Summer Treat – How would you like a Japanese Beer?

Well, beer in Japan was originally brought in by Dutch traders around 17th century. They stationed at Dejima in Nagasaki and opened a beer hall for sailors working the trade route between Japan and the Dutch Empire.

Although the origin is not in Japan, Japanese brewers were very serious to the beer development in the country so that the Dry Senso or ドライ戦争, meaning Dry Wars, was impressive in the industry history in Japan. It was a period of intense competition between Japanese brewery companies over dry beer. It began in 1987 with the launch of Asahi Super Dry by Asahi Breweries which led to the introduction of dry beer by other breweries. The Kirin Brewery Company, which then held 50% share of the Japanese domestic beer market, launched Kirin Dry in February 1988. However, they were unable to stop Asahi’s momentum. In 1990 Kirin launched Ichiban Shibori in direct competition with Asahi Super Dry, but ended up cannibalizing profits on their own Kirin Lager Beer brand. Kirin never ended up regaining its 50% market share.

The other top two players, Sapporo Breweries and Suntory also joined the war by launching their dry beer lines in February 1988 They couldn't either stop Asahi's leading position in that category, which established Asahi's strong position in the market even till nowadays. It is definitely our favorite Japanese beer brand for all different reasons.

Not until after 1994, breweries could not get a license without producing at least 2 million liters (528,000 gal) per year. In 1994, Japan's strict tax laws were relaxed allowing smaller breweries (microbreweries) producing 60,000 liters (15,850 gal) per year for a beer license or 6000 kiloliters per year for a happoshu license. The distinction between beer and happoshu is based on the amount of malt used relative to grain adjuncts, with the term happoshu ascribed to low-malt brews. "Beer" according to Japanese regulations has to contain at least 67% malt (thus allowing up to 33% adjuncts including rice, corn, sorghum, potato, starch, and sugar).

As an adult older than 20 years, drinking beer can be the coolest experience in the summer heat. The country has been the 7th largest beer consumption region in the world, supported by after-work drinking culture as we mentioned in our earlier article. For this coming weekend, would you go find a Japanese beer to try? We definitely recommend Asahi Beer USA !

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