Sunday, June 22, 2008

Japanese beer found!

I've written before about how frustrated I am with the utter lack of real Japanese beer in this country these days. It's a goddamn travesty, especially as sophisticated as Americans are getting lately when it comes to beer, with imports and craft beers accounting for almost all of the industry's growth. Nobody wants to drink what amounts to a Molson or Budweiser when they order a Japanese beer. Even at both trendy high-end places and rustic, authentic ramen shops, if you ask for a Kirin or Sapporo, you're gonna get something from Canada or California, not Japan. And no, it doesn't taste the same.

But wait! Behold:

What's this?!

Not only is that real Japanese beer, it's a brand that doesn't even exist in the United States. Impress your friends with your Japanophile status by drinking Yebisu! I never thought I'd see this stuff here, in any form, much less the real stuff.

Yebisu is Sapporo's "premium" beer in Japan. I think it's basically malt liquor - it's advertised as an "all malt" beer. (They don't actually have a product called "malt liquor" there that I've seen). But it doesn't taste like the malt liquor I've had here, so maybe it's not the same - it's lighter, and it tastes basically like beer. You can definitely taste the malt, though; it's like a maltier version of, say, Heineken. It's not bad, but it's not my favorite beer. It's just so rare to find real Japanese beer in the US anymore that I had to post it.

I found it at Shin Nippon-do in Roslyn. Their web site, such as it is, is here.

btw, if you haven't read my earlier posts on the subject, you may wonder why a Sapporo beer is being brewed in Tokyo. Well, Sapporo itself is brewed all over Japan these days, not just Sapporo. But Yebisu has always been brewed in Tokyo. The neighborhood of Ebisu is named after it! (The beer's name is pronounced "Ebisu" - the "Y" is silent.) See, in the days when Yebisu was first created, there was a big problem keeping beer cold as it was transported, and Sapporo beer from Sapporo just couldn't make the trip down south to Tokyo. So they created Yebisu for sale in the Tokyo region, using ingredients more commonly found there.

The one problem with this particular bottle of Yebisu? Yeah:

Talk about transport problems - $3.29 for a bottle of beer. Worth it? Nah. They're obviously tapping into the ex-pat homesickness factor. And yeah, it's nice to have a real taste of Japan, which is a rarity in the US these days. But I'd probably rather just drink a Brooklyn Lager ($6.99 for a six-pack) as my daily beer.

If I actually lived in Japan, though? Who knows!


  1. Anonymous9:40 AM

    I'm curious, did they have asahi, kirin, etc. at shin nippon do?

  2. Only the American/Canadian versions. Yebisu was the only actual Japanese beer they had.


About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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