Craft Beer in Japan (and the US)
Howdy, Chris here.
Many people complain that finding craft beer in Japan is difficult, and outside of Tokyo that is largely true. But, that doesn’t mean that craft beer isn’t being made in Japan. Check out this website that shows around 180 Japanese craft breweries. While some breweries are missing — most notably Bayern Meister Bier in Fujinomiya — it’s still an impressive effort to spread the word about Japanese craft beers.
Click on any brewery’s name and you can get more information about the brewery and their beers — sorry, Japanese only. But if you use a translation site, like Google Translate, you can get the gist of what’s going on. For example, here’s what Baird Brewing is all about:
“Baird Beer is to experience an emphasis on flavor. The basic formula for all of Baird Beer is like any of them. It is, Balance (balance) + Complexity (complexity) = Character (personality). Baird Beer Brewer who has devoted a passion for making beer, full of flavor and personality. Baird Beer is a small-scale, carefully and enthusiasm is being made in deference to tradition.”
And from the US, we get news that beer production is booming, and craft beer is leading the way. According to this site, the average American lives within 10 miles/16 kilometers of a brewery! That’s pretty damn mind boggling to me. Here’s an interesting graphic that shows the number of breweries in red and production in yellow. (Note: You can view the graphic in larger size at the link above.)
As the graphic shows, the number of US breweries has constantly risen since around 1980. Craft brewing was made possible in Japan in 1984 when the law regulating minimum production was revised, and since then we have gone through several boom-bust cycles. At present, we’re in more of a bust period, with lesser-known (and probably less-delicious) breweries gradually disappearing. According to one “industry insider”, the number may even decrease to ~100 from the current ~180 in the next two or three years.
Hopefully, though, the ones that remain — that is, the strongest breweries with the best beers — will inspire more beer enthusiasts to take the risk and open up their own breweries so that Japan can experience the same type of beer resurgence that the US has enjoyed over the past three decades.
Edit: This has nothing with what I wrote about above, but I thought it was funny and cute, so here it is: Twenty Things Worth Knowing About Beer.