GTG (Green Tea Gose)

Left: Matcha, Right: Sencha

Have you ever encountered a green tea-infused beer? While uncommon in local breweries, the vibrant green Kyoto Matcha IPA from Japan showcases the potential of this unique ingredient. Inspired by this discovery, I began a homebrewing journey to explore the possibilities of incorporating green tea into beer.

My initial attempt wasn’t quite what I envisioned: aiming for a “Matcha Milk Shake Hazy IPA,” I replaced hops with matcha powder, hoping to harness its anti-bacterial properties and capture its distinct flavor. While the resulting ale possessed subtle matcha flavor, it lacked the anticipated green color. More importantly, the slightly tart beer revealed that matcha wasn’t an effective hop substitute in terms of anti-bacterial activity. But surprisingly, I liked it! This unexpected creation even achieved an impressive score of 44/50 in a homebrew competition, the highest score I’ve received in my brewing career so far!

Fast forward to Ikasu Brewing. As I explore unique Japanese ingredients, matcha once again captured my attention. This time, instead of an “accidental” sour, I envisioned an intentional sour ale infused with matcha. Building on my success with quick/kettle-sour ales like POM! (Catharina Sour with Pomegranate) and Guavahh! (Gose with Guava), I considered the possibilities of using matcha instead of fruit.

Sencha, another beloved Japanese green tea, also piqued my curiosity. While familiar with its grassy and vegetal notes from daily consumption, I recognized the significant differences between matcha and sencha:

Processing: Matcha undergoes steaming to retain its vibrant green color and intense flavor, while sencha is pan-fired, resulting in a more vegetal taste.
Form: Matcha is a fine powder, while sencha consists of loose leaves, impacting how they interact with the beer during infusion.

Given these distinctions, I opted for a Gose as the base style. Its characteristic use of salt and coriander seeds promised intriguing interactions with the green tea flavors.

Recipe (7 gal):

Pale Ale Malt 2-Row68%
Wheat Red Malt32%
Water ChemistryCaMgNaClSO4HCO3
Concentration (ppm)32146815075105
Saccharification Rest150F5.460 min
Cascade2 ozHop Stand (175F) 30 min
Himalayan Sea Salt0.75 ozHop Stand
Coriander Seeds0.75 ozHop Stand
Matcha (or Sencha)4 ozDay 5 on Primary
YeastAmountPitched Temperature
Swanson l Plantarum600 mL starter95F
Wy3711 French Saison1000 mL starter65F
Fermentation ProfileTemperatureDuration
Kettle Sour95FOvernight
Primary65F9 days
Diacetyl Rest72F5 days
Cold Crash38F1 day

Kettle souring in general requires two-day (or more) brewing sessions. Day 1 is for mashing, heat pasteurizing, chilling, and pitching Lactobacillus (Lacto, the image above) to make the wort sour, which usually takes 16-48 hours. Then, day 2 involves heat pasteurizing the Lacto, adding hops, chilling, and pitching yeast. Most recipes call for an intense boil, which I believe is not always necessary (I’m someone who loves to save energy).

The next morning, I checked the pH, and it was already 3.0! The ideal range for kettle souring is typically 3.3-3.4. Why? Maybe I overpitched the super fresh Lacto?

Faced with this dilemma, I considered raising the pH with sodium bicarbonate, but I decided to hold off for a future experiment (“Can you fix too sour situations by simply adding baking soda?”). So, I proceeded with fermentation as planned. Surprisingly, despite sounding almost like pure vinegar, the beer didn’t taste that way.

Note: I later discovered that my pH meter misread the sample due to outdated calibration solutions. After all, the final beer ended up with a pH of 3.2, which is still a bit low but acceptable. This experience taught me the importance of not blindly trusting instrument readings and to rely on my senses as well. Mistakes like this can happen, so it’s crucial to be observant and adaptable during the brewing process.

My new fermentation chamber, a kind courtesy from my president Andy Carter.

The 14-gallon batch was divided into four 3.5-gallon kegs:

1. Control Gose (baseline)
2. Matcha Gose
3. Sencha Gose
4. Guava Gose (not discussed in this post)

Left: Matcha, Right: Sencha

On Day 5, I added matcha and sencha to their respective fermenters. While the amount seemed significant, fermentation progressed normally.


Although I originally planned to transfer the beers from fermenting kegs to serving kegs by Day 14, unforeseen circumstances, including a serving freezer (keezer) overhaul, caused a delay. Fortunately, on Day 21, I was able to transfer the fermenting kegs directly from the fermentation freezer to the keezer. This was possible because the kegs are equipped with floating dip tubes, allowing them to function similarly to unitanks.

C: Control, M: Matcha, S: Sencha

At first glance, they appeared completely identical. None of the beers had any green coloration. Tasting revealed surprisingly subtle tea aromas and flavors in both the matcha and sencha variations. To confirm sensory differences, I conducted 5 semi-blind triangle tests. The results were:

Control vs Matcha: 4/5 correct (statistically significant)
Control vs Sencha: 5/5 correct (statistically significant)
Matcha vs Sencha: 2/5 correct (no statistically significant difference)

While I could distinguish control from both tea variations, differentiating between matcha and sencha proved challenging in the context of the Gose. This led to a slight disappointment, prompting me to order more tea for a second attempt with a potentially stronger infusion.

Further experimentation with adjusting pH and final gravity is necessary, as these factors can intensify astringency from green tea. Additionally, achieving the vibrant green color characteristic of matcha remains a future pursuit. However, I personally enjoy the beer with green tea flavor without a murky green appearance, similar to my preference for pale ales with coffee flavors.

Sencha, with its affordability and more pronounced aroma, is currently my preferred choice for future exploration. Additionally, sencha alleviates the challenge of achieving the desired green color. This unique ingredient shows promise for adding a distinctive character to our beers and contributing to the overall identity of Ikasu Brewing. This is just the beginning of the journey, and I am eager to share future discoveries with you!


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Real Japan Lager Project: Sticky Rice vs. Flaked Rice

What pops into your mind when you hear “Japanese Lager”? Asahi? Kirin? Sapporo? You got it! Now, how would you describe them? Light, crisp, dry, refreshing… perhaps a touch bland or similar to Budweiser?

One key difference between Japanese lagers and other styles lies in their use of rice as an adjunct sugar source alongside barley. (Happoshu: a lighter beer using more rice for a lower tax in Japan, FYI.) I once used flaked rice for a homebrew lager that actually snagged a gold medal for the International Pale Lager category at a local homebrew competition!

But then, a question lingered: What truly sets Japanese lagers apart? American lagers like Budweiser use rice too. Could the rice type hold the answer? Perhaps the sticky rice I grew up with in Japan played a role?

Sticky rice was omnipresent in my childhood, the foundation of every meal. Here in the States, rice isn’t quite as ubiquitous, and sticky rice usually requires a trip to an Asian grocery store.

Curiosity bubbling, I decided to brew a Japanese lager with Japanese sticky rice. I knew I’d need to cook it first (a process called gelatinization or cereal mashing) to make the complex starches accessible to the enzymes that convert them into fermentable sugars later in the main mash process.

To assess the impact of this swap, I brewed two side-by-side batches: Batch A with sticky rice and Batch B with my trusty flaked rice.

This format takes inspiration from the brilliant minds at and, two websites I deeply respect.

Recipe (5.5 gal):

Pilsner Malt60%
Japanese Sticky Rice (or Flaked Rice)25%
Pale Ale Malt10%
Caramel Malt 20L5%
Water ChemistryCaMgNaClSO4HCO3
Concentration (ppm)32146815075105
Saccharification Rest148F (64C)5.660 min
Hallertauer Mittelfrueh1 oz30 min
Tettnang1 oz30 min
Hallertauer Mittelfrueh1 oz5 min
Tettnang1 oz5 min
YeastAmountPitched Temperature
W-34/702000 mL starter55F (13C)
Fermentation ProfileTemperatureDuration
Primary55F (13C)5 days
Diacetyl Rest65F (18C)5 days
Cold Crash34F (1C)1 day

Brew day involved cooking 2.5 lbs of rice and cooling it down to the room temperature. I didn’t want it to raise the mash temperature above my target (dropping it is harder!), but adding the cooked rice actually caused a substantial drop, requiring an elaborate adjustment.

Despite my concern, the rice dispersed nicely without clumping. However, during mashing, the rice pieces remained intact, sparking a touch of paranoia – were the sugars being extracted properly?

During the lautering (separating the wort from the grains), I squeezed both batches, extracting substantially more liquid from the already-wet sticky rice, boosting the Sticky Rice Lager’s wort volume. However, this didn’t significantly dilute the final product, and both batches had similar OG (original gravity) readings.

Left: Japanese Sticky Rice Lager, Right: Flaked Rice Lager

Sticky Rice LagerFlaked Rice lager
*pH was adjusted from 5.7 to 5.4 before fermentation with food-grade phosphoric acid.

The Verdict:

Both lagers finished with similar numbers, though Sticky Rice Lager showed slightly lower attenuation. Their appearances looked pretty identical while Sticky Rice Lager was slightly paler.

Left: Japanese Sticky Rice Lager, Right: Flaked Rice Lager

But the sensory experience was strikingly different. Sticky Rice Lager emitted a noticeable sulfur note reminiscent of authentic German Pilsners, a stark contrast to the neutral, almost Japanese milk bread-like aroma of Flaked Rice Lager. Mouthfeel was another key difference: Sticky Rice Lager delivered a crisp bite despite its slightly higher FG (final gravity), while Flaked Rice Lager leaned towards creamy.

Five “semi-blind triangle tests” confirmed my suspicions: I identified the randomly-mixed unique sample every single time! This statistically proves that using sticky rice imparts a significant sensory impact compared to flaked rice.

Sharing these beers at the SoCal Cerveceros meeting brought about divided opinions. Members seemed to slightly favor Flaked Rice Lager, though honestly, I was a tad too tipsy at the time to remember everything clearly, lol…

I haven’t plunged down the rabbit hole of Japanese rice and sulfur note connections yet, but I’ve always recognized the unique smell when Japanese rice is cooked, which might translate as a sulfur note in beer. I haven’t cooked rice since then, but instead I’m now in front of my usual taco stand (yes, I’m a dedicated arroz y frijoles guy!), and guess what? These cooked tortillas are giving me sulfur notes too!

The journey to craft the perfect Japanese lager for LA beer lovers continues. Cheers! Kanpai!!

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