Articles on Japan, Links & Reviews

Articles on Japan Top Page | Japan Links Top Page | Japan Shop Reviews Top Page
 
Beer in Japan

Beer in Japan

Beer in Japan - Recommended Japanese Domestic Beers

Japanese Beer Basics

Deryk Bliss

Deryk Bliss
An escapee from Northern B.C., "Dez" has made Japan home for the last 10 years. When not turning out for the illustrious Saitama Jets or turning up on a ski slope somewhere, he can be found in tireless investigation in his quest to find the perfect craft beer. At least so he claims.

 
 

It's here, it's there, it's everywhere. Japanese beer. Not sure where to start? Let us steer you in the right direction.

 

The Big 4

The Big 4 breweries in Japan are Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory. Benefiting from Beer Tax Laws that increased production quotas out of the reach of smaller brewers, the Big 4 have monopolized the Japanese beer market for nearly a century. (Recommended craft beers in Japan).

 

Japanese Lager

Lager has been the preferred product of Japanese brewers and therefore has become synonymous with beer for many Japanese beer drinkers. Generally characterized by a golden colour, lighter body and slightly bitter aftertaste, lagers dominate the selection at izakayas (Japanese-style pubs), supermarkets, sake-yas (liquor stores), and the ever present conbini (convenience stores) throughout the country.

 

Prices

Prices for all Japanese domestic brands will usually hover in or around 215 yen for a 330ml can to nearly 400 yen for a 500ml can. Bottles (called “bin biru”) will be slightly more expensive but are arguably better value for money. Discount supermarkets may also, occasionaly, have lower prices on the usual titles.

 

Availability

While selection will vary, it will be a rare shop indeed that does not have at least 3 of the Big 4 represented on their shelves. The exception to this can be Orion Breweries' Orion Draft, which is slightly more difficult to find (but well worth it!).

 

Enjoyment

As with all mass-produced lagers the colder the better. The crisper section of your fridge (the veggie storage shelf) should do the trick. You might consider chilling a beer glass along with the beer to better enhance what flavours there are on offer.

It is pretty well known that in Japan it isn't illegal to consume alcohol in public, including on the streets, in parks or even on public transportation. Having said that, moderation is the key here. It's not going to be just you and your friends on the trains or in the parks so best to not get too carried away.

 

Warning "Near Beer"

Japan offers a wide variety of "near beers". If you are looking for some real beer do not attempt the happoshu ("beer-like" beverage) and definitely avoid at all costs the “diet” or “calorie off” beers! Remember, if in doubt look for the nama kanji-. The 生=real beer.

 

Japanese Brewery Information on the Web:

Asahi Breweries
http://www.asahibeer.co.jp/english/

Kirin Breweries
http://www.kirin.com/

Sapporo Breweries
http://www.sapporobeer.jp/english/index.html

Suntory Breweries
http://www.suntory.com/

 

Asashi Prime Time

A very smooth and surprisingly, reasonably full-bodied beer for a mass market brand

 

Asahi Premium

Asahi's response to Suntory's Premium Malts is a pleasant beer with a good, if slightly bitter finish.

 

Kirin Heartland

Kirin's green bottled brew is a well-rounded lager that can match any day or mood and offers good value for money as well.

 

Kirin Gold & Brau Meister

Decent passes at a more German style brew that show a nice shift away from the straight lager style beers from Kirin.

 

Orion Draft

Orion. Fantastic for the beach, the beer garden, and summer. Or, when you want to bring it all back again on those cold winter eves!

 

Sapporo "Nama"

The flagship. Good any time of year.
Sapporo Autumn & Winter Seasonal Beers
Slight variations on the "Nama" theme but annually interesting and a good way to shake up the routine a bit at the end of the year. Keep in mind, only limited numbers are sold.

 

Suntory Premium Malt's

2 gold medals 2 years in a row in European competition. Must be something to this one. A very pleasant surprise the first time and quite enjoyable for subsequent rounds.
http://www.suntory.co.jp/beer/premium/

 

Yebisu & Yebisu “The Hop”

Higher quality, richer flavours and a cleaner finish than any other mass market brand on the market. Look no further than the gold and green Yebisu cans at the supermarket.

 

Also check out: Recommended craft beers in Japan

Kirin

Kirin Brau Meister

Kirin Brau Meister
 

 

KIRIN Heartland

KIRIN Heartland

KIRIN Heartland
 

 

Kirin

Kirin THE GOLD

Kirin THE GOLD
 

 

Yebisu

Yebisu Premium

Preimum Yebisu
 

 

Sapporo

Winter Seasonal Beer: Fuyumonogatari (from Oct.)

Sapporo Fuyumonogatari
 

 

Sapporo

Sapporo "Nama"

Sapporo "Nama"
 

 

Suntory

Suntory The Premium Malt's

The Premium Malt's
 

 

Orion

Orion Draft

Orion Draft
 

 

Asahi

Asahi Prime Time

Asahi Prime Time
 

 

Asahi

Asahi Premium

Asahi Premium
 

 

In addition to Japan's Premier Shop Directory, English OK! offers the following services:
Customer Service English Training: Onsite Workshops, e-Learning & Books
Multilingual Website Design

 

EOK.jp - Japan's Premier Shop Directory with maps and coupons

©2017 English OK! Company Limited. All Rights Reserved.