Rice Lager Recipe: Brewing a Traditional Japanese Lager

Rice lager recipes were first developed in Japan where they have been brewed since the late 1800s and are also known as Japanese rice lagers. They were traditionally brewed by small, regional breweries and in recent years have gained in popularity around the world. In fact, most lagers brewed by the big American commercial breweries contain a significant portion of rice in their recipe and as a result would be considered rice lagers.

Unsurprisingly this style of beer is characterized by the use of rice as one of its ingredients; which adds a light, crisp quality to the beer. In this article, we will provide you with a rice lager recipe to brew up as well as go over the best grains, hops, and yeast to use if you wish to make your own recipe or modify the one we provide. We will also review some techniques unique to brewing a rice lager such as a cereal mash, and briefly discuss the characteristics to look for in your finished beer.

Rice Lager Recipe

Ingredients:

4 lbs Jasmine rice (or any long-grain white rice)
7 lbs Pilsner malt
2 oz Sorachi Ace hops (Saaz will also work nicely)
2 packs Fermentis Saflager S-23

Instructions:

Mill the grains including the rice in a grain mill.

Cook the milled rice in a separate pot on your stove.

Perform a cereal mash by mixing the cooked rice and the malt mixture.

Maintain a mash temperature of 155 – 158°F for 1 hour.

Perform a mash-out if you desire

Vorlauf until liquid runs clear

Sparge to bring volume up to your required pre-boil level

Drain the liquid and discard the grains.

Bring the liquid to a boil and add 0.4 oz of Sorachi Ace hops. Boil for 59 minutes.

At the 1-minute mark add the remaining 1.6 oz of Sorachi Ace hops.

Remove from heat and cool to yeast pitching temperature.

Transfer the wort to a fermenter and add the yeast.

Ferment at 50-55°F for 2-3 weeks.

Transfer to a secondary fermenter and lager at 32-38°F for 4-6 weeks.

Bottle or keg and carbonate then enjoy!

Designing a Rice Lager Recipe

Use the following guidelines if you wish to design your own rice lager recipe or modify the one we provided. 

two rice lagers on a box of rice next to the words "rice lager recipe".
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When it comes to grains, the best choice for a rice lager is long-grain white rice. This recipe uses Jasmine rice, which is a long-grain variety that is known for its fragrant aroma and light flavor. It is also a great choice for brewing a rice lager due to its high starch content.

The hop variety used in this recipe is Sorachi Ace, which is a unique hop that is known for its distinct lemony and dill aroma. It’s good for brewing a rice lager as it adds a subtle, clean bitterness to the beer and complements the light flavors provided by the rice. Other hops typically used in the making of lagers such as Saaz, Hallertau, or Tettnang are also good choices if you can’t source out Sorachi Ace.

When it comes to yeast, a lager yeast strain is required. Yeast strains such as Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager or White Labs WLP830 German Lager Yeast work well, and you can never go wrong if you use Fermentis Saflager – S23.

Characteristics of a Rice Lager

A rice lager should have a light golden color and a bright, clear appearance. The aroma should be clean and subtle, with hints of rice and a slight floral note from the hops. The taste should be crisp and refreshing, with some light sweetness from the rice and a clean light but noticeable bitter finish from the hops. The mouthfeel should be light and effervescent, with a nice balance of carbonation.

As far as food pairing goes, rice lagers are versatile and can be paired with a wide variety of foods. They are especially well-suited to seafood, sushi, and spicy dishes and they also go well with lighter foods such as salads and grilled vegetables.

Last Call

It is not hard to see why this is a popular lager to brew, making a rice lager is a fun and rewarding experience that results in a unique and flavorful beer. By using high-quality ingredients and following proper brewing techniques, you can create a delicious and authentic rice lager that will impress your friends and family. Let us know if you give this rice lager recipe a try, and what you think of it. Like us, you may find that it becomes a beer you keep on tap.

P.S. If you want Big Robbs’s top 5 favorite recipes from his brewpub, they are yours as our gift to you, details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom if you are on your phone.  Cheers!

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