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Drinking in Japan: Beer


UpdateMay 25, 2018
ReleaseMay 25, 2018

At an izakaya (Japanese-style bar), you may often hear someone shouting “beer to start with!” from somewhere. Japanese beer goes well with Japanese dishes. Many Japanese people like beer and usually order beer to start off with for a toast. We will feature the culture of local beer in Japan as well as popular craft beer.

■ Categories of Beer

Japan is the only country that has three categories for beer, including beer, happoshu, and a new, third type.


Beer is made from fermentation of ingredients, including malt, hops, and water. When the ratio of malt used in the total amount of ingredients is 50% or over, it is called beer. The regulation and rules have changed to allow those made with other auxiliary ingredients, such as fruit and seasonings, rather than wheat, rice, and corn, to also be called beer.



Happoshu, sometimes referred to as low malt beer, is lighter than beer and easy-to-drink.

New category: the third beer

The third beer doesn’t use malt at all for production, so it is not beer but a beer-like beverage. It is cheaper than real beer, making it less expensive and easier on the wallet.

■ Some Tips Concerning Japan’s Beer Culture


Beer and edamame

Beer is often served with edamame (green soybeans) at bars and restaurants. Both go together perfectly!

Frozen draft beer

Some places serve frozen draft beer during the hot and humid summer. The frozen foam gives a crispy texture and it looks like soft-serve ice cream. You may feel as if you are eating beer-flavored soft-serve ice cream. It is perfect in summer.

Beer gardens

It is more popular as a summer event to enjoy ice-cold beer with yakiniku (grilled meat) outdoors rather than going to izakaya.

■ Beer Gardens in Tokyo

Mt. Takao Beer Mount
Hilton Odaiba Craft Beer Garden

■ Craft beer in Japan

Although there are still less craft beer breweries in Japan compared to some other countries, the production of craft beer in Japan has been increasing in recent time.

■  Recommended Craft Beer in Japan!



This brewery has a store attached to a brewery where you can see beer production close-up. The Tokyo branch has a stylish atmosphere, the Yokohama branch has a classical atmosphere, and Kyoto branch serves original Japanese dishes that go well with beer.

② Niigata Station Craft Beer Hall

A craft beer specialty shop located at the South Exit of Niigata Station. You can enjoy 40 kinds of draft craft beer (seasonal and trendy) at from 500 yen.

③ Kiuchi Brewery

This Japanese craft beer brewery has won some international awards. “Brew On Premises” in Ibaraki Prefecture offers you an opportunity to brew your own beer and design your own label.

④ COEDO Craft Beer 1000 Labo

This brewery aims for brewing 1,000 kinds of craft beer and serves limited-COEDO craft beer that you can only taste here. There is also a Chinese restaurant to enjoy great pairing of craft beer and dim sum.
The information herein is as of May 2018.