Blending tea and beer isn’t a new concept — we covered Owl’s Brew’s version last year. But matcha and beer? That’s news to me. And as someone who loves an iced matcha latte almost as much a frosty beer, I’m extremely interested.
Matcha beer was all over the Internet last month when Dig Inn served up a Matcha Beer in the special celebration of St. Paddy’s Day. The small restaurant chain, which has eateries in New York and Boston, mixed Peekskill Brewery’s pilsner with matcha powder from MatchaBar to make a concentrate. This concentrate was then used to top off a full glass of beer, turning the whole drink green.
It turns out that matcha beer is actually pretty common in Japan — the green tea’s home country. SoraNews24 reported in 2013 that “matcha beer is a thing,” citing a pre-bottled version put out by Kinshachi, a brewery in Nagoya, Japan. In the piece, credit is given to matcha for fluffing up the beer foam to create “a beverage with a rich, velvety head that borders on physically impossible to stop drinking.” In Japan, matcha beer is reportedly well-liked among women for its lower alcohol content and not-so-bitter taste.
In New York City, 29B in East Village is serving up some matcha beer. They use a rice-based lager from Japan and the same technique as Dig Inn. A little bit of the beer gets whisked with matcha powder in a traditional tea bowl and is then used to top off a glass of the lager, creating a thick, frothy head. Grubstreet reports that this combination “amplifies the tea’s natural chocolate flavors and adds heft to the crisp beer.”
Stefan Ramirez, the owner of 29B told Well + Good that the green brew took years to perfect, and was unimpressed with the varieties he found in Japan. “It was either made by a tea company or a beer company, so half of it was always just so-so.” He experimented with different types of beers, and found that lagers and pilsners would “fight” with the tea, and chose the rice beer instead, which is naturally sweeter and doesn’t have a strong finish.
“We see people ordering it all day — it’s always a good time for a matcha beer.” And that leads into what I think is the best part of this beer — you’ll look like a health nut drinking green juice, while in reality, you’re really getting pleasantly buzzed.
If you can’t make it to New York, try making your own matcha beer at home!
Photo by Jason Leung