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USA vs. Japan - Beer

This comparison will be snappy quick and simple.  Japan just doesn't stand a chance against the USA in the beer arena.

Japanese Beer is Too Expensive
Japan does make some great-tasting beer, but unfortunately tobacco-loving Japanese politicians decided to tax the crap out of it, building a massive barrier to my regular beer enjoyment (unless you're paying).  Beer isn't good for you, but cigarettes make a much more appropriate taxation target.  Cigarettes are both bad for you and annoy others around you.  Beer at least doesn't give off carcinogenic fumes.  I digress.

To skirt the beer tax and improve sales, Japanese brewers release cheap near-beer substitutes (aka malt liquor) that in summary tastes worse than expired Bud Ice mixed with cat pee.  Granted some are noble attempts, but they're just not the real thing.

And if you're in the mood for imported beer, I hope you have your Swiss bank account number handy.  $6 for a single 12 oz. can of Budweiser?  No thanks, Mr. Miyaji.

Japanese Beer All Tastes the Same
Asahi, Sapporo, Kirin--I can't tell the difference.  Yebisu is a little different (being "premium"), but not by much.  Once in a while the big 3 brands will release a dark something-or-other, but then all those taste the same too.  I can't even tell the difference with their "season limited" releases.  Maybe it's just the can.  And maybe the entire country shares the same beer recipe.

Japan just doesn't have the beer variety that the USA enjoys.  When I compare Michelob to Rolling Rock to Sam Adams to Pyramid to Black Star (Please tell me Black Star is still around.), I break down and cry like a grown man deprived of awesome affordable beer.  Sam Adam's plethora alone blows Japan's beer variety out of the water.  Pumpkin ale, hefeweisen, Bohemian pilsner, Irish red, triple bock--God bless America.

And shame on you, Japan.  Your beer is overpriced and all tastes the same.  Well, now that I think about it, maybe it's not all bad.  At least I'm thinner than most of my beer-drinking American friends because I simply can't afford to regularly indulge in the calorie-packed hoppy magic that is BEER.

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  • Unfortunately, my hardcore anti-spam measures are a necessary evil.

    I'll try some of the local craft beers as you suggested, but just know that living here your days of picking up a $7 six pack of good bottled stuff are OVER!

  • Guest - Brian

    Man, my message board etiquette has gone down the toilet over the years. Here's a direct link to the photo:


    I like how your software considers imageshack to be a spam site.

  • Guest - Brian

    Hitachino Nest has varied from $4-$7 per bottle here (I can actually get some of it cheaper in Idaho-- go figure). So it's still pricey, but people buy it because it's GOOD. And their brewing methods sometimes make them stand out from the crowd. They brew with rice and ginger and have one beer that matures in sake casks.

    Here's a photo of the Japanese beer I currently have with me-- my Hitachino Nest stuff and the Asahi Kuronama Black (which I forgot to mention is brewed only in Japan). You know what Yebisu is so I didn't bother including it. The seasonal commemorative ale celebrates the new year and would hopefully be easily available for you right now. That one has an interesting taste to it. Kinda like champagne, which would make sense for a New Year's beer.

    I too have pondered what a hardship it would be to lose out on so much good, cheaper beer in the U.S if/when I move over (especially living in the Pacific Northwest now, the world's hub for good hoppy beer). Being a whisky guy too, I'd probably just invest more time/money in the Japanese whisky I already drink. But I would certainly track down all of the craft beers I could and try them.

  • There is a craft brewery scene here, but it's just too damn expensive. I've seen the beer you mentioned at a Whole Foods-type place near my apt, but if I remember correctly it was around $6 a bottle. It's probably more popular in the USA cuz it's CHEAPER.

  • Guest - Brian

    Oops. The beginning should have said:
    --Orion: the worst

  • Guest - Brian

    --Asahi, Kirin: crap
    --Suntory Premium Malts: a slight step above crap. Saw it for the first time in L.A. in September. $3.29 a bottle and worth about a quarter of that. Really disappointed.
    --Echigo: I thought it was supposed to be one of the better Japanese beers but it was pretty bland stuff.
    --Sapporo (U.S.): a little better. Drinkable. U.S. Sapporo has been proven to be dumbed down to appease our Bud/Coors/Miller crowd.
    --Yebisu: what I assume Sapporo in Japan is supposed to taste like. My mom brought some up when she visited over the summer and I have one bottle left. I have it only with sushi.
    --Asahi Kuronama Black Ale: For a black ale, it's pretty mild and too malty. But compared to regular Asahi, it's like nectar from the heavens. I brought a 6-pack with me in September.
    --anything from the Hitachino Nest brewery: If you haven't had any of their beer Dave, you're missing out. I think they actually may be more popular in the U.S. I can even get most of their options in Idaho, fer Chrissakes. When you look for beer, look for an owl on the bottle top. It's not like the mass-produced swill you tend to see.

    I've heard of a craft-brewery scene there, but you have to be on the lookout for it (i.e. not in regular grocery stores) and look for a bar that specializes in good beer.