59 Yebisu

Yebisu is a beer made by the Sapporo company with the goal of  making an authentic German beer.



The Yebisu Beer Brewery when it was first completed (//www.sapporobeer.jp/)

Yebisu was first made with German brew masters in 1890 using imported equipment from Germany (//www.sapporobeer.jp/) for the purpose to introduce authentic German Beer to the people of Japan without having to import it. Yebisu still follows the Bavarian Purity Law which was established in 1516, the longest running food safety law used today (//www.sapporobeer.jp/). The name Yebisu come from the Shinto God Ebisu (恵比須, 恵比寿, 夷, 戎) god of fishermen, good luck and working men considered one of the seven gods of luck (Ebisu (mythology) 2022).


Key Milestones

The Yebisu Beer label when it was first released (//www.sapporobeer.jp/)

The First Yebisu brewery was made in October 1889 in what is now Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo. By December of the same year, after importing the required equipment from Germany and also hiring several Baumeister (Brew masters) from Germany too, the brewery was ready for production. Yebisu quickly became popular among the people of Japan and many other smaller breweries starting popping up around Japan, but these didn’t last more then a few years while Yebisu was praised for its quality and it became a household name making imported beers less popular. As Yebisu became more popular around Japan, counterfeit products starting to come to the market a testament on how popular the beer was. (//www.sapporobeer.jp/).



Brewing Science and Industrialization

Emperor Meiji moving from Kyoto to Tokyo in late 1868, drawing by a French navy officer published in the Le Monde illustré

Unlike most of the world Japan entered the industrial revolution in 1868 out of necessity to remain an independent land, because at this time Japan was still divided into around 270 domains with their only leaders and military, so the Meiji government came to the conclusion that if they didn’t unite under a sole political power and making japan a modern state, or they risk becoming a colony under control of a greater powers, so many government officials set of to Europe and the United states to observe how they are industrialized. This lead to many foreign concepts and products to be imported into Japan, including beer, which was not made or available in Japan at the time (Atsushi, 2020).      



Beer Style

Yebisu is a lager, specifically a medium boiled Malt lager (//www.sapporobeer.jp/). Lagers is a type of beer are that are bottom-fermenting and fermented at a cooler temperatures for longer (7-10 days)  compared to ales which are top fermenting and ferment in warmer temperatures for less time (3-5 days). Lagers are primarily known as a German type of beer known for less alcohol then ales and are lighter and more thirst quenching.   



The WWI and WWII Era 

During World War 1, the war stayed away form Japan soil so the war didn’t effect them as much as the US or Europe, but with the the prohibition in the US, Japan saw an increase in brewing equipment sent from the States which lead to the formation of many rival breweries(Christie, 2019).

By the end of World War 2, Japan has implemented more regulations in the sale of beer, with price control, a minimum amount of beer manufactured to receive a license and the creation of Brewers Association of Japan as distribution control (Christie, 2019).


A view of the product on display at the expo
in 1900, Yebisu beer won gold at the Paris Exposition, which was a competition for beer involving over 30 countries making Yebisu famous in Europe, and 4 years later in 1904 they also won the grand prize at the  Louisiana Purchase Exposition, giving Yebisu fame in the United States as well (//www.sapporobeer.jp/).


Sapporo ad “Men keep quiet and drink Sapporo Beer.”
In the beginning Sapporo was thought to be a more feminine drink, but in the 1970s the main consumer of the beer was male, so Sapporo changed there marketing strategy and released the advertising campaign “Men keep quiet and drink Sapporo Beer”. The advertisements consisted of no dialogue, slogan, and logos, just music and the take line “men keep quiet and drink Sapporo Beer”, this campaign was very popular with the public became commonly talked about in communities (//www.sapporobeer.jp/).
Modern Era
In 2006, Yebisu and its parent company Sapporo Acquired Sleeman, a Canadian beer company ranked 3rd in the country with its reputation of premium beer with similar ideals ad Sapporo. This allowed them to push further into the North American market (//www.sapporobeer.jp/).



Atsushi, K. (2020, May 30). Japan’s Industrial Revolution. nippon.com. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.nippon.com/en/japan-topics/b06904/japan%E2%80%99s-industrial-revolution.html

Christie, J. (2019). Sapporo. Beer Through the Ages. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/gned1478/chapter/sapporo/

//www.sapporobeer.jp/. (n.d.). 1890 the emergence of Yebisu Beer: History: Sapporo Breweries. SAPPORO BREWERIES LIMITED. Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://www.sapporobeer.jp/english/company/history/1890.html

//www.sapporobeer.jp/. (n.d.). Yebisu: Sapporo Breweries Ltd.. サッポロビール株式会社. Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://www.sapporobeer.jp/yebisu/english/

(2022, January 25). Ebisu (mythology). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebisu_(mythology)


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Beer Through the Ages Copyright © by Jordanne Christie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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