Beer enlightens your inquisitive mind! A new dining experience with a special selection of the Japanese Craft Beers.
In an exclusive Japanese restaurant, they appear ignorant about beer. Are you aware of this?
They recommend brands of wine or Japanese sake to sip with each dish.
However, for Japanese beers, the situation appears different.
In exclusive Japanese restaurants, they serve only regular brands of beer which are available at any general local store in the city.
Trying to develop an uninspired scene; the uprising of craft beer has finally arrived to Japan.
We had the chance to speak to Mr. Shiro Yamada the innovator of Nippon Craft Beers.
Craft Beers and Local Beers
In recent years, “Craft Beer” has been gaining popularity in Japan.
A few years ago “Local Beer was catching on, but there are very few people who can explain the difference.
“First of all, the framework creation of Local and Craft Beer is very different.”
Local Beer, “Ji Beer” are Japanese specific words.
In recent history, by Japanese law, we had to manufacture and sell a minimum of 2,000 kiloliters of beer. In 1994, the quantities were moderated to 60 kiloliters.
With this laid back approach, the local municipalities and sake breweries were able to start brewing beer as a sideline.
This movement created the term “Local Beer”
On the other hand, Craft Beer is a phrase that developed in the United States.
Since the 70’s in the States, you could brew your own beer to share and enjoy between yourself and close friends. There was then a new movement called “the Home Brewer.”
Within this movement, unique beers were created reflecting the individual’s preference.
Some breweries made it into business and became successful.
These days, the market for craft beer in the United States is almost at the same scale as the whole beer market in Japan.
In Europe there are many small scale breweries which reflect the heavy commitment of brewers from the olden days. These are not referred to as Craft Beers.
Beers influenced by Americans was known as brewery beer.
The intention to democratize beer
On the Nippon Craft Beer website, there has been a proclaimed goal to democratize beer.
What is the concept to democratize it?
“The world of craft beer is notably very open-source. For example, browsing a popular American brewery website we can find important parts of a recipe, such as hop varieties and how to use them. It is similar to the open-source concept in the IT industry.
Experienced brewers are happy to share their knowledge and help people.
In the world of the home brewer, if you raise a question on beer recipe’s, there will always be somebody who will kindly answer you.
There is an inspiring sharing sprit existing in the world of American craft beer.
People consider the craft beer culture as a common foundation. There is very little exclusive movement such as confidentiality of recipes or the elimination of competitors.
The separation between manufacturers and the consumer is very close. They often have a tendency to create a tasty beer together.
This can be expressed as “democratization.”
Contrary to the American beer market, Mr. Yamada feels the beer industry in Japan is completely against demoratizaion.
“Even though regulations have been relaxed, 60 kilolitres a year is still a substantial amount. It is equal to around 100,000 large bottles of beer.”
In other countries such as United States, Canada and Australia, you will of course need a license for the commercial sales. However, there are no specific regulations to brewing and enjoying beer in the privacy of your own home.
People can make their own beer at home and enjoy it on their own or with friends and family.
Brewing is actually illegal in Japan! This is probably the reason why it is perhaps still difficult to inspire a culture of home brewing.
I want to do something for beer which can be left behind in history
For Mr. Yamada, the inspiration for creating Craft Beer, “KAGUA” was that he noticed there was no suitable choices to match a high-end Japanese space.
Even in high class restaurants, only standard brands of beer are sold. However, there is no way for wine selection. This is a strange sight.
Japanese cuisine aims to emphasize the taste in each mouth full.
In exclusive restaurants, people have a more critical eye towards everything.
Why has Japanese beer been left behind?
Mr. Yamada believes, there is a lack of diversity in Japanese beers, which has been caused by too stricter Japanese laws and regulations.
“The owners of exclusive restaurants, prior to purchasing, often examine the selection of ingredients, such as the vegetables, fish and meats. They also go to inspect the methods of production to learn the history of what they will provide to their clients.
Even with ordinary ingredients, to add value, the chef provides sophisticated techniques in their cooking. However for beer, there is no extra effort seen.”
The point Mr. Yamada has been addressing about “KAGUA “ is, the lack of awareness for Japanese beer.
As a consequence, through Craft Beer, we have finally began to enter the phase in which we can enjoy the differences in various tastes of beer .
Beer brings happiness
“Beer provide colorful looks and various faces.
Mr. Yamada said he would like to show us some diversified aspects.”,
Eventually, we asked Mr. Yamada, how much can these beers, “KAGUA” or “Far Yeast” express their implicit diversity?
“It is 1%.”
The percentage of his answer was much less than we expected.
Additionally, he informed us that he had proposed these two kinds of beer towards “people who like delicious food.”
“If I rephrase; people who enjoy to taste delicious food, are people who are often ambitious and who like to explore. These people would also think there are more flavorsome beers available and would like to know the perception of the manufacturers. They would also like to know the details of how to produce beer, rather than only thinking beer should be produced by major manufacturers. In our world, there are many of these people who have inquisitive minds and I would like to continue to engage such people.”
For Mr. Yamada, Craft beer provides unlimited possibilities.
The craft beer market in Japan is an opportunity full of potential possibilities!
If more people had a chance to taste “KAGUA” and “Far Yeast”, then these beers that break all the conventional rules would attract more and more people to share this new beer experience.
Then one day there wouldn’t be anybody saying with “we only had branded beer.”
We envisaged the future scene of Japanese beers, breaking the standards in restaurants introducing some of specialist recipes only found in craft beers
日本クラフトビール (Nippon Craft Beer)http://www.nipponcraftbeer.com/
The location of this interview
The interview was supported by “factory” near Miyamasuzaka in Shibuya.
In their bar, they promote “KAGUA”-Blanc, Rouge, Special Edition 2013 and have draught Rouge available all the time.
Far Yeast Tokyo Blonde and Tokyo White are also available and you can enjoy all kinds of Japanese Craft Beer at this bar.
factory (Miyamausuzaka, Shibuya)102, Aoyama Miyano buiding, 2–8–7 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo