Sapporo Beer Reserve

Sapporo: Japan’s Oldest Brewery

Sapporo, the oldest beer brand in Japan, is making waves in the American market as the number one Asian beer consumed in the United States. Sapporo Premium (also known as Sapporo Draft overseas) has surpassed all other Asian beers in popularity. In addition to their flagship beer, Sapporo also offers the all-malt premium beer, Sapporo Reserve. So, which one is better? Let’s find out.

Sapporo Premium vs. Sapporo Reserve: A Close Look

Before we delve into the details, here’s a quick summary. Sapporo Premium is known for its classic Japanese-style lagers, offering a lighter and crisper flavor. On the other hand, Sapporo Reserve boasts a maltier flavor, thanks to its 100% malt brewing process. Both beers are best served chilled, preferably in a glass, alongside a delicious bowl of ramen.

History: A Rich Brewing Legacy

Founded in 1876, Sapporo is Japan’s oldest beer brand. Seibei Nakagawa, who learned the art of beer brewing in Germany, opened the first Sapporo brewery in the town of Sapporo. Inspired by classic German beers, they introduced their first lager during that time.

Fast forward to today, Sapporo has five breweries in Japan, as well as the Sleeman brewery in Canada and the Sapporo Brewing Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA. While Sapporo Premium for American drinkers mainly comes from the Wisconsin brewery, Sapporo Reserve is brewed and bottled at the Sleeman brewery in Ontario, Canada.

Flavor: A Taste Comparison

Sapporo Premium boasts a crisp, clean taste reminiscent of classic American light lagers. It offers a hint of malty sweetness with minimal aftertaste, making it highly drinkable. Although it has a touch of hoppy sweetness, Sapporo Premium is not overpowering in flavor.

On the other hand, Sapporo Reserve presents a bolder and maltier experience compared to Sapporo Premium. As a European lager, it lacks body but surpasses Premium with its grainy taste, closer to corn rather than the typical toast or bread notes found in lagers. The finish provides a subtle, slightly peppery “bite.”

Both these Japanese beers are designed to complement a tasty Japanese meal. Sapporo Reserve, in particular, pairs well with strongly flavored fish dishes like salmon or tuna, commonly found in Japanese restaurants.

Mouthfeel: Texture Matters

Sapporo Premium offers a silky and carbonated mouthfeel, typical of American lagers. It’s crisp, refreshing, and although a tad thin, it delivers an enjoyable drinking experience.

In contrast, Sapporo Reserve offers a sharper first impression. Like Premium, it’s crisp, clean, softly carbonated, and has a bit more body, ending with a crisp, dry finish. While there are subtle differences, both beers share similar mouthfeel characteristics, with Sapporo Reserve having a touch more body and depth, just like its taste.

Smell: Aromatic Profiles

Sapporo Premium greets your senses with a familiar Japanese beer aroma, reminiscent of freshly opened bags of rice. This light cereal scent also resembles that of American light lagers.

Sapporo Reserve, on the other hand, offers a more complex aroma. It combines hints of citrus, sweet malted cereal notes, and even a subtle touch of the herby cut-grass scent found in some European beers. Overall, it has more character compared to Sapporo Premium.

Calories and Alcohol Content: Negligible Differences

When it comes to calories, Sapporo Premium contains 140 calories per 12oz serving, while Sapporo Reserve is only slightly higher at 151 calories for the same amount. The difference of eleven calories is negligible, making them fairly similar for most beer drinkers.

In terms of alcohol content, Sapporo Premium has a standard ABV (Alcohol By Volume) of 4.9%, very close to the 5.1% ABV of Sapporo Reserve. This slight difference won’t make a significant impact, but it’s worth noting that Sapporo Reserve has a slightly higher alcohol percentage.

Appearance: Aesthetic Delights

Sapporo Premium pours as a clear, pale yellow beer, typical of lagers. The silky white head dissipates quickly, following the standard lager tradition.

Sapporo Reserve, on the other hand, exhibits a touch darker shade, resembling a honeyed gold color. It features a lovely white head with intricate lacing. While not a dark beer, its golden hue, combined with the white head, creates a visually pleasing presentation in a beer glass.

Sapporo’s commitment to exceptional packaging is evident in their award-winning design. Their Premium beer comes in a robust steel can that exudes durability, setting it apart from its competitors’ flimsier silver cans commonly found in the American market.

Sapporo Reserve follows a similar design, with a steel can that echoes the beer glass-like shape. Its golden bottom reflects the enticing color of this 100% malt beer.

What Do Beer Drinkers Think?

Taking into account the scores from various platforms, both Sapporo Premium and Sapporo Reserve receive similar ratings across the board. However, there is a slight preference for Sapporo Reserve, with Influenster users awarding Sapporo Premium a slim lead of 8.8 compared to Sapporo Reserve’s 8.6.

One Beeradvocate user eloquently describes Sapporo Reserve:

“There is nothing overpowering about this brew, it has a super nice balance to it. Really Refreshing drinking brew. This brew would go nice with any meal, lunch or dinner.”

Brewing Process & Ingredients

As the oldest brewing company in Japan, Sapporo stays true to its roots. Their brewing process includes yeast, malted barley, water, hops, and rice. Additionally, they add small amounts of buckwheat, similar to the process used in some African beers, to make their Premium beer.

Sapporo Reserve stands out by exclusively using 100% malted barley. Depending on your location, Sapporo Premium is brewed in Wisconsin, USA, while Sapporo Reserve is produced in Ontario, Canada, at the Sleeman Brewery.

Brand Image: Reflecting Tradition and Quality

Sapporo’s branding reflects their commitment to excellence. As an import with a premium status, Sapporo emphasizes high-end quality in everything, from the beer itself to the packaging. Their gold stars and quality materials reinforce the brand’s association with German brewing standards and prestige.

Sapporo Premium, catering to the American palate, aligns closer to middle-American beers. Its popularity as the best-selling Asian beer in the USA stems from its origins in old-school German brewing practices, which many American breweries also adopt.

Sapporo Reserve, categorized as a premium offering, might confuse American consumers familiar with Sapporo Premium as their flagship product. Internationally, Sapporo Premium goes by the name Sapporo Draft. Sapporo Reserve caters to discerning drinkers with its fuller body and emphasis on the all-malt brewing process.

Sapporo Reserve vs. Sapporo Premium: Brothers of Flavor

These two Sapporo beers share more similarities than differences. Sapporo Reserve can be seen as the bolder, more robust brother of Sapporo Premium. Both beers offer a low-risk, highly drinkable experience, perfect for a sunny day.

If you already enjoy Sapporo Premium, you’ll likely find Sapporo Reserve equally delightful, or perhaps even more so, if you prefer a fuller, more robust beer.

For the ultimate beer pairing, both Sapporo Premium and Sapporo Reserve perfectly complement a hot, salty meal. Whether it’s ramen, fried chicken, or any other fried or barbecued dish, these beers enhance the flavors. The Japanese brewing tradition revolves around enjoying their beer alongside traditional Japanese cuisine. So, the next time you savor a tuna roll or relish a steaming hot bowl of ramen, elevate the experience by ordering a Sapporo from the Ambassadeur Hotel to wash it all down.