Japanese beer   ビール

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Beer brands are increasing in Japan.

Beer brands are gradually increasing in Japan.

Did you know? Beer is alcohol the most produced and most consumed in Japan.

Did you know? Beer is alcohol the most produced and most consumed in Japan.

An advertisement for beer Kirin, one of Japan's most popular beers.

An advertisement for beer Kirin, one of Japan's most popular beers.

Foamy drinks from the land of sake

Rather blonde and light, beer is everywhere in Japan and liberally imbibed in during meals. It has even dethroned the national alcohol, sake!

It was in the Edo period (1600-1868) Japan discovers beer, introduced by Dutch traders that the imperial power allowed to do business in Nagasaki. After opening the country to trade with the West, Americans in Yokohama open the first brewery in the country, and the beginnings of Japanese beer were promising in a country that so far had only partaken in sake (fermented rice alcohol) and shochu (distilled grain alcohol).

Faced with growing interest in the new beverage, Nakagawa Seibei, back from Germany, launched Sapporo in the city of the same name in 1876, soon followed by Yebisu and Kirin (Tokyo), Asahi (Osaka), Suntory and many others, which propelled it to the top of the podium of Japanese alcohols.

Asahi dominates the market

Beer is not only the top alcohol produced in the country (3.5 billion liters in 2010, compared to 500 million for shochu and 425 for sake), but also the most sold (including foreign beers).

Four names form most of the market share. Asahi is the leader, followed by Kirin, Suntory and Sapporo, but Japan has also seen the birth of a multitude of small local producers in recent years. A very lucrative market, supported by intense hype, advertising, and sponsorship (including that of the national football team), and the constant introduction of new products, such as seasonal beers.

However, be careful not to confuse traditional beer with happoshu, lighter malt beers, which are on the rise among Japanese consumers.

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