What are some interesting facts about Japanese beer?
- Beer was introduced to Japan by overseas traders.
- Japan’s largest beer breweries have been around since the nineteenth century.
- Japan is very lenient with its policies regarding beer drinking in public.
- Five beer brands dominate the Japanese market.
- Japanese beers are typically light, refreshing, and smooth.
- Japan is currently on a craft beer boom.
- Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan.
Did you know that Japan has a booming beer industry? Like the Philippines, it’s a country where people simply love their ale. As one of the most popular drinks in Japan, beer is often consumed by businessmen after work or groups of friends hanging out at izakayas (Japanese pubs and bars).
Besides what you can tell from the first sip, there are some facts about Japanese beer that may surprise you. In this article, we’re taking a deep swig of this beloved drink and getting to know it more.
Read on to learn some less-known facts about Japanese beer.
Beer was Introduced to Japan by Overseas Traders
Beer brewing in Japan began in the mid-19th century. It was introduced to the Japanese by overseas traders after Japan ended its policy of international isolation in 1854. In fact, beer was so impactful on the country that the Ebisu area in Tokyo is actually named after a brewery—Yebisu, which opened there in 1890.
Japan’s Largest Beer Breweries Have Been Around Since the Nineteenth Century
Ingrained in Japan’s colorful beer history are brands that exist and flourish to this day. The country’s largest breweries Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo were founded in 1889, 1885, and 1876 respectively, and they currently remain three of the biggest names in Japanese beer.
For a taste of history that comes with undeniably good ale, try the oldest brand of beer in Japan, Sapporo Premium Beer or Sapporo Premium Black Beer. The former is a refreshing and refined lager that’s perfect to pair with any meal while the latter is bold and flavorful with roasted dark malts and refined hops. Both are smooth and crisp, in typical Sapporo fashion.
Japan is Very Lenient with Its Policies Regarding Beer Drinking in Public
Japan’s long-established major breweries have done more than create good drinks over the past century. They’ve also influenced the culture of Japan to consider the beverage as an everyday drink, typically sold in convenience stores, bars, and izakayas, especially those near major train stations.
It’s also fairly common to find German-inspired beers served alongside Western cuisine in Japan’s beer halls, and there’s been a rise of craft beer bars throughout the country.
All of this is influenced in some way by the fact that drinking in public is not illegal in Japan, so it isn’t frowned upon as it might be in other cultures. It’s not unusual to see people drinking from a can of beer on their way home from work, and beer vending machines are quite common.
Five Beer Brands Dominate the Japanese Market
We’ve talked about Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo. If you add Suntory and Orion to the fold, you’ve got a list of the five most prominent beers in the domestic market of Japan. These five are famous both locally and all over the world.
Japanese Beers are Typically Light, Refreshing, and Smooth
Japan’s large breweries typically create lagers that are somewhere between 4-5% ABV. There’s a distinctive taste they’re known for since Japanese brewers typically use rice rather than wheat. This results in a crisp, refreshing pilsner-style taste that goes perfectly with their traditional cuisine.
Japan is currently on a Craft Beer Boom
It’s probably no surprise that there is a craft beer and microbrewery revolution in Japan since this trend is also sweeping the globe in general. There are about 200 microbreweries in Japan, and that number continues to rise as more startups are launched and sake brewers and winemakers venture into the beer industry as well.
The most popular craft beers are Indian Pale Lagers like the Rydeen Beer IPA, with its ABV of 6%, uniquely fresh citrus notes, and herbal, floral tones from the hops. Another example is the Coedo Marihana Session IPA with its gorgeous aroma, strong flavor, sophisticated bitterness, and low alcohol content that makes it perfect for easy drinking.
Beer is the Most Popular Alcoholic Beverage in Japan
You read that right—move over, sake, because even though it’s not quite as iconic, beer remains the most popular drink for the average Japanese consumer, regardless of age, gender, or industry. With the rise of craft beer and the longevity of traditional beer, there’s no end in sight for this drink’s continued popularity!
As you can see from these facts about Japanese beer, there’s a lot more to this bitter beverage than meets the eye. Japanese beer is a symbol of culture, history, and innovation—from age-old brands to up-and-coming startups ready to take center stage.
Find some of the best Japanese beers on our online store at Ralph’s. Simply filter our imported beer in the Philippines collection by country, and try the various Japanese beer brands we’ve got to offer. Kampai!