April 23rd is Craft Beer Day in Japan!18 Apr 2019
April 23rd is Craft Beer Day in Japan!
The Beer Day Selection Committee, led by the Craft Beer Association, which made the soil of the growing beer culture fertile and helped it sprout, invited the public to submit Beer Day Selection applications. At the opening ceremony of the International Beer Cup on October 8, 1999, it was announced that April 23 will be the Craft Beer Day.
On this day in 1516, the "Reinheitsgebot" or "German Beer Purity Law" came into force, and breweries in Germany traditionally celebrate the "Day of German Beer" (National beer day) on April 23. The applicant who suggested this date noted that this is a historical date when beer was first defined in the whole world. Also, when spring is coming and Golden Week is just around the corner, it is a great season to drink refreshing beer!
History of Craft Beer in Japan
The strength of the craft beer scene is truly remarkable when you realize that the Japanese craft beer industry didn’t exist 25 years ago.
It was only in 1994 that the Japanese government softened the strict laws that governed the granting of brewing licenses. Before that, a brewery needed to be able to produce 2 million liters of beer each year to become licensed, which was achievable for industrial-sized breweries only. With the change in regulations, the lowest limit of annual beer production per one brewery was set to 60,000 liters, thus allowing new smaller breweries to enter the market. It was like a breath of fresh air for beer lovers who were tired of the mass-produced lagers and pilsners on the store shelves – they could now enjoy many different styles such as IPAs, ales and stouts produced by smaller breweries.
The Echigo Brewery was the very first to open in Japan since the new law and they have been going strong in the world of beer ever since. The brewery is located in Niigata prefecture, which is the number one rice growing prefecture in Japan and home to the famous Koshihikari rice, a short grain rice regarded as the best quality and flavor in all of Japan. The brewery has high standards when selecting the Koshihikari rice to assure the superb flavor outcome.
Echigo Koshihikari Beer is the flagship brand of Echigo Brewery. It is a rice style lager with 5% alcohol. While the malt ingredient is imported from Europe, the rice is harvested literally from the backyard of Echigo Brewery.
Though this beer is categorized as being dry, the brewery uses the time-consuming German decoction method to bring out the natural sweet flavor from the Niigata grown Koshihikari rice, which can appeal even to those who do not like dry beer.
It is crisp and refreshing with smooth finish. Goes very well with Japanese food such as sushi. It has a slightly acidic tang to the regular lager flavour, but it is not too overpowering.