If you’re looking for a new type of beer experience in NYC, look no further than Izakaya Juraku! This Japanese restaurant and bar in the Lower East Side has the largest selection of Japanese beer in New York State. And let me tell you, they all pair amazingly with their delicious and fun food menu, including a fantastic pork belly appetizer served at the table on a mini-grill, and cold, boozy ramen with broth made with soju that’s like a blend of a Bloody Mary and gazpacho.
I was invited to an event to celebrate the launch of a new Japanese IPA from Rydeen Beer, produced by Hakkaisan Sake Brewery. I got the chance to try some of the restaurant’s fantastic bites, paired with the IPA and the some of the other Japanese beers from the restaurant’s extensive beer menu. Rydeen IPA is a light, piney, and citrusy, similar to a West Coast style IPA—great for pairing with the steamed and fried dumplings and pork katsu the restaurant served alongside.
I had a few fruited beers—a style I love. My favorites were from Hokkaido Brewing of which Izakaya Juraku offers three different varieties: melon, yuzu (lemon), and berry. I really enjoyed all of them. The fruit in each was well pronounced, but not overly sweet, which is often a turnoff for this style. The bar even served frozen beer slushees made from the melon and berry versions—both were super refreshing and delicious on the hot day.
One of the coolest parts of the evening was getting to try some of the darker styles of Japanese beer, because I was only familiar with lighter ones. Samurai Barleywine Ale from Hyouko Yashiki no Mori Brewery was strong—clocking in at 10%—and super delicious with big toffee and caramel notes. An oyster stout from Iwate Kura Bakushu (yes, brewed with real oysters) had a nice roasted malt backbone, imparting delicious coffee notes, but was still surprisingly light and dry compared to many stouts I’ve had.
The encore was Kyoto matcha IPA—a stunning, bright green beer. The tea was the real star of the show, giving the beer a beautiful tea flavor and aroma, with a bitterness that melded well with that of the citrusy hops. What could make it better? Pouring some of the beer over some green tea ice cream, of course! It was just an absolutely perfect pairing.
I’ve recommended visiting Izakaya Juraku to as many people as possible since visiting. If you love beer and Japanese food, you will surely love this unique NYC bar.
More Japanese beer fridge porn Beer slushees: melon and berry