For many Japanese people, a chilled glass of draught beer is a great reward after work, which sweeps away all fatigue from them. Many people love enjoying beer in an izakaya (pub) before going home. The pleasant and slight intoxication stimulate appetite and reduce mental stress.
In an izakaya, you would frequently hear them saying “Toriaezu biiru!” when they order a drink at first. Some say “Tori bii” in abbreviation. (Toriaezu means first of all and biiru is beer in Japanese pronunciations.)
Beer became popular among people after 1955 when Japan was in a high economic growth. Before that, a cup of hot sake played the main role for their first glass. However beer is served in shorter time than hot sake, the phrase “Toriaezu beer” was begun to use as the first glass of alcoholic drink in the feast.
And gluttonous people love to eat ramen after having beer in the party. It is because human body consumes blood sugar when resolving alcohol and ramen includes much inosinic acid that helps alcohol break down. So sometimes you can see people eating ramen in a food wagon on the street at late night.
Beer or beer-like Happoushu?
There are 5 major beer manufacturers and about 200 small local ones in all over Japan. “Which beer should I buy in a super market?” You will be at loss in a super market looking for a beer, because there are too many kinds.
Beer is considered to be fizzy beverage containing less than 20 grades alcohol and should be made of malts or wheat.
According to the liquor tax law in this country, there are three types of beverages depending on the percentage of malts. For example, beverage including more than 50 % malts, between 25% and 50% and less than 25%. The more malt included, the more tax rises. So the breweries have tried to develop beverages with less than 25% malts so that they can be cheaper and tasty. It is called “Happoushu （発泡酒）” in Japanese, meaning low-malt beer. That is why beer section of a supermarket is so confusing because there are plenty kinds of beer or Happoushu which looks like a beer.
Premium Beer is referred to Yebisu (Sapporo), The Premium Malts (Suntory), Jukusen (Asahi), and Ichiban Shibori Premium (Kirin). They are high class beer made of high quality ingredients by special methods. You can drink them in any bar, restaurant or buy them in a super market. I recommend that you try them in Japan.
People prefer to drink them on the special occasion like celebration. Also these products are preferred as seasonal gifts.
– Yebisu Beer
Plenty of precious malts are used for this premium product. The more malts are included in beer, the longer it takes to mature, so it takes 1.5 times more to make Yebisu than the normal beer.
– Also other makers sell these premium products:
The Premium Malts (Suntory)
Nowadays you can find beer with less carbohydrate and purine for health-conscious people. Several years ago, it was said that low or non carbohydrate beer is not tasty and it does not have deep taste, but recent years every company has developed full-bodied taste products.
Many breweries leaned from home of beer such as Germany and the Czech Republic and developed their own original beer. Here are some outstanding and interesting brands.
– Gotemba Kogen Beer (Gotemba city, Shizuoka)
It is made of the water running from Mt. Fuji and produced by German tecnique.
– Oze no Yukidoke by Ginjozo Brewery (Tatebayashi city, Gumma)
This beer is made by a sake brewer, Ryujin Shuzo known for its products such as “Oze no Yukidoke”. The producing method is based on the German one that makes beer only with malts, hops, water and yeast. The beer is not filtrated so you can enjoy a taste of living yeast and several fine minerals.
– Coedo Beer by Coedo Brewery (Kawagoe city, Saitama)
The beer is made of the city’s special product and sweet potatoes.
Information about brewery visit
Official exam for beer otaku! Beer Ken
(Japan Beer Exam by General Incorporated Association of Japan Beer Culture Study)
I think Japanese people like the words such as “qualification” or “approval test” for something valuable for them. So there are many types of exams, whether they are effective to find a better job or not. Beer Ken is one of them. This exam has 3 grades from the 3rd to the 1st. Some enthusiastic beer lovers are trying to be approved in the exam to deepen their knowledge about beer. The questions are about the Japan’s beer history, manufacturing method, ingredients and the best way to serve beer.