If you’ve never been to Japan but plan to go in the future, you must try Japanese beer. That is if you happen to like beer in general.
Western beer has been called watered down Japanese beer here in Japan however, you’ll need to be the judge.
Japanese beer is one of the most embraced beverages in the country. The major breweries distribute worldwide and bring the fresh, crisp taste of Japanese beer to people all over the world. Although beer is normally associated with Western countries like Germany and America, Japanâ€™s breweries have made their presence well known on the world market.
The origins of Japanese beer date back the Edo period, when the Dutch immigrants opened beer halls for sailors who traveled through Japan. In the Meiji period, German brewers introduced the production of beer to the Japanese. Early Japanese breweries Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo still survive to this day.
Before the late 1900s, Sake was the most popular Japanese beverage. Sake is a densely alcoholic beverage, and most Japanese alcohol is termed sake even if it is not. Beer wasnâ€™t used or produced in Japan on a widespread scale until the 1860s, when the growing American expatriate community created a demand for beer in Japan.
To begin with, beer wasnâ€™t even seen as an alcoholic beverage. It has about a third of the alcohol as sake, and the Japanese saw it as a tonic. In fact, beer was originally sold in pharmacies as a type of â€œcure allâ€ for many conditions.
However, beer eventually became of a favorite of the Japanese population. The Sapporo Brewery and Copelandâ€™s Brewery began producing local brews. By 1920, beer became a popular drink choice in many of Japanâ€™s major cities.
Japan has embraced beer because it goes so well with many Japanese foods. One of the favorite combinations of the Japanese people is beer and edamame, or boiled, salted soy beans. Beer is also very practical for the Japanese. It is lighter than sake, and makes a perfect summer drink. It also cleans the palate and refreshes the throat. Compared to beers from other countries, Japanese beer is considered to be very light and refreshing.
Lager beers are the most common variety made by Japanese breweries. However there is also a large presence of Happoushu varieties, which are made with lower grain content. The Happoushu beers are a low malt, sparkling drink.
In Japan, beer is sold in street vending machines as well as other more traditional avenues. However, the vending machines cannot distribute alcohol after 11 pm. Consumers are allowed to drink beer virtually anywhere, but there are strict laws against operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol.