The rice content can range from 30 to 40 percent in the mash, contributing to the unique characteristics of this style.

Choosing the right yeast strain is crucial in achieving the desired flavors and fermentation. Options such as Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager, White Labs WLP830 German Lager Yeast, or Fermentis Saflager – S23 are recommended for their compatibility with this style.

Brewing a Japanese rice lager allows beer enthusiasts to experience a crisp and light beer with a distinct flavor profile. Whether you are looking to replicate popular Japanese brands or experiment with your own recipe, incorporating rice into the brewing process adds a unique twist to this classic beer style.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.