Beer & Book Review: Craft Beer in Japan, English, Mark Meli, 2013

Unlike many of the books on my shelf I can tell you exactly where I was when I bought this book and I even had a chance encounter with the author, although at a separate location and time. I met the author Mark at Koyoto Brewing Company. He was one of the few westerners at the brewery and I remember we spoke about him being a professor at one of the schools in the area. The fact that he wrote a book about beer never came up. It was only later when I was at Antenna America in Yokohama, Japan did i recognize his picture on the back of the book in their beer book library. There is a Japanese and English version of this book. This is the only beer guide for Japan I have found written in english.

What I liked about the book: The beginning of the book opens with several pages of information about beer and brewing in Japan. This includes a section on the different styles of beer (pale ale, Pilsner, Belgium). There are better books to describe these styles but Mark gives how these styles tie in to Japan and the Japanese culture. There is a section on Japanese words that are related to craft beer and beer drinking. I do like that this book even exist. The problem with activities in Japan to include breweries is the lack of english books about the subject. From what I have found there are no other books that cover just Japanese breweries written in English. At the time of the writing it appears that the book covers nearly all of the commercial breweries and all the beers made by those breweries in Japan.

What I didn’t like about the book: It is the same thing I do not like about any of the beer guide books. As soon as the book is published it seems to be out of date. Case in point there is a section in the book where breweries that are expected to be licensed in the near future are listed. This included Okinawa Brewing Company in Yomitan Okinawa. Sadly this brewery closed just before we arrived in Japan due to the closures for COVID 19. Being almost ten years old this book is prime for a second edition.

Will it stay on my shelf: I am going to keep this book to serve as a reference for future beer tourism that we will do while living in Japan. While I mentioned before that it may be slightly dated the list of breweries and their write ups give me a starting point to start planning and research what breweries are in the area to visit.

Would I recommend this book for your library: If you are planning a trip to Japan or plan to move there this book is a great reference to guide you to the breweries in Japan.

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