The article headlined “Beer essentials” that appeared in the June 5 issue stated that “lager-style beer originated in Germany” and that “Japan imported German ingredients.” These statements are not quite accurate.

I do not doubt a strong German influence on the Japanese beer industry, but there is also a strong Czech footprint in the history, technology and ingredients of Japanese beer, as well as the same claim for the invention of lager beer.

Saying that “lager-style beer originated in Germany” is not possible, as it is not true. Lager does not have one country of origin.

It came into being during the 17th century (when it was brewed only seasonably) somewhere in Bavaria (Germany did not exist yet), Czech lands (Czech Republic) and Austria.

There were many different lager varieties, as there are today. Among them stands out the Czech lager, which originated in 1842 at the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, which was the first pilsner-type beer ever. Pilsner Urquell beer created the category of pilsner-type beer, named after the Czech original.

Regarding the ingredients, the Czech Republic produces one of the most unique varieties of hops, Saaz hops, which have been imported to Japan for more than 100 years. Due to the specific taste, they became an important ingredient in the majority of Japanese premium beers.

This is a very traditional, unmodified, aromatic and rare variety, appreciated by Japanese brewers, as Japan is the biggest importer of Saaz hops. Because of the unique taste they provide, they can’t be compared with other European low-cost ingredients.

It is my sincere hope that the facts will be set straight and the Czech Republic will be given the credit it deserves.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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