Over here in Europe we don’t usually give much creedence to beers from outside the continent. Other parts of the world may brew their own beers, we think, but even if they do, ours our better. Well maybe they’re better or maybe they’re not, but if you take that attitude you’re going to miss out on some great, traditional brews.
With that in mind, any visit to Japan is not complete without sampling Asahi beer. In fact you don’t need to go to Japan, for years now this refreshing brew has been available pretty much everywhere in the developed world. Asahi Breweries Ltd is the current name for what is a very old establishment. It began life in 1892 as the Osaka Brewing Company and it was an almost instant hit. By the end of the century it had won the Grand Prix at the Paris World Expo (so much for Japanese insularity) and by 1906 it had merged with the Japan Brewing Company and the Sapporo Brewing Company to become Dainippon Beer Company Ltd. That lasted until 1949 when Dainippon was split into the Sapporo Brewery and Asahi.
That’s where we are today and over the years the brewery has broken new ground in Japan. Innovations such as the first canned beer (1958) followed by the first aluminium canned beer (1971) were both Asahi’s.
Let’s check out the beers then and this is not a company that believes in producing different beers for the sake of it. The two brews are as follows:
- Asahi Super Dry – the subtle taste of Super Dry has made it Japan’s most popular beer and ensured it’s popularity in more than 50 countries around the world. It’s relatively high 5% abv has ensured a loyal European following while it’s lager-like taste means it’s the U.K’s best selling Japanese beer.
- Asahi Black – while Asahi Black may be the colour of an English bitter, the taste and the brewing method are completely different, Asahi Black’s sweet, rich flavour and 5% abv mean it’s unlike most other beers from this region (or any other). It’s not as widely available outside Japan as Super Dry is but hopefully it will be soon.