In the drinks world, Japan is often thought of as the land of sake, a traditional alcoholic drink made by fermenting rice, water, yeast and koji. But dig deeper, and the country reveals a culture of craft beer brewing that goes back 25 years; in the last two alone, over 300 breweries have been awarded licences in Japan.
Of course, for those who have made the trip to watch the Rugby World Cup, this may come as no surprise, with brewers working at full capacity to keep each of the 12 venues and expected 100,000 cups per match filled to the brim throughout the competition.
Regardless of the liquid, however, brewing is still considered a man’s domain in Japan. But one female brewer is changing this stereotype, with an award-winning beer that has paved the way for aspiring female brewers. Oshita Kaori, head of Minoh Beer in Osaka, runs a female-led brewery that for the past nine years has been winning silver and gold awards at the International Brewing Awards.
Kaori’s father, Oshita Masaji, was once the president of the company. Facing falling profits in Oshita’s liquor store, he decided that brewing and selling his own beer would cut costs and increase profits. While he applied for a brewers’ licence, his daughter Kaori travelled to Hiroshima to train as a brewer, studying for several months until the licence was granted and their warehouse was set up in 1997.
Seven years ago, however, her father was tragically killed in an accident, leaving Kaori and her three sisters to carry on the production of their beer. And since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, taking part in over 100 beer festivals every year, and flying the flag for female-led craft beer.