The Absolute Best Beer To Pair With Ramen

My love affair with ramen spans my lifetime and two continents. I have experienced ramen everywhere from the streets of Shinjuku in establishments like my favorite, Hakata Ippūdō, to some of the best ramen restaurants in America, including Kizuki Ramen, Menya Musashi, and Santouka in Seattle to the famed Ivan Ramen in New York City. This exploration has been a delicious journey, from countless packs of the instant iterations in my youth to the bowls I've relished in my travels as an adult. As a cookbook author, this experience has been invaluable. My travels have fueled my curiosity to develop unique ramen recipes like a matcha one inspired by MENSHO Ramen. Additionally, I've been inspired to experiment with beer pairings.

No matter which of the 27 types of ramen you choose, almost all ramen inherently possesses a savory, umami, and salty character. A light and refreshing Japanese beer is ideal to balance these robust flavors. My top choice? Sapporo Premium Japanese Lager is the absolute best beer to pair with ramen. Light and crisp, Sapporo Lager refreshingly balances any ramen's complex flavors. My husband Jake, who has been my foodie partner in countless ramen tastings over our marriage, agrees wholeheartedly. Furthermore, Sapporo is Japan's oldest beer brand, originating in the 1800s, and you'll easily find it in ramen joints worldwide. 

Sapporo Lager, with its historical significance, accessibility, and perfectly harmonizing flavors, has earned its reputation as the absolute best beer to pair with almost any bowl of ramen.

Exploring the world of ramen and beer pairings beyond the classic Sapporo

While Sapporo Premium Japanese Lager stands as the best classic pairing for any ramen, the world of beer and ramen combinations extends far beyond this staple. In developing a unique matcha ramen for my upcoming cookbook, I experimented with various beer pairings. My matcha ramen has a creamy, indulgent broth with hints of floral and earthy notes. I found it a perfect companion in one of my favorite beers, Kyoto White Yuzu Ale. The citrusy undertones of this ale balanced the savory flavors of my matcha ramen perfectly, creating the harmony my tastebuds crave.

Of course, while I have my favorites and recommendations, the best beer for ramen ultimately depends on personal taste and the specific type of ramen you're enjoying. You might enjoy stouts or darker beers like Tokyo Black or Sapporo Black when eating clear, lighter ramen like shio ramen. With richer ramen, like shoyu, you might want to pair it with Echigo Koshikari, a mild, crisp, and pale rice lager, another of my favorites.

Still, I recommend starting with a nice cold Sapporo Premium Japanese Lager. See how you like it paired with your ramen of choice and then get wild from there. Also, don't hesitate to ask your server for beer recommendations when dining at a ramen joint. They often have insights into pairings that complement the specific ramen flavors of their restaurant. As always, enjoy your alcoholic beverage responsibly.