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Ishikawa Brewery Co., Ltd.,‡A

Century-Old Beer Caldron

Successive heads of the Ishikawa family have kept diaries of their activities. According to the diary of the 14th head, Chiyozo, they needed 5,050 yen (about 100 million yen in today's money) before starting to make beer.
The beer caldron in the photo at right is the one Ishikawa Brewery actually used in those days. However, after Ishikawa Brewery withdrew from the beer business, the caldron was brought to the home of relatives of the Ishikawa family, where it was treated carelessly and left buried up to its neck. After a long time, it looked like a mere pool in the yard. This benefited the caldron, because it was not confiscated during wartime, when all types of metal including even temple bells were collected to supply the war effort. Thus, the caldron survived the war. Now, it remains as a valuable historical article of Japan's beer brewing history.
Beer caldron used in 1887
Despite its great investment in the beer business, Ishikawa Brewery withdrew from the business after only about one year, and the brewing equipment was sold. This was partly because bottle crown caps had not yet been invented, and the bottles were easily broken and because of other negative factors. In those days, without good refrigeration methods, beer was only made during the winter season. Thus, the production of this German-style
lager beer ended very soon, leaving only the results of production amounting to a total of 54,000 liters during this one year.
In that period, it is said there were 100 to 150 beer breweries in Japan. Later, in the wake of the Boxer Rebellion (1900) in China, Japan began leaning towards militarism. In 1901, during the country's policy of increasing wealth and military power, a liquor tax was applied to beer. Small-scale breweries in the Meiji Period were forced to discontinue business one after another. Three years later, Japan entered into a war with Russia.



Ishikawa Brewery Co., Ltd.,

Ishikawa Brewery Co., Ltd., led by president Taro Ishikawa, the eighteenth head of the Ishikawa family, brews and sells "Tamajiman" Japanese sake. Besides Japanese sake, the company has been brewing a local beer, "Tama no Megumi," since 1998.
After the brewing deregulation in 1994, many companies in Japan were able to brew beer, and began brewing and selling beer. The year 1997 saw the establishment of the largest number of new breweries in a single year: over 100 new breweries appeared in Japan that year alone. Ishikawa Brewery entered the beer market the following year. By 1999, the number of microbreweries exceeded 300 against the backdrop of the increased popularity of local beers.
As they say, "History repeats itself," and Japan's local beers began enjoying popularity similar to back in the days of the Meiji Period (1868 - 1912). In those days, Ishikawa Brewery had also started brewing beer. This fact is demonstrated by historical materials, which are currently on display in the Ishikawa Brewery Historical Museum on the second floor of its Zougura building.
After Japan abolished its closed-door policy, beer arrived in Japan. In 1853, it is said that Komin Kawamoto, a doctor of Dutch medicine, test-brewed beer at his residence in Edo (present-day Tokyo) while consulting Dutch documents. This is believed to be the first time beer was brewed in Japan.
In 1870, after seventeen years of this test brewing, a Norwegian-American, William Copeland, established the Spring Valley Brewery in Yamate, Yokohama. This was Japan's first brewery, the predecessor of Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. Later, in 1876, Sapporo's Kaitakushi Brewery, the forerunner of Sapporo Breweries, Ltd., was founded. At this time, most of the beer consumed in Japan consisted of imported products. It was 1886 that domestic beer first surpassed foreign beer in amounts consumed and, in the following year of 1887, Ishikawa Brewery began making and selling beer under the brand of "Nihon-Bakushu" (or, "JAPAN BEER,").



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