When you think about Japan, its culture and cuisine, beer doesn’t always spring to mind. Sake may well be the drink you immediately associate with Japan but it is beer that is the country’s most popular beverage. They have been brewing in the South Pacific for over 300 years!
The Japanese have the Dutch to thank for bringing beer to the nation. During the Napoleonic wars, Dutch commissioner Hendrik Doeff was left without his beloved beer when supply lines were interrupted, so he commissioned his own brewery to ensure that his store would always be abundant. While Dutch traders traveling in the region opened up beer halls at the ports for thirsty sailors. Fast forward to the 80’s and the birth of two of the biggest globally recognised Japanese beers, Asahi (pronounced Ah-Sa-Hee) meaning rising sun and Kirin Ichiban, these rival brewers dominated the market with almost a 50/50 share by the early 90’s.
In 1994 all that changed when the strict brewing laws were relaxed so small craft brewers could set up shop and shake up the market in Japan, one of the best is Hitachino Nest who use a number of unusual ingredients such as nutmeg, orange peel and Sake along with the staple grain of the country rice. With so much happening with beer it’s a great time to shake up your range and go for a taste of the Far East!