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Enter the ‘floating world’ with Three Taverns Brewery’s Japanese-inspired beer
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Three Taverns Brewery's Ukiyo rice lager. - photo by Kelsey Podo

With each sip of Three Tavern Brewery’s Ukiyo, I found myself lulled into the beer’s jasmine aroma and delicate sweetness.

Although brief, the beer provided an escape from the chaos surrounding the pandemic. It’s only fitting that this Japanese-inspired rice lager was named to provoke this feeling.

“Ukiyo means the floating world, detached from the cares of life,” said Riley Finnigan, Three Taverns’ brewmaster.

The can design reminds me of the whimsy of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films with its giant koi fish carrying a man who seems relaxed in his armchair, despite the bizarreness of the situation.

Finnigan said this character, donned in casual wear and sporting a luxurious beard, was influenced by “The Dude” from “The Big Lebowski,” and the old stereo ads with the man sitting in front of a speaker as his hair blows back from the sound. 

The beer was first released last summer in Three Taverns’ taproom, and because of its popularity, climbed to core beer status as one of the brewery’s year-round offerings.

Ukiyo was born from the brewery’s desire to make a light lager. 

“We knew that was a hole in our portfolio,” Finnigan said. “We didn’t want to make a totally nondescript light lager without personality or character. There’s enough of those in the world.”

People who have explored the brewery’s beer, know Three Taverns is no stranger to tea.

Similar to how Lord Grey is brewed by dropping in a large amount of Earl Grey tea leaves in the beer, Finnigan said jasmine tea was added post-fermentation.

Making Ukiyo was Finnigan’s first time brewing with rice during his 10 years in the craft beer industry.

“We typically shy away from those adjuncts associated with macro lagers,” Finnigan said. “This really fit the vision for the beer.”

At a low 4.25% alcohol by volume, Ukiyo offers an easy-drinking and fragrant beer that I find perfect for warm weather. Unlike most rice lagers I’ve tried, this beer isn’t boring. The jasmine kept me interested with every sip. 

Despite its floral notes, the beer doesn’t fall into the category of those distinctly aromatic brews best consumed in small quantities. The tea addition is slight enough that I downed the beer in a matter of minutes, ready for my next pour. 

For those interested in picking up a six-pack of Ukiyo, visit threetavernsbrewery.com to place an order. The brewery is located at 121 New St. in Decatur. 

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