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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > trouble finding hops/yeast in Japan
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:32 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jibiru View Post
I brewed in the states for a few years, and it was only as hard as finding the local brew shop. Now i live way out in the boonies in Japan. After talking with the mayor of my town i found out that Japanse law prohibits brewing anything in home over 1% alcohol.
Also about that:

I haven't read the law, but here's an interesting tidbit from the above posted website:

日本国内では度数1%以上のアルコール飲料を造ることは税法上認められておりません

I strongly suspect that the law was designed to prevent the Japanese government from losing your tax money on beer/booze you would make and not purchase.

With that being said, a buddy of mine told me how a family...i believe it was...was fighting the law in court to brew sake. Their reasoning was it's a traditional craft and shouldn't be prohibited.

Another side note with that: It's my understanding that, while it's best to keep it on the DL, if you get caught brewing, nothing serious really happens. I heard of a gentleman a while back, Japanese, who entered into a foreign brewing competition and won. The competition was big and he made news in his hometown. Well, guess who heard about it and was waiting for him when he returned? Yup, govt. If I remember correctly they just said "As long as you know it's illegal..."

Now, I would imagine anyone who's a fool and tries to sell it could find themselves in quite a bit of trouble.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:37 PM   #12
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The fact that you can buy beer kits at some major stores in town and a few established online shops probably shows that the law is quite lax, especially for the private brewer who only brews for himself.

That said, I have noticed that Japanese brewers aren't taking any chances when they post their pictures online. They keep their names hidden.

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Old 06-06-2011, 07:08 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Beerzilla
The fact that you can buy beer kits at some major stores in town and a few established online shops probably shows that the law is quite lax, especially for the private brewer who only brews for himself.

That said, I have noticed that Japanese brewers aren't taking any chances when they post their pictures online. They keep their names hidden.
I was stationed in Japan a few years back. I would look at eBay, sellers will mail overseas for a cost...
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by King Elessar
http://www.amy.hi-ho.ne.jp/brew/

The guy's name is Aizawa (相澤), he's a good egg and runs a good shop.
That's the one! I've had a good scroll through his site many times but have stuck with sake land so far to get the brewing operation off the ground. Will give Aizawa san a try for my next purchase.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:12 AM   #15
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Both of those sites are great. I get all of my ingredients from them.
There is also a magazine called "The Japan Beer Times" that has info on craft beer in Japan.
http://japanbeertimes.com/
They don't have many articles about hombrew, because of the ambiguous legal situation I expect, but in their adds you can sometimes find yeast/hops/grain suppliers. In fact I think white labs or wyeast have an add in there every month with their Japanese URL.

Cheers.

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Old 08-22-2012, 03:33 AM   #16
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Not to steal this thread, but how is the commercial beer in Japan? I recently read an article about some good craft beers coming out of Japan. Just wondering.

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Old 08-22-2012, 04:16 AM   #17
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Well, things seem to be just taking off now. There are some "Brewfests" in Japan that are seeing more and more people every year. The magazine I linked above is also only about three years old. One problem is that in order to make "Beer" in Japan (and sell it) you need to have a brewery that can produce at least 60,000 liters a year. Which is a tall order for a small business. I think they do this because the Gov. is almost entirely controlled by the big corporations and they want to protect their profits, but whatever.
But as with most things here it all comes down to legal definitions. According to the Gov. only beer made with 67% or more malted barley counts as "Beer" . So if you use corn, rice, wheat, sugar, etc. you can make what we would call beer but is still not Beer.
They would call it "Happōshu".
However!! According to the Japanese Gov. Malt Extract is Not malt.
So if you make an all grain, take some of the wort, dry it, then add the water back when boiling you are ok.
If you want to start a happōshu brewery the minimum capacity required is like 6,000 liters (I have heard of people getting a licence with less but I'm not sure how yet).
So, once people started to realize that you could do this and get around a stupid law (only there to keep corporate profits up, and money flowing into politician's pockets) They started building craft breweries that only make 'happōshu' but rock out brews better than anything the big 4 are pumping out. And once they make a name for themselves and can ramp up production it is much easier to get the full 'Beer Brewery' licence.
So now we are starting to see smaller micros popping up and local beer starting to get into a new Japanese Renaissance.
I can personally recommend quite a few:
Baird Beer
Hitachino Nest
Kaze no Tani no Biru, or "Beer of the Valley of the Wind" (seriously)
Kinshachi Beer
Etc, etc.

In fact a friend of mine who does tours for Japanese language students is running a two day 'Brewery Tour' next month.
So things are looking up. Now all we need to do is get the stupid 1% law overturned and people can really start to learn about good beer here.

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Old 08-22-2012, 04:54 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherJack View Post
http://www.amy.hi-ho.ne.jp/brew/

The guy's name is Aizawa (相澤), he's a good egg and runs a good shop.
This is who I buy most of my stuff from. Great guy, and sets up home brew meets every so often. The last one was at a newly opened bar, The Watering Hole (in between Yoyogi and Shinjuku), that's in the process of getting their brewing license.

American hops are hard to find here though, so I have family and friends send me hops and yeast from the U.S.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwingert View Post
Not to steal this thread, but how is the commercial beer in Japan? I recently read an article about some good craft beers coming out of Japan. Just wondering.
There are a few good breweries but they are few and far between. Like colincbn said, Baird is real good, and their tap rooms are great. I also really like North Island and Otaru (both in Hokkaido, the northern island).

The scene is picking up quite a bit though; even some supermarkets are starting to carry small selections of craft beer. A convenience store chain, Natural Lawson, also has a few brands.

I just wish beers were as inexpensive as they are back in CA. A "normal" beer will run you over $2.50 EACH, with happoshu costing close to half. A Japanese craft brew costs about $5, and an imported craft beer like Green Flash or Stone costs $7.50. All ballpark figures. So for me, it is MUCH cheaper to home brew, even counting equipment costs!
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:23 AM   #19
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What styles do the craft brewers make?

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Old 08-23-2012, 01:01 AM   #20
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What styles do the craft brewers make?
I imagine pretty much everything that isn't too out there.
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