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  • Writer's picturePhillip Radcliffe

Hokkaido Craft Beer

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

(Japanese translation below)

By Miu Shouji

In Hokkaido, there are various brands of beer depending on the region. Experience the charm of beer along with the history of craft beer. Craft beer is likened to handicrafts and is beer made by small breweries.

In Japan, there is no clear standard or definition of craft beer, and it is considered a handicraft. For this reason, the image of beer that is carefully handcrafted by craftsmen and has a personality that is not found in mass-produced products has become popular. The revision of the Liquor Tax Law in 1994 brought about a major change in Japanese beer brewing.

At that time, the minimum brewing volume required to obtain a beer brewing license was drastically reduced from 2,000 kiloliters to 60 kiloliters. As a result, it became possible for small breweries to produce beer, which until then could only be done in large factories. Craft beer can be brewed in a smaller amount than regular beer, so you can be particular about ingredients, sub-ingredients, and brewing methods. There is a wide variety of products, including those from overseas, so it's fun to try and compare the ones that suit your tastes, new flavors, and breweries you like.

There are many craft beers in Hokkaido, but Otaru Beer is particularly recommended. There are mainly three types of Otaru Beer. First, “Otaru Beer Pilsner” is a beer that is characterized by a unique and refreshing feeling in the throat that bursts over time. It’s made with fresh aromatic hops and the traditional bottom-fermenting method invented in 1842 in Pilsen, the home of beer in the Czech Republic.

There is another beer called “Otaru Beer Donkel” with a long history. It is made with a traditional brewing method called double decoction, using plenty of caramel malt. Finally, “Otaru Beer Weiss” is characterized by increasing the ratio of wheat in the raw malt to over 50 percent. Top fermentation with homemade yeast creates a unique fruity aroma. Please try Otaru beer at least once!






北海道には沢山のクラフトビールがありますが、小樽ビールは特におすすめです。小樽ビールは、主に3種類に分かれています。まず、「小樽ビール ピルスナー」は、時間が経つとはじける独特な喉越しの爽快感が特徴のビールです。フレッシュなアロマホップを使い、1842年にチェコにあるビールの本場ピルゼンで発明された伝統的な下面発酵法で造られています。

もうひとつ、「小樽ビール ドンケル」という歴史のあるビールがあります。キャラメル麦芽をふんだんに使用し、二番煎じという伝統的な醸造法で造られています。最後に、「小樽ビール ヴァイス」は原料麦芽の小麦比率を50%以上に高めているのが特徴です。自家製酵母による上面発酵により、独特のフルーティーな香りが生まれます。ぜひ一度、小樽ビールをご賞味ください!


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