For enjoying beer, nowhere in Japan is more ideal than Hokkaido, whose humidity is pleasantly low. Every summer, people flock to the Sapporo Odori Beer Garden, said to be one of the largest beer gardens in Japan, for the pleasure of drinking beer there.
Major breweries such as Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd., Asahi Breweries, Ltd. and, of course, Sapporo Breweries, Ltd., produce beer at plants in the Sapporo area. Sapporo's strong association with beer dates from the beginning of the Meiji era. Visit sites that recall the history of brewing. They're sure to give you a deeper appreciation of beer, even it's the beer you usually drink.
September 23, 1876, the opening ceremony of Kaitaku-shi Brewery (from the photo archives of the Hokkaido University Library)
The country was assimilating Western culture, and the Meiji government saw beer production as a promising industry in Japan. Thus, in 1876, Kaitaku-shi Brewery, the predecessor of Sapporo Breweries, Ltd., was established at the North 2, East 4, block of Chuo Ward, now the location of Sapporo Factory. Sapporo Breweries produced all its beer here from then until 1989, when their Hokkaido plant was built in the suburbs of Sapporo. The outer walls of red brick and the black chimney of the old Sapporo Breweries building reminds us of the period of the Kaitaku-shi, the Hokkaido Development Office. The brewery makes Kaitaku-shi Beer using the same recipe as that used when the brewery opened.
"Once you've got barley and hops, you've got a drink called beer": This was the ad slogan when Kaitaku-shi Brewery started operation. The expression owes to Hokkaido's ideal beer-making circumstances: hops, an ingredient of beer, were discovered; the cool weather is suitable for growing barley; and the abundant subflow of the Toyohira River was suitable for beer-making. The subflow is still used for production today. Chosen as a site for large-scale beer production, Sapporo can definitely be called a sacred place for producing beer, a place with felicitous conditions.
Sapporo Kaitaku-shi Brewery was rebuilt with red brick in the Taisho era. It still recalls that period.
About a five-minute drive from Sapporo Kaitaku-shi Brewery is Sapporo Beer Museum, where you can learn about the history of the beer industry in Japan, including that of Sapporo Breweries, Ltd. The area around the museum was an industrial park during Hokkaido's early development. Factories producing miso (soybean paste), salt and lumber flourished there. The area was the spiritual center of craftsmanship in Hokkaido. The Tanukikoji shopping arcade is as venerated a place for enjoying beer as the North 2 East 4 neighborhood is for producing it. Tanukikoji is one of the oldest shopping arcades in Hokkaido, and Beer Hall Lion Tanukikoji stands there. Lion is the oldest beer hall in Hokkaido, and it's been pouring draft in the same special way for the over 110 years since it opened, in 1914.
Don't miss other unique local craft beers.
There are also beers made from local ingredients. Eniwa no Seiryu is made from local barley and can be enjoyed at Ecorin Village in Eniwa, a suburb of Sapporo. These examples show the rich variety of beers in Sapporo. Why not go and find a glass of beer to your liking?
Back then, a cold Sapporo beer cost today's equivalent of 3,000 yen.
Sapporo Breweries, Ltd. inherited the five-pointed star, the symbol of the Hokkaido Development Office.
The brewery opened at the location where Kaitaku-shi Brewery once stood. Tour the brewing tanks and exhibitions that show the history of beer.
A beer hall converted from storage space for beer. Beer produced at Sapporo Kaitaku-shi Brewery can be tasted here. Mongolian barbecue (1,300 yen)
Exhibits show the change from Kaitaku-shi Brewery to Sapporo Breweries, Ltd. Enjoy beer-tasting here (200 yen).
Since its establishment in 1876, this brewery has been at the forefront of beer production in Japan. The brick construction and the chimney, which symbolizes the brewery, recall bygone days. The beer here overflows with romance and is produced using a method that hasn't changed since the time of the Hokkaido Development Office.
You can it drink here!
Kaitaku-shi Brewery was established in 1876. The beer recalls the flavor of that in the days of the Kaitaku-shi (the Hokkaido Development Office).
It features moderate bitterness and a mild flavor.
Bottom-fermenting yeast from Germany is used. Added to the brewing water is deep-sea water from Kumaishi, processed using negative ions. Kumaishi water is rich in minerals. The brewery also produces unfiltered draft beer in barrels. This Rusutsu Microbrew is sold at Rusutsu Resort.
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350ml can: \350 -
330ml bottle: \500 -
500ml bottle: \735 –
Note: Retail prices vary by shop.
The two Canadian-trained brewmasters make a point of placing great importance on the human side, instead of depending solely on machines. The small batches of only 1,000 liters enable the brewmasters to fill each bottle with their souls. The beer's full-bodied flavor has earned it quite a following.
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A lively aroma and strong bitterness from American hops, with a fresh citrus scent
Uses the Haruyutaka variety of wheat produced in Ebetsu; fruity flavor; popular among women
"Pirikawakka" means "clean water" in Ainu. As shown in the name, the beer uses water from Chitose, which has been listed as one of Japan's "Hundred Most Remarkable Waters." Several kinds of malt are used to achieve specific qualities, such as color and body. Filtering is kept to a minimum, so that the yeast can do its job.
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Thanks to the bitterness of its quality hops and the refreshing throat-feel, you'll never get enough! Fresh taste
A wheat beer made from barley malt and wheat malt; reommended to women for its fruity taste
A dark beer with creamy foam and a hoppy bitterness; bittersweet and refreshing
This brewery develops microbrews that take advantage of local ingredients. They're particular about the water used for brewing: It's Nihonkai Iwanai deep-sea water, which is clean, cold and taken from 300 m or deeper in Iwanai Bay.
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The main ingredients are rice and wheat from Shinshinotsu. It has a mild flavor and is easy to drink.
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The soft flavor from rice produced in Ishikari goes well with the full-flavored malt.