As two of the oldest and most popular beverages in the world, beer and tea have been quenching humanity’s thirst for centuries. So, it should come as no surprise given their complementary history that the pair has the potential to unlock the harmonious flavors found in Kizakura Brewer’s Matcha IPA. The balancing of the bitter hops and earthy green tea creates an enticing refreshment that you won’t soon forget.
The development of Matcha tea dates back a thousand years, to a time when the Shogun clans ruled over Japan. The Japanese Buddhist priest, Eisai, is credited with bringing back with him from China both green tea seeds and the method of creating powdered tea drinks. The tea produced from his seeds was cultivated in very small amounts and widely considered to be of the highest quality as well as a luxury beverage. By the 16th-century drinking tea had become a common practice in Japan, and The Way of the Tea had been codified by the teachings of tea master Rikyū, who developed the ritual for preparing and serving tea. The Japanese tea ceremony is considered to be a traditional art of refinement and is strongly associated with the practice of Zen Buddhism, which is how matcha tea came to be held in such high esteem.
The method for brewing IPA, or India Pale Ale, was developed in the 18th century by manufacturers in England vying for the patronage of British sailors and troops occupying India at the time. Brewers needed to create a beer robust enough to survive the grueling journey from Britain to India by way of the East India Company’s ships, thus the IPA was born. By adding extra hops and increasing the alcohol content, the beer was able to stay preserved long enough to still be enjoyed by the time it reached India.
Kizakura brewery is located in Kyoto, Japan, which is where the Buddhist priest Eisai cultivated his tea seeds so long ago. The matcha in Kyoto is still regarded to be of the highest quality, as are many goods produced in Kyoto since the city is considered to be a major center for Japanese culture. Kizakura’s Matcha IPA is the first Japanese style IPA from the brewery. Like many other first-generation craft breweries, Kizakura first started their business by producing sake. In 1994 Kizakura began producing beer using the same water it had previously used to make sake. Their Matcha IPA is currently only available at three locations in the US.
Kizakura brewery offers a surprisingly balanced and nuanced IPA that takes all of the versatility that a matcha addition has to offer and runs with it. By utilizing the inherent sweetness of the green tea, this unique brew sets its sights on rounding out what risked being an overbearing hop bite by acting symbiotically in a way that allows the drinker to taste every note with distinction. An incredibly diverse array of herbal notes greet you upon your first sip, which leads the way through the more vegetal flavors of the hops with ease.
As the pleasant notes of minor pine and earth give way, a rush of polite citrus comes to the forefront, offering some welcome brightness, while never really easing up on the gentle softness that permeates the back of your palate, constantly bringing the beer full circle. It ends with a beautiful lingering of sweet botanical notes, that sit on your taste buds well into your next sip, almost like its rewarding you for revisiting. The Kyoto Matcha IPA’s unique and fresh take on the IPA genre as a whole is something all beer fans should experience. Houston Izakaya is one of the establishments in the United States that serve this unique beer.