Krafty Craft Beer

A Craft-Beer Pub Crawl in the ‘Kitchen of Japan’

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A Craft-Beer Pub Crawl in the ‘Kitchen of Japan’

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A Craft-Beer Pub Crawl in the ‘Kitchen of Japan’

For a long time, drinking beer in Japan meant implicitly supporting one of the country’s four major producers: Asahi, Kirin, Suntory and Sapporo. But in the mid-1990s, when a law prohibiting the operation of small-scale breweries was abandoned, the door was opened for Japanese craft beer, known as ji-biru. Even today, there are only about 200 craft breweries in Japan, so finding domestic microbrews takes some effort. (For comparison, the United States had nearly 2,500 craft breweries in operation as of June 2013, according to the Brewers Association.) But increasingly, the place to taste these relatively rare — but deliciously well-crafted — beers is Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city. “Osaka has long been called the kitchen of Japan. People like to go out and eat and party,” said Mark Meli, a professor at Kansai University in Osaka and author of “Craft Beer in Japan,” the first English-language guide to Japanese craft beer, published last year. Mr. Meli began working on the book, which is an indispensable guide for beer-lovers visiting Japan, five years ago. Then, you could count on one hand the number of bars serving domestic craft beers in Osaka. But in 2012, he said, “it really exploded.” Today, […]

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