Readers of this column might have noticed that although many companies profiled have been in business more than 20 years, it can still be difficult to find their beers in stores.

On the other hand, Coedo, brewed in Saitama Prefecture, seems to have not only found its way into supermarkets and convenience stores around Japan, it exports roughly 30 percent of its beer to over a dozen countries in Asia, Europe and North America. By all accounts, Coedo is one of Japan's most successful craft brewers.

Like many early Japanese craft breweries, Coedo Brewery got its start as a venture by an older company only tangentially related to beer: Kyodoshoji Corp., a distributor for organic vegetables. While Japan's supermarkets are famed for uniform produce, those standards come at a cost, and around 40 percent of vegetables and fruit that don't meet standards are discarded. The company began to look into ways of utilizing produce that was perfectly edible, yet deemed unsuitable for sale.