Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Sapporo Beer and Genghis Khan

Museum Offers History and Beer
Sapporo Beer Museum visitors learn about brewing history in Japan while sampling the wares

The Sapporo Beer Museum: A Mecca For Japanese Beer Drinkers

Ever since man raised himself from his animal-like state of existence and achieved conscious rational awareness, he has used his thought process to devise various and illicit ways of removing this burden of consciousness and returning to his former state. One of the earliest relievers of this burden was the divine elixir known as beer. Beer brewing can be traced back over 6,000 years ago to the resourceful Sumerians. The Sumerians were so taken by this brew they dedicated hymns praising their gods for this divine drink. They even had a goddess of beer brewing.


Old Beer Bottles from the turn of the century

Beer came late to Japan — about 6,000 years later. The Japanese, however, were not slack in the “altering of consciousness through liquid means” department. They had been brewing their rice wine for countless generations before beer found its way over. Beer was first tentatively introduced to the Japanese during the nation’s seclusionary Edo Period (1615-1867) by Dutch traders. It did not catch hold at the time.


Geisha and Beer : the perfect combination

In the Meiji Period (1867-1912), Japan opened its borders to foreigners and allowed its own citizens to travel abroad. Seibei Nakagawa went to Germany where he earned a Beer Brewery Engineering License. With the discovery of hops in the northern island of Hokkaido, a beer brewery was planned with Nakagawa as its first brewmaster. In 1876, the first Sapporo Beer was sold in Japan.


A display showing that Sapporo Beer is apparently made by magical gnome-like creatures.

Over the following decades, beer drinking increased in popularity and became an established pastime. These days it’s hard to imagine a Japan without beer, as it has become so firmly entrenched into the Japanese lifestyle. What helped is the fact that a good percentage of Japanese food, from sushi to yaki-tori (chicken skewers), simply goes great with beer.


Commemorative Beer for the 1972 Winter Olympics which were held in Sapporo

The Sapporo Beer Museum in Sapporo is a good place for beer lovers to go to learn more about the history of beer brewing in Japan. The Museum has a collection of beer bottles and cans that date back to the late 19th Century. Visitors can also watch beer commercials that span several decades. There are two small bars where one can — for a small fee — sample the wares. Two of the beers — Kaitakushi and Sapporo Classic — are only available in Hokkaido.


Samples for the studious beer connoisseur

The taste of Sapporo beer, which its admirers harp on about, comes from unique hops that are only produced in certain areas around the world — areas known for their exceptional beers. Sapporo Brewery prides itself in its quality ingredients and the skill of its brewers. Sapporo beer can be seen as a delicious result of German brewing practices and Japanese attention to detail.

At first, visitors to the Sapporo Beer Museum may be a bit shocked to find a red star emblazoned on its building, and suddenly worry that Communist China has gained a foothold in the Hokkaido Island as a precursor to invasion of the mainland. The red star actually represents the North Star, which was the symbol of the early pioneers in the 19th Century. The red star logo was later changed to a gold star, no doubt to avoid any confusion that Sapporo Beer might be a communist brewski.


Genghis Khan: a sizzling plate-grill of lamb meat – ready for the conqueroring

Visitors shouldn’t try to get too involved in their study of Sapporo’s finest brew at the Museum’s bar, however. Attached to the museum is the Sapporo Beer Garten, where for just under 4,000 Yen a person can help themselves to all the beer they can drink for 100 minutes. Accompanying the beer are strips of lamb meat cooked on a grill at the customer’s table by the customer themselves. This dish is named after the famous Mongol conqueror: Genghis Khan. After 100 minutes of incessant beer guzzling and lamb chomping, the only kingdom you’ll be interested in sacking will be the one with the porcelain throne.


All’s Well in Magical Beerland

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February 23, 2007 - Posted by | alcohol, beer, Blogroll, drinking, Genghis Khan, hokkaido, japan, life, museum, sapporo, sapporo beer, travel

6 Comments »

  1. As you’re growing up as a teenager, there are a number of things that you look forward to; getting your drivers license,

    graduating from high school, going to your senior prom, having your first date and having your first beer. The problem

    with this last one is that the drinking age and the thing you want make it something that you just can’t have yet. And

    still, you want it and will go to any lengths to get it.

    Underage beer drinking is certainly no secret and to try to sweep it under the carpet isn’t going to make it go away. But

    the most odd thing about underage drinking when it comes to beer is that even after kids sneak their first beer, they

    still want to have another one. If you’re wondering why that sounds so strange then you need to think back to when YOU

    had your first beer. It was pretty nasty tasting. Let’s be honest, beer is bitter and is an acquired taste. Very few

    people, if any at all, enjoyed their first beer. Many even get sick after it because of the taste or the fact that

    they’re not used to the alcohol yet.

    Comment by make root beer | March 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. 4000 yen for all the beer I can drink? sign me up. I am a new fan of your site. please check mine out. http://bill411.wordpress.com

    Comment by bill411 | November 9, 2007 | Reply

  3. good one

    you are right it is acquired but goes well as chilled and with food

    alex

    Comment by alexander vergis | April 23, 2008 | Reply

  4. WHAT AN AMAZING STORY!

    Comment by Susan | August 21, 2008 | Reply

  5. they can add sapporo space beer now
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/space-barley-beer-from-sapporo-japan/

    Comment by akira | January 3, 2010 | Reply

  6. I’ve just bought a can of Sapporo beer from my local Tesco metro and it is not cheap at £2.90 a can (650ml) None of the ingredients were in English and I was worried it might be *Blonde beer*,which I do not like but I thought try it anyway.So I am now going to open the rather nice,sturdy looking can…………mmmmmm not bad actually,a subtle taste,a hint of smoky tanginess thats clean on the palate leaving you want to drink more too try to pinpoint its flavour.All in all a very nice beer,although whether I would pay out more money than my usual beer,i don’t think so.I would buy for special occasions though like champagne.The niggle.Price.Goodbye all.

    Comment by mark squires | February 25, 2013 | Reply


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