Posts Tagged ‘third-type beers’

Beer campaign stirs up the ire of working wives

Friday, October 15th, 2010

The nostalgic ad campaign for Suntory’s hugely popular drink Kin Mugi has proved a hit with middle-aged men who are pining for the simple charms of yesteryear. The campaign depicts a smiling wife played by actress Rei Dan who, while waiting for her husband to return home from work to down a few refreshing glasses of beer-like Kin Mugi, passes the time by enjoying fireworks, running through clouds of cherry blossoms and posing cutely in a yukata. Though men are lapping up the nostalgic picture of the carefree, stay-at-home cutie, some women of the same generation find the whole thing deeply offensive.

“Every time I watch that actress playing the wife wait for her husband to return from work with a big smile on her face, I get the sense that something’s deeply wrong with this picture. If I think about that carefree spoilt woman, I get really irritated. These days households that can survive on only a husband’s salary are in the minority,” a woman in her 40s wrote earlier in the year in Tokyo Shimbun newspaper. She’s not the only one, journalist Yuzumi Yamashita raised the issue again in an article written on Oct. 3 in News Post Seven. Yamashita writes that she’s heard the same opinion from other people and that economic realities these days mean that it’s typical for Japanese wives to take a job.

The (what seemed to be mostly male) response to the article on 2ch News ranged from the juvenile: “You’re just jealous,” to the more reasoned, “If women read young boy’s manga it seems odd to them, if men read young girl’s manga it seems odd to them. That’s all there is to it.”

Personally, I have to doubt a scenario in which men who are drinking cheap beer substitutes (called dai san in Japan) are able to afford the luxury of having a stay-at-home wife. What do you think? Does this advert raise your hackles or make you go all warm and fuzzy?

Major beer companies diet excessively while craft brewers beef up

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Rest your liver, say the big brewers. Low-alcohol beers and sugar-free beers are booming.

Rest your liver, say the big brewers. Low-alcohol beers and sugar-free beers are booming.

The big four Japanese beer companies – Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory – are in a constant turf war. Game theory keeps them intertwined in a fierce marketing dead heat, and the types of beer they release seem to be hamstrung by a monkey-see-monkey-do strategy and Japanese tax laws.

Over the past seven years, beer companies have produced cheaper and cheaper products by dancing around Japanese tax laws that define beer by barley content,  and politicians have continuously revised the regulations to combat deficits. Brewers first pushed happoshu, a low malt beer, through the tax loophole. Not surprisingly, the beer sold extremely well. Politicians modified laws in 2003 to tax happoshu, and brewers began to “third-type beers” such as Sapporo’s Draft One, which eschews all barley and uses fermentables from peas and corn instead. In 2006, politicians redefined these as “other fermented beverages” to bring them under tax laws.

As the law currently stands, 100% malt beer is taxed at ¥222 per liter, beverages with a barley content of 25-50% at ¥178, and those with less than 25% at ¥134.


Current-day Japanese “beer”: So much alcohol, so little barley.

Most of these beers have maintained the standard 5% alcohol by volume level, but recently companies have been experimenting with sugar-free beers, alcohol-free beers and beers with higher alcohol content. Kirin just released its strangely titled “Yasumu hi no Alc. 0.00%” (“0.00% for the days you rest”), and the advertisements encourage drinkers to “Please, rest your liver” with some Japanese punnery. The movement for sugar-free beers culminated finally in Asahi’s awful Strong Off – a 7% beer that mysteriously has 60% less sugar – and Suntory’s Relax, a sugar-free brew that boasts seven hops. These beers rely on novelty to help them sell, and the big brewers will continue to swap their mutant beer lineup in and out so their marketing campaigns can stay fresh.

Japanese craft beer companies and craft beer bars, on the other hand, are experiencing the opposite phenomenon: They are brewing more barley-heavy beers, and they are building a substantial audience of good beer fans.

While Japanese craft brewing has existed since 1994, when changes in laws reduced the minimum brewing volume required for a brewing license, only recently have Japanese brewers started pushing the envelope with extreme beers that make use of large quantities of barley and hops.

Continue reading about craft brewers in Japan →


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