DIARY FROM HANKYU STAFFS - Japanese Local Beer & Food
INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE CRAFTBEERS
Hello, my name is Martin from Hankyu Travel DMC Japan!
This time I want to share with you one of the trends in Japanese artisan production. This trend has reached its peak of popularity in this pandemic, I don't mean anything other than craft beer brewing.
Unlike European countries, beer does not have a long history in Japan. The Japanese beer industry began in the late 19th century after Japan opened its doors to the world at the dawn of the Meiji Era (1868-1912). From that moment the beer was gradually gaining popularity until the beginning of the Second World War. The war significantly damaged production by making it difficult to acquire the raw material necessary for the manufacture of beer.
In addition to the problems in the supply chain, production was affected by the savage tax policy of the Japanese government at that time, which sought to solve the costs of the war that eroded the national economy. The beverage tax was increasing exponentially as the war dragged on, this caused the demand for beer to plummet until it became practically non-existent. It took until 1955 for demand to re-emerge, which was only possible thanks to the rapid growth of the Japanese electronics industry that made it possible for middle-class families to purchase home refrigerators. This fact revolutionized the demand for the drink, universalizing its consumption and transforming beer as the most popular spirit drink in the country.
As of 1994, the regulation to obtain the beer production license was made more flexible, being necessary to produce only 60,000 liters of beer per year (previously, 200,000 liters per year were necessary). It was thanks to this democratization of licensing that the first great craft beer boom began in Japan, with more than 200 small craft breweries. The manufacture of these breweries was called "ji-biru" which means regional beer. Unfortunately the quality of the product was not the best and the boom caused by the change in regulation inevitably expired.
However, in the last ten years there has been a renaissance in craft beer brewing. On this occasion, the quality of the product has improved substantially. In fact, many Japanese craft beers have been awarded at the most prestigious international conventions such as the "World Beer Cup".
The following are some of the best Japanese craft beers:
- Yona Yona Ale
This beer has a citrus and floral flavor with a hint of spices. It is easier to drink than most beers thanks to a sweet aftertaste that pairs well with the bitter taste of hops.
- Sankt Gallen Shonan Gold
This beer has a strong hint of orange and grapes that creates a refreshing throat sensation. The brewer is the original pioneer of craft beer in Japan.
- Shigakogen Beer
This manufacturer produces all the ingredients used to make its beer, in this way it has achieved a flavor that sets it apart from the competition. In fact, some of their beers use rice for sake in the brewing process.
- Swan Lake Beer
This beer has a hint of caramel that adds a certain sweetness that pairs very well with the flavor of the malts, the smoke from the roasted hops and the slight nutty aroma. The brewer of this beer has been awarded at the "World Beer Awards" on two occasions.
- Hitachino Nest Japanese Ale
It is an amber-colored beer with a hint of caramel and chocolate. At the end it has a moderate bitter taste that makes it easy to drink. Currently the brewery that makes it exports its beer to more than 15 countries.
Japan is internationally recognized for the quality of its products and the thoroughness with which they are manufactured. Craft beer is no exception, its brewers invest all their effort and dedication to live up to the quality standard imposed by other products, which are admired by foreign tourists, such as sake, green tea, wagyu meat, etc. The next time you visit Japan, don't hesitate to try the craft beers! You will not regret it!
INTRODUCING JAPANESE FOOD - LOCAL UDON NOODLES
Hi, this is Kaho from Hankyu Travel DMC Japan.
Today I would like to introduce to you Japanese udon noodles.
Udon noodles are made from flour with a springy texture, and often served in a bowl of broth or with a small bowl of dipping sauce. Some of you may have heard of “Sanuki udon” in Kagawa Prefecture, which is one of the most famous udon brands in Japan, but there are many other local udon noodles.
This time, I am introducing “Musashino udon” from my home town, Saitama Prefecture. The noodles of Musashino udon are thicker and have a chewier texture than typical Japanese udon noodles. It is often served with a separate bowl of hot broth with soy sauce flavor and sliced pork. You can enjoy Musashino udon at many restaurants in Saitama.
(By the way, please let me add “Coedo,” a nice local brewery in Saitama, to Martin’s recommendation of Japanese craft beers above.)
You can find various local udon noodles here, so please give it a try when you visit Japan next time!