According to an article in Nikkei Asian Review, Karuizawa-based Yo-Ho Brewing Company has agreed to sell a 30% stake to Kirin Beer, one of Japan’s four major brewing companies.
Yo-Ho will benefit from Kirin’s distribution network, while Kirin will gain from the ever-increasing sales by Yo-Ho, which is Japan’s largest craft beer maker.
Kirin’s business has been in dismal shape of late; the company has even been surpassed in sales by Suntory Holdings. On the other hand, Kirin’s main rival, Asahi Group Holdings, has made net profits 13 years in a row.
Yo-Ho will retain control of management and (we hope) of production processes as well.
Several craft beer makers in the US and Europe have sold part of their holdings to major brewing groups, and quality seems not to have suffered.
Yo-Ho produces several beers, including its flagship Yona Yona Pale Ale, Aooni (IPA), Tokyo Black Porter, and Suiyobi no Neko (Belgian White), most of which are widely available in convenience stores throughout Japan.
Some craft beer fans, including me, do feel that the overall quality of Yo-Ho’s beers has declined over the past couple of years. This could be due to control problems from expanded production or, more likely, from less care of the finished product during distribution and storage. How often have you spotted cases of beer sitting on the backs of trucks in the sun or stacked up in liquor store display windows?
We shall see if this new hook-up helps or hinders either or both companies.