Japanese Sake Makers Shake Off Tradition, Try Brewing Craft Beer
on 18/09/12 at 10:50 amBeer
Until recently, if you ordered Japanese beer, there weren’t many to choose from. Before the industry was deregulated in the 1990s, four major brewers — Asahi, Suntory, Sapporo and Kirin – controlled the manufacture of Japanese beer.
But the major brands’ domination is ebbing, for reasons that have as much to do with Japan’s ancient history as with its evolving palates. And now some traditional sake brewers are ditching the tradition and trying their hand at craft beer brewing.
From a dusty country road about 100 miles north of Tokyo rises the white-washed facade of a sake brewery. Here in the quiet town of Naka, the Kiuchi family has been brewing Japan’s ancient rice wine for seven generations, since the time of the shoguns.
But these days, the beverage rolling off Kiuchi’s production line would make its 19th century founders squirm. The brewery is now a leading maker of micro-beer.