Small scale brewing at Kirin Kyoto mini-brewery and views on the future microbrewery business in Japan.

MBAA TQ vol. 32, no. 4, 1995, pp. 231-237. VIEW ARTICLE

Matsuzawa, K., Yoshimura, T., Nakahara, K., Takahashi, N. and Hashimoto, N.

The vigorous growth of the Japanese beer market since the mid 1980s has been maintained largely by the frequent development and launching of new beer brands, including many specialities in new or unusual styles. For reasons connected with the maintenance of a solid tax base (since the beer tax is a very important source of Japanese government revenue), brewing licences in Japan are granted only on condition that the brewery's annual output exceeds a specified figure, which has prevented the establishment of independent microbreweries such as have become common in some other countries. However, some companies have set up microbreweries within the grounds of their full sized breweries, which are counted as part of the main plant for licensing purposes and are used to produce small scale commercial brands as well as serving as pilot plants for research and development work. The "minibrewery" attached to the Kirin Brewery at Kyoto, which was completed in 1988, is described as a typical facility of this kind. In addition to its pilot and commercial production functions, it is used for training purposes and also serves as a tourist attraction, the upper floor of the building being so constructed as to enable visitors to view the processes and equipment on the lower floor without inconveniencing either themselves or the brewery, and is part of a wider public relations operation including a "Beer Park" with a bar and restaurant integrated into a museum of beer and brewing. In 1994, the minimum output required as a condition of holding a Japanese brewing licence was reduced from 20000 to 600 hl/year, and a few companies not previously involved in brewing began work on setting up small breweries, but at the time of writing it was thought that the establishment of large numbers of small breweries in Japan would not begin unless these pioneers prove to be more successful than anticipated, as the high cost of land, labour, etc., in Japan makes such enterprises less likely to be profitable than in other countries.
Keywords : brewery economics microbrewing prospect  


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