Sapporo Beer is Hokkaido's ambassador to the world - one of Japan's beer mega-brands, along with Kirin and Asahi (and to a lesser degree, Suntory, which you rarely see outside of Japan).
|You have a point, snowman - why not spend an afternoon at the beer museum?|
|It's history and beer, all in one!|
|An old mash tun.|
|An restored stained glass window depicting Hokkaido-grown barley.|
|The tasting hall.|
The original brewmaster was trained in Germany, and thus helped set the course of East Asian beer for the next 150 years - Sapporo is a big part of why East Asian beer is almost exclusively based on German recipes, whereas the beers in India and Southeast Asia are typically British in origin.
While the displays are mostly in Japanese, there's enough there for a visitor with a tiny bit of Japanese to piece together a rough history of the company.
|Though there are a few more of these labels around than might be in good taste.|
Of course, this being a Japanese museum, there had to be some elements of it that were simply inexplicable. Here, it was the Wonka-meets-Santa's-Workshop quality of the models depicting the brewing process.
|I don't remember those other brewer tours having quite so many snowman-elves . . .|
This gallery also included a small exhibit on Space Barley, a special-edition Sapporo brew made from barley grown on the International Space Station in 2006.
At about $100 a six-pack at its initial debut, it was one of the world's most expensive beers - and the best anyone could say about it was that it tasted pretty much like Sapporo. That was the point, though - to show that grains could be grown in microgravity without compromising their usefulness in a variety of food production processes.
Of course, like all good brewery tours and/or beer museums should, our tour ended in the tasting room, where we could sample a range of Sapporo offerings.
|On the left is "Black Label," which is their main product (called "Premium," I think, in the US); the middle is "Classic," an old-fashioned light lager; the right is a hoppier pale lager from a small Sapporo brewery in northeastern Hokkaido.|
|The onion beer cheese round failed to cleanse the palate.|