In 1887, a brewery was opened in Tokyo, Japan. Specializing in German brewing methods, the Yebisu Beer Factory’s popularity began to grow – so much so, in fact, that they gave their name to the nearby train station, and soon to the surrounding district itself (though the name of both the train station and the district uses the spelling variation “Ebisu,” a more modern spelling of “Yebisu”). In 2007, on the brewing company’s 120th anniversary, a museum opened its doors on the site of the former factory. Exhibiting photos, vintage posters, beer paraphernalia, and vintage bottles dating back to the brewery’s 19th century beginnings, the Museum of Yebisu Beer traces the history and evolution of the company. Of course, the museum also includes a tasting room, in which visitors are invited to try various Yebisu beers.
Honoring the history of this beer includes understanding the ways in which it was a precursor to other beer companies. The Yebisu brewery’s use of German brewing methods, and more specifically of cool fermentation, was one such innovative decision. Cool fermentation occurs around 10°C (50°F), and is followed by a storage period of a few weeks, or even a few months. This process produces lagers, a beer type which has a hoppy and malt taste, and tends to be less fruity and alcoholic than other beers. The term “lager” comes from the German word lagern, meaning “to store.” The Yebisu lager was the first and most famous Japanese lager. Yebisu was also a forerunner in its packaging style, as they were the first brewery to use glass bottles.