Thursday, February 20, 2020

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Beering in Mind YouTube Channel Beer Review #155 -- Sapporo Yebisu Shizuku

Sapporo Yebisu Shizuku is a slightly richer and more full-bodied version of the regular Yebisu. It's fairly limited, so get to your local 7-11 (in Japan) to catch it before it disappears.

Click HERE for my YouTube review.

Summing Up: New Beers from the Japanese Major Brewing Companies in 2019 /日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2019: 結語

Over the past four posts, I reviewed the majority of new beers brought out by the four major Japanese breweries in 2019. If you like, have a look at the posts for Asahi (HERE), Kirin, (HERE), Sapporo (HERE), and Suntory (HERE).

The four major Japanese brewers produced 46 different beers, down by 10 from 2018 (and by 20 from 2017).

They made 13 different styles of beer, five fewer than the 18 styles produced the year before (and nine fewer than the 22 styles made in 2017).

The most common style (26 / 56%) was, of course, pale lager, with Asahi producing eight, Kirin three, Sapporo 10, and Suntory five

The second-most popular style (6%) was pilsner, with three, all made by Sapporo.

The third-most popular style, at two each, were Pale Ale, IPA, Blonde/Golden Ale, Apple Cider, Helles/Dortmunder, and Imperial Pilsner.

The biggest surprise is that Kirin came out with only six new beers (compared to 13 in 2018). 

Asahi and Suntory were also down, with only 14 new beers (18 in 2018) and nine new beers (14 in 2018), respectively. 

Only Sapporo increased their number, with 17 new beers (compared to 11 in 2018).

Judging from RateBeer average rating scores and my own ratings (both out of a possible top score of 5.0), admittedly a limited sample, for all 46 new beers, it seems that Kirin produced somewhat more interesting and tastier beers, with Sapporo and Suntory not too far behind, than did Asahi or Kirin…. and with Asahi trailing quite a bit on both accounts.

Asahi:  14 new beers

RateBeer Avg. 2.73    My Avg. 2.35

Kirin:  6 new beers

RateBeer Avg. 2.89    My Avg. 2.86

Sapporo: 14 new beers

RateBeer Avg. 2.88    My Avg. 2.75

Suntory:  9 new beers

RateBeer Avg. 2.88     My Avg. 2.82

Asahi is making weak efforts in cheapest happoshu (low-malt) and “new genre” (no malt / fortified) styles, including their several new beers in the Asahi Clear series and a new “crafty” line called Asahi Craft Style. 

Kirin’s Grand Kirin series, which usually has a few nice new styles each year, was represented by a single disappointing brew: Grand Kirin Orange IPA. 

Sapporo was all over the place, with four new premium Yebisu beers and an equal number of low-malt or no-malt brews in their Mugi to Hoppu line

To my mind, Suntory’s Premium Malt’s line continues to be the best series of major brewery premium lagers made in Japan (especially the four beers in the Master’s Dream series, which can be considered ultra-premium).

The Japanese beer market has been declining for years, and the Japanese companies are looking for growth overseas. Three of the big four breweries have been purchasing breweries outside of Japan. 

In November of last year, Kirin (through its subsidiary, Lion Little World Beverages) bought New Belgium Brewing, which is/was the fourth-largest craft brewer in the United States. 

Kirin also has a stake in Brooklyn Brewery and bought acclaimed Fourpure Brewing Co. in 2018. 

Sapporo bought Anchor Brewing Co., an iconic brewery credited with sparking the American craft beer scene in the 1970s. 

Asahi has purchased a number of larger international breweries in Eastern Europe and Australia.