Posted by: Darrell | August 30, 2008

The Beer Review

The six beers being reviewed

The six beers being reviewed

In Japan, there are four major beer companies: Asahi, Sapporo, Kirin and Suntory. We do have a limited selection of Asahi, Sapporo and Kirin in Canada, however, I have never seen Suntory. There are also generally two types of Beers: regular beer and happoshu, which is less than 60% hops to avoid certain liquor taxes making it cheaper for the consumer. In this selection of beers for review, there are two happoshu and four regular beers.

The beers up for review are (as ordered in the picture from right to left):
1. Asahi Prime Time
2. Sapporo Beer
3. Suntory Malts Beer
4. Kirin The Gold Beer
5. Asahi Red Label Draft (Happoshu)
6. Asahi Gubin (Happoshu)

The Asha Prime Time is a premium beer costing slightly more than most other beers, but still around $2.00+ per can. The taste is quite strong and robust. I can’t say I would consistently buy this beer due to the high price point; however, it’s not a bad beer.

The Sapporo is an easy going beer that is pretty popular and fairly priced. In a choice between Asahi Super Dry and Sapporo, I would still take the Asahi. If there were no Asahi or Suntory, then I would probably buy the Sapporo.

The Suntory Malts beer has become one of my beers of choice in Japan. It is decently priced and great tasting. One point of note, all bars in Japan usually offer only one type (brand) of beer as they usually have an exclusive contract with only one company. So you are always forced to drink whatever is served at the place. Suntory is a major company in Japan; however, it is rare to find their beers internationally. Both the Malts beer and the Premium Malts beer are excellent.

The Kirin Gold is definitely the worst beer in this selection sample. It has a weird taste that just doesn’t feel right. Overall, I would probably not buy another Kirin in Japan. Honeslty, it isn’t that bad, it just isn’t all that good. When there are so many better beers, why settle for less?

Various kinds of Asahi beer

Various kinds of Asahi beer

The Asahi Red Label happoshu is one of the cheaper beers. Don’t get me wrong the happoshu tastes exactly like beer just less fizz so there isn’t as much head when you pour into a glass. The Red Label is pretty good, but compared to the Gubin, I like the Gubin so much better. The taste is very light and easy to drink which makes the happoshu all the more appealing.

The Asahi Gubin is a great happoshu. Ben mentioned that this used to be his favourite beer and I can see why. It is a great tasting beer and incredibly cheap, somewhere around a $1.00 per can. Also note that bottled beer are almost non-existent in Japan, except in the very large bottles. Also all beer is always offered in large and regular sized cans and some are even offered in the mini cans.

The beers in Japan are always very colourful and I will continuously provide a running commentary on the beers that I drink. Drinking in Japan is a way of life and often referred to as “nomucation” (nomu – drink in Japanese, ‘cation – short for communication). Drinking usually allows people to get to know one another a lot better and you can usually find almost everyone going for some forms of drinks. Although, I haven’t really tried out the Sake yet. So in the mean time, Cheers!



  1. less than 60% hops to avoid liquor tax… genius.

  2. Let me correct you a bit there, son.

    It’s Asahi Gubinama, and it’s “nomunication.” Other than that, great commentary, haha. I need a beer right now.

  3. Nice work! Come check us out at

    We are a few gaijin living here and reviewing all types of beer, focusing on micro brews and great bars for gaijin. I’ll be watching your blog!

  4. I have come to really love Asahi Super Dry!

    I know Asahi is trying to get their name more known in the United States and set themselves apart from the usual “Sushi Beers.”

    What is your thoughts?

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