Great Divide has made a splash lately with their latest offering, Samurai Ale, because it’s brewed with a significant percentage of rice. Rice! The only other beers commonly brewed with rice are (notoriously) the big American macro lagers, and Japanese beers.
Obviously they chose to take their inspiration from the Japanese rice beers rather than the American macros.
It’s an unfiltered ale, brewed with something like 15% rice in the grain bill I believe, and weighs in at 5.1% alcohol by volume. In brewing, rice is used to lighten the beer and its body, and impart a clean, crisp character to the beer. In the case of American macros, it’s used because it’s cheaper than all-barley brewing and helps to maintain that distinctive light, bland character they’re known for.
Appearance: Very pale yellow, straw colored, unfiltered—hazy. Crisp white head.
Smell: Light, slightly sour. Yeasty.
Taste: Surprisingly malty/grainy. A nice crisp yeast edge with grassy undertones. Refreshing and crisp—far beats the American macros.
Mouthfeel: Light but nicely defined body (from being unfiltered, I suspect).
Overall: Very drinkable, surprisingly tasty (but really, being from Great Divide, I already knew it would be). A very good summer beer, and it would be a good intro microbrew for those beer drinkers who claim only to like the macros.