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Beer tasters

Japanese drinkers ready for new brews

December 19, 1995
Web posted at: 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT)

May Lee From Correspondent May Lee Taste Test

TOKYO (CNN) -- The microbrewery craze still sweeping the United States is also bubbling over in Japan for the same reason -- fewer government regulations. Twelve Japanese microbreweries were represented recently at the first craft beer festival in Tokyo where Japanese beer-drinkers -- both men (83K AIFF sound or 83K WAV sound) and women (116K AIFF sound or 116K WAV sound) -- said they have a taste for something different. Brewers from Asia, Europe and the United States also were there.

Craft or microbrewed beer is produced in smaller quantities and often distributed in a smaller area than mass-produced beer, allowing beer-makers to experiment with different tastes.

Japanese companies that wanted to get into the beer business now have new incentive. "Our company (Yonekyu) produces ham and sausages, which go very well with beer. We wanted to make beer, too, but we couldn't because of regulation," businessman Kouiji Serizawa told CNN. "As soon as the laws were loosened, we opened our brewery."

Making new beer

Mitsuo Iwamoto, owner of a Tokyo pub called Sankt Gallen, didn't wait for deregulation. He's been serving four types of microbrewed beer for nearly two years. Three are imported from his successful main brewery, run by his eldest son in San Francisco. The fourth is brewed on the spot with the alcohol content low enough to slip pass old regulations. "People thought I was crazy," said Iwamoto. Now he's called a pioneer and his youngest son has become a microbrewer, himself. (572K QuickTime movie)

Nobuhisa Iwamoto

Nobuhisa Iwamoto recently made the pub's first beer under a new license -- the result of deregulation. The beer, called "Christmas and Happy New Year," is being produced on a small scale at present. "But this is just the beginning. We want to make it bigger and sell it to the world," Iwamoto said.

Microbrew fans worldwide have their beer glasses ready.

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