The 2016 World Beer Cup winners were announced on May 6, and nine Japanese breweries won awards.
The WBC, which calls itself "the most prestigious beer competition in the world," and may very well be, has been held every two years since 1996. The awards were given out on the last day of the Brewers Association Craft Brewers Conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
This year’s event was the largest ever: 6,596 beers were entered by 1,907 breweries in 55 countries. A total of 16 countries’ breweries received medals. 44 Japanese breweries sent 135 entries and won nine awards, for a 6.67% success rate.
Here they are:
Gold - Nine-Tailed Fox
Nasu Kohgen Beer Co. Aged Beer (40 entries)
Gold - Arima Japan Ale
Konishi Brewing Co. Experimental Beer (86 entries)
Gold - Sakura Mankai Lager
Chateau Kamiya Ushiku Brewery Herb and Spice Beer (129 entries)
Gold - Arch Devil Imperial Stout
DevilCraft British-Style Imperial Stout (53entries)
Gold - Minoh Beer Stout
A·J·I Beer Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout (42 entries)
Silver - Asahi The Dream
Asahi Breweries Light Lager (45 entries)
Silver - IPA 2016
Yo-Ho Brewing Co. American-Style Strong Pale Ale (118 entries)
Bronze - Iwate Kura Beer Oyster Stout
Iwate Kura Beer Experimental Beer (86 entries)
Bronze - Golden Dragon
Ise Kadoya Brewery Session Beer (34 entries)
This tally is a big uptick from the 2014 competition, from which Japan reaped only three medals.
Compared to four in 2012
and five in 2010
nine in 2008
ten in 2006
five in 2004
two in 2002,
fourteen in 2000
nine in 1998
and one in the inaugural year of 1996.
A number of beer writers took note of Japan’s increased presence on the award stand, one of whom called it “Perhaps the event’s most compelling story...” Perhaps…. there weren’t so many other compelling stories? Another writer claimed Japan is “an up-and-coming beer market…” Those familiar with Japan’s demographics and the long-term decline in alcohol consumption might beg to differ.
In any event, craft beer drinkers in Japan should seek out those medal-winning brews and try a little judging for themselves -- with the exception of Asahi The Dream (nothing special there) and Nasu Kohgen’s Nine-Tailed Fox (you’ll never find it – except maybe at Popeye in Tokyo).