JQ Magazine: Japan Society Launches Beer Revolution

Green Tea IPA, one of over 20 beers ready for tasting at Japan Society's Beer Revolution event Oct. 5. (Courtesy Baird Brewery)

By Vlad Baranenko (Saitama-ken, 2000-02) for JQ magazine. Vlad is an avid photographer.

With an exploding market for craft beer here in the U.S., Japan’s contribution to the industry, known domestically as ji bīru (地ビール), has seen tremendous growth over the past 17 years.

On Oct. 5, beer buffs and those who simply enjoy an occasional cold pint alike will get an opportunity to sample from at least 20 kinds of beer at New York’s Japan Society‘s “Japan’s Beer Revolution: The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Japanese Craft Brewing.”

While previously held back by government regulation, Japan’s microbreweries took off in 1994, and have since been experimenting with a variety of traditional ingredients such as ginger and oysters to create rich and complex flavors to replace the standard lagers in order to satisfy local taste palettes. Since many of the beers are produced in age old sake breweries, the Japanese had no trouble adapting Western methods to manufacture a product whose quality would no doubt impress even the pickiest connoisseurs of Belgian brew.

The event will begin with discussion of industry trends, with Bryan Baird of Baird Beer of Namazu and Brooklyn Brewery’s Steve Hindy offering their views on the sociopolitical conditions in Japan that have allowed Japanese microbreweries to contribute to global craft beer’s tremendous growth. Samples will be available from at least 10 breweries which include Baird Beer, Brooklyn Brewery, Coedo Brewery, Dieu du Ciel, Echigo Beer Company, Ise Kadoya, Kiuchi Brewery (Hitachino), Orion Breweries Ltd., Ryujin Shuzo Co., and Stone Brewing Co. Some of the beers have been specially brewed for Japan Society.

As Japan’s ales are considered as some of the world’s best, and the high demand often makes it difficult for Japanese breweries to keep up with foreign orders, the upcoming event is a rare opportunity to experience beers that are regarded by many distinguished beer critics as the finest in the world.

Japan’s Beer Revolution: The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Japanese Craft Brewing is being held at Japan Society Oct. 5th at 6:30 p.m. For more information, click here.