Beer has a shorter history in Japan than it has in most of the rest of the world. The reason for this is that Japan has been isolated from the rest of the world and its modern technology for centuries. It is not that Japan didn’t have its share of alcoholic beverages before beer made its entrance, as sake and shochu have been around for a long time. How about Japanese beer, is it any good? And which brands should you try?
History of Japanese Beer
It was only in 1853 that beer is said to have been first brewed in Japan by Koumin Kawamoto, a chemist who was also proficient in Dutch medicine, following description in a Dutch book. In the 1890s the Japanese beer industry began to flourish, and in 1994 the landscape of Japanese-produced beer again changed.
The minimum amount you were required to brew in order to get a license was significantly reduced, paving the way for small, regional breweries. Nowadays, Japanese beer is exported to mainly Japanese restaurants all over the world, and it is known to be delicious and ranked as one of the best in the world.
Most Popular Japanese Beer Brands
So which brands are most popular in Japan? Let us give you an overview of the 4 most-enjoyed beers in Japan:
In 1889, Asahi Breweries’ predecessor, Osaka Beer Brewing Company, was founded. Its singular purpose was to produce a world-class beer in Japan. Employing traditional German brewing techniques, the company introduced Asahi Beer. It was quickly adopted as a high-quality domestic beer and by 1903 it had become the best-selling beer in Japan.
In 1987 Asahi launched a new product that sent it to the top of the market, ASAHI SUPER DRY, and it forever changed the beer industry in Japan. This beer is sold in different presentations and sizes, and it is the easiest to find anywhere in Japan. Asahi has a light, crip bitter taste with a strong aftertaste.
Sapporo is a refreshing beer with a crisp, refined flavor and a clean finish. The perfect beer to accompany any meal and on any occasion. Sapporo is the oldest beer brand in Japan, founded in 1876. The history of this beer began with the adventurous spirit of Seibei Nakagawa, the first trained brewmaster in Germany. This beer is fermented and aged at a low temperature, which is what gives it its distinct flavor.
The name Yebisu refers to one of the seven gods of fortune, the god Ebisu. In the brand logo, the god appears with a friendly smile. Yebisu beer was established in an area near Ebisu station in Tokyo, and it is indeed not a coincidence that the station name and brand name sound so similar. The station was first named after the beer brand, and after that, the entire neighborhood was named after the station. Today, you can visit the Museum of Yebisu Beer near Ebisu station, where you can sample a few different flavors of Japan’s favorite premium beer brand.
Because Yebisu beer is produced with 100% selected premium malt and hops, the thick, creamy malt flavor is unmatched by other beers. Yebisu beers are known to be of premium quality. By using roasted barley, Yebisu Premium Black offers a crisp, light flavor with a deep malt flavor. This beer is available almost everywhere, but it tends to be slightly more expensive than other beer because of its premium ingredients.
Kirin is a part of the Mitsubishi conglomerate. Its main business is in the beer industry and it owns 15 breweries throughout the country. Its bestseller Kirin Ichiban has a distinct bittersweet taste, and it pairs well with Asian spicy foods.
As you can see, if you are a beer drinker, there is something for everyone amongst the Japanese beers. If you come to Japan, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try a few of them. You won’t have to pay the premium price you would pay at your local Japanese restaurant.
Your Japan Tour
As seasoned Japan experts, we create perfect Japan package tours including plenty of chances to sample Japanese beer. Check out our group tours and private tours, or contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!