Happy fun time? More like Happoushu!

Leave it to the Dutch to bring beer to Japan. A beer hall was opened during the height of trade between the Dutch Empire and Japan for sailors making the long journey. What happened afterwards, was simply remarkable. The Japanese quickly became huge fans of the bitter lagers brought over by the dutch. German brewers who emigrated to Japan in the 19th century brought over their own style of brews and not too long after, beer became the most popular alcoholic beverage in the archipelago. Today, it makes up more than two thirds of the nearly 10 billion liters of alcohol consumed in Japan. As it always has been, Lager is the most popular beer style, but other popular styles include Happoushu, a low-malt and sparkling Japanese beer that has been produced in heavy quantities as the proportion of ingredients subjects brewers to lower taxes. Beer in Japan that uses a ratio of less than 67% malt to the remaining solids being adjuncts is classified as Happoushu and is taxed less. Brews that don't use any malt (such as replacing with soybeans) aren't considered either beer or Happoushu, and are taxed even less. These beers are also known as "third category beers, or Happousei.

Many Japanese beers are enjoyed around the world. For example, the Shepherd Neame Brewery in Kent, England, UK brews Asahi under license, and Sapporo is served at most Japanese restaurants in America. Three of the four major brands of Japanese beer are available for retail distribution in the United States, though the prevalence of these beers is based on region. Some Japanese microbreweries have even started exporting their product abroad. Again, relating to tax issues, microbreweries are beginning to make a significant portion of the Japanese beer market as strict constraints on breweries have been lifted since 1994. So the next time you go to Japan, consider complementing your ramen with beer.


Rated Japanese Beers

1-19-15 - Kiuchi Brewery Hitachino Nest Weizen - 2.81, Hefeweizen, 5.00%
4-19-14 - Uehara Shuzou Company, Limited - 2.67, Japanese Rice Lager, 5.00%
11-02-13 - Kiuchi Hitachino Nest White Ale - 2.87, Japanese Witbier, 5.00%
12-28-10 - Sapporo Breweries Limited Sapporo - 2.62, Japanese Lager, 5.20%
3-13-10 - Asahi Brewery (Liscened to Shepherd Neame Brewery) Asahi - 3.01, Japanese Lager, 5.00%

Popular Beer Styles in Japan

  • Lager
  • Happoushu
  • Dry Beer
  • Happousei
  • Japanese Breweries with Rated Beer

  • Asahi Brewery - Sumida, Tokyo, Japan
  • Kiuchi Brewery - Ibaraki-en, Naka-Gun, Japan
  • Sapporo Breweries Limited - Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
  • Uehara Shuzou Company, Limited - Niigata-ken, Nishikanbara-gun, Japan