Combined shipments of beer and “happoshu” by the nation’s five major brewers increased 9 percent in July from a year earlier, the first rise in seven months, helped by this summer’s heat wave, according to reports by the brewers released Wednesday.

Shipments of beer were particularly brisk, registering a 10.4 percent surge, the first double-digit growth since January 1998.

The data cover shipments by Kirin Brewery Co., Asahi Breweries Ltd., Sapporo Breweries Ltd., Suntory Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd.

“Demand for beer has been eaten away by that for happoshu for some time now, but signs of a reversal to the trend became more visible lately,” an official at Asahi Breweries said.

The combined shipments of beer and happoshu came to 53.91 million cases. One case holds 12.66 liters, or the equivalent of 20 633-ml bottles.

Beer shipments totaled 34.95 million cases, while shipments of happoshu totaled 18.95 million cases, up 6.4 percent from a year earlier.

Happoshu demand was affected somewhat by beerlike sparkling alcoholic beverages, new products the brewers introduced this year, the brewers said.

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