The First Japanese Microbrewery (Sunday, February 1st, 2015)
ECHIGO BEER CO., LTD.
Although Japan’s beer market is not as big as the one in the U.S., the quality and craftsmanship of Japanese beer is well respected worldwide. As the U.S. is enjoying a craft beer boom today, Japan’s craft beer trend is growing steadfastly and some of Japan’s craft beer brands are available in the U.S. One of Japan’s major craft beer companies and its first beer microbrewery is ECHIGO BEER CO., LTD. Located in the heart of Niigata Prefecture, a region known for its quality rice and sake production, the brewery formerly produced sake for over a century. When the government reformed the liquor tax law in 1993, they established a beer production factory in order to put more unique types of beer into Japan’s beer market. In 1995, they finally launched their business.
Sake and beer are both alcohol brewed from grains, but the production process and required skills are different. Echigo Beer carried out trial-and-error to find the best flavor for each product. Not only producing Stout, Weizen, Ale and Pilsner, they invented unique, lager beer made from super premium, short-grain rice called Koshihikari. Using a time-consuming decoction method originated in Germany, Koshihikari Echigo Beer delivers sweetness from the rice variety to satisfy even non-dry beer drinkers. It contains 5% alcohol, and has a crisp, refreshing flavor, it flows exceptionally smoothly for superb drinking enjoyment. It goes well with all Japanese dishes, especially sushi. Koshihikari Echigo Beer comes in two styles, bottled and canned, which are both available in the U.S.
Other Echigo’s beer available in the U.S. includes Premium Red Ale and Echigo Stout. The former has a beautiful red color and is brewed using carefully selected Amarillo hops for a pungent citrus nose, a medium body and a noticeable bitterness. The latter, which won the Bronze award in the USA World Beer Cup, employs a longer brewing period to produce a mild flavor, pleasant aroma and fuller body.
Their batches of beer being exported are gradually growing. Long-standing yet still young, this microbrewery strives to improve the quality of their beer and expand further into the global market.
ECHIGO BEER CO., LTD.
2 Matsuyama, Nishikan-ku, Niigata City, Niigata
3 things you should know about ECHIGO BEER CO., LTD.
The Brewery Treasures Their Personnel
The brewery believes that the most important asset for them is human resources, both past and current. Most of the current brewers are locals from Niigata Prefecture, but in the past several overseas brewing professionals helped them develop Echigo Beer’s signature flavor. Based on this foundation, they strive to improve their beer day by day.
The First Microbrewery for Beer in Japan
The Japanese government reformed the liquor tax law in 1993, reducing the minimum amount of beer production from 2000 kiloliters to 60 kiloliters. Thanks to this, many breweries that produce small batches of beer burgeoned. Established in 1994, Echigo Beer is the first officially approved microbrewery for beer since the new liquor tax law. The company will mark its 20th anniversary in February, 2015.
Ever Growing Popularity in the Global Market
More than 10 years have passed since the brewery started exporting Koshihikari Echigo Beer abroad. This beer made from rice and malt is well received outside Japan, especially in the U.S. They also started shipping to countries like England and Thailand in 2013, and their business is still growing worldwide.