In 1869, New Meiji government set about developing Hokkaido, establishing a Kaitakushi (the national government Hokkaido Development Commission). Thereafter, many businesses were developed on this northern Japanese island. One of them did beer brewing. Climate and soil in Hokkaido were indeed appropriate for growing barley and hop and it was the most suitable area to find blocks of ice for low-temperature fermentation. Seibei Nakagawa, who had recently returned from Germany where he studied the art of beer making, was chosen as brewmaster to oversee construction of a beer factory. That September, the Kaitakushi Brewery was completed. The following year, Sapporo Lager was born and named after the birth place of the city Sapporo. On the same year, the first shipment was made to Tokyo. The ship proudly carried a flag of the Kaitakushi whose symbol was the North Star. And from then on, the star became the symbol of today's Sapporo Breweries representing its pioneering spirit.
In 1886, with the establishment of the Hokkaido government, the Sapporo Brewery Factory, as it was renamed, was sold to a private company, Okura Trading Company. In December the following year, a group of entrepreneurs led by Eiichi Shibusawa, one of the most famous Japanese industrialists of all time, bought the factory from the Okura Trading Company, and established Sapporo Beer Company, laying the foundation for major growth in beer brewing in Japan. In September 1887, the Japan Beer Brewery Company was established in Tokyo by a group of local entrepreneurs. After a brewmaster from Germany came, the company began selling super premium brand "Yebisu Beer" in February 1890, marking another milestone in our history.
At one time, there were several dozen breweries spread across Japan. In 1897, four companies, Sapporo, Japan, and two others, were embroiled in a fierce battle for market share. In 1906, the Japan Beer Brewery Company, merged three companies including Sapporo and Japan breweries to form DaiNippon Beer Company Ltd. covering 70% of the Japanese beer market. Throughout Taisho period, and into Showa period, beer demand grew. During a time of massive economic growth in Japan, DaiNippon Beer Company Ltd. played a major role in the industry in improving brewing techniques and using natural ingredients.
In September 1949, the DaiNippon Beer Company Ltd. was divided into two companies due to application of the Law for Elimination of Excessive Concentration of Economic Power. One of them, Nippon Breweries Ltd. started its business by introducing a new brand name, Nippion Beer. Notwithstanding, as beer lovers clamored for Sapporo Beer, in 1956, answering those calls, Sapporo Beer was relocated in its birthplace, Hokkaido, once again distributed throughout Japan. Finally in January 1964, Nippon Breweries, Ltd. changed its name to Sapporo Breweries, Ltd.
In December 1971, Yebisu Beer, the main super premium brand of the DaiNippon Beer Company Ltd., was relaunched after a 28-year hiatus. Our group of beer technicians worked on brewing 100% barley beer. This was the first German-type 100% barley beer to be sold in Japan after World War II. Yebisu Beer, which was then recognized as super premium beer brand proved extremely popular thanks to its superb quality.
* Yebisu Beer is a super premium beer brand yet to be sold in overseas.
To answer the strong call of beer lovers for a high-quality draft beer that they could enjoy at home, our beer technicians invested many hours of research to come up with technology that allowed draft beer to be bottled in its freshly brewed state. In 1977, this work completed and we succeeded in launching of Sapporo [Bottled Draft Beer]. The high appreciation of customers toward this product was the basis of new born brand. And until today it is still popular with the curved slogan on can package "Bottled draft beer". Subsequently, the beloved signature black label that graced the bottle was adopted as the name for a new product, Black Label. Today, Black Label enjoys the same popularity as it did when it was first born.
Sapporo Breweries' pioneering spirit arose from the Kaitakushi Brewery 130 years ago and has since been passed down to Sapporo's product development. In 2004, Sapporo Breweries started to market the low-alcohol beverage Draft One as a nationwide hot-selling product. Taking advantage of its all-new pea protein ingredient and an original production method, Draft One has an unprecedented clear taste and has created a "new alcohol drinking culture". The Company also entered the shochu market in April 2006. We are always introducing and developing new products to meet the various needs of consumers.
In 2006, a barley "Haruna Nijo" specially developed by Sapporo Breweries was selected as a sample seed for a space experiment. After its departure to space for a 5-month storage of "Haruna Nijo" in the International Space Station, the success of germination and growth from the part of the seed drew the world's attention.
In January 2009, "Chocolat Brewery (Bitter)," chocolate liquor made from beer mixed with chocolate malt and cacao nibs was sold on the Internet for a limited time in collaboration with a chocolate manufacturer in Hokkaido "Royce' Confect." It was sold out in 5 days from its release and received a high evaluation.
There is a growing demand from consumers for healthy, safe and satisfying products from year to year. None of these demands can be met without high-quality ingredients, reliable growers and advanced management systems. Beer is mainly made from barley and hops. The quality of ingredients directly affects the taste of beer. Since its establishment, Sapporo Breweries has been storing up unique technical know-how and pursuing finer ingredients and quality. In the 1970s, hop-yards in the Czech Republic were in critical condition due to a virus, but Sapporo Breweries' virus-free hops eased the crisis. "Haruna Nijo" Barley which has been developed by Sapporo Breweries and described as "Miracle Barley," is still used as the world's highest-grade mother plant in the next 20 years. Our products focus on a variety of world-class technologies and expertise that has long accumulated throughout our history. Furthermore, Sapporo Breweries completed the "Collaborative Contract Farming System" for barley and hops in early 2006. Sapporo Breweries' experts with ingredients called "Field Men" tackle the project by directly visiting production farms around the world and growing barley and hop in collaboration with farmers from the farming process in order to provide our customers "good taste" as well as "safety and satisfaction." By selecting fields carefully and utilizing only safe and high-quality ingredients, Sapporo Breweries pursues to make more satisfying beer. Our distinctive approach towards our products continues to please consumers.