The director of Sapporo Beer Museum Tokufumi Sumiyoshi wants to pass the history of Japanese beer and industry of Hokkaido
The first land to brew real beer in Japan is Sapporo Hokkaido. 140 years passed after the establishment of the predecessor of Sapporo Beer “Kaitakushi (Hokkaido Development Commission) Brewery”. I went on a tour in “Sapporo Beer Museum”, where you can learn the history of beer in Japan, with the explanation by Tokufumi Sumiyoshi, the director of Sapporo Beer Museum.
The story of making beer in Japan, learn from the video played in Premium TheaterSapporo Beer Museum is the only beer museum in Japan. It’s renovated and re-opened in April 2016 to celebrate the 140th anniversary of Sapporo Beer’s establishment.
Adding to walking around freely in the museum, Premium Tour started with extra fee (50 minutes duration). In the Premium Tour, staff called “Brand Communicator” guides around the exhibit with explanations.
This time, I went around with the director of Sapporo Beer Museum Mr. Sumiyoshi.
The first spot of the tour was the waiting room on the third floor. The lounge, made from an image of a field before it's developed, is limited to the participants of Premium Tour.
▲Mr. Tokufumi Sumiyoshi, the vice-president of Sapporo Breweries Hokkaido Main Branch, and the director Sapporo Beer Museum. Born in Sapporo. Works at Sapporo Breweries for 31 years. He came to Hokkaido main branch in 2016 April. He was also the director of “Ebisu Beer Museum” when it opened.
It was 1869 when “Ezochi” changed the name to “Hokkaido” and Kaitakushi (Hokkaido Development Commission) was sent to Sapporo by the government. In 1876, “Kaitakushi Brewery” was established as the first private beer factory. This is the beginning of the history of Sapporo Beer.
“Why was private beer factory established in Sapporo? Who were involved? Let’s see the video to find out the answers”. I went to the “Premium Theater” with Mr. Sumiyoshi.
▲The Brand Communicator explains the start of the video.
The story is about two key people to build Kaitakushi Brewery. One video out of two will be played.
At first, the brewery was planned to be built in Tokyo. One person is Hisanari Murahashi, who changed the determination and made the brewery be constructed in Sapporo. The other person is the first brewer engineer in Japan Kiyobei Nakagawa, who studied about making beer in Germany.
▲The video is played in wide 6K. (Projected to the screen by three full high-definition projectors) Only the Premium Theater participants can watch the video.
Foreign-made beers were the mainstream at the beginning of Meiji era (mid 1800’s). There are a group of passionate people to produce delicious beer in Japan. The story of connection with Sapporo Beer’s star mark and the symbol of Hokkaido development “Polaris”. The historical drama played in the video was heart moving.
After the ten-minutes video, a surprise was waiting for us. What was it? Participate in the tour and find out.
When we walked out of the theater, a huge boiling pot appeared. The pot, used to boil wort during the process of making beer, was in the Sapporo factory and used from 1965 to 2003. The capacity is 85-kilo litters.
▲The wort boiling pot registered to the Important Technology Resource (Sponsored by National Museum of Nature and Science)
As I walked around, I felt quite a mood from the wall. The building of the museum is constructed with red bricks. It was first built as a sugar factory in 1890. Then it has been used as a malthouse from 1905.
▲Mr. Sumiyoshi says “the atmosphere is very nice on sunny days with lights from the windows.”
The history of Sapporo Beer and Hokkaido developmentSapporo Gallery is located on the 2nd floor, which introduces the history from Hokkaido development era to Sapporo Breweries today. The exhibits are very clear with twelve booths.
“Hokkaido was the best place to cultivate barley, the ingredient of beer, as wild hop were found. Including the weather, Hokkaido had qualifications to make beer. Kaitakushi started various businesses to develop industry in Hokkaido. Of all the business, only beer brewery is left until today.” Says Mr. Sumiyoshi.
“Kaitakushi (Hokkaido Development Commission) Brewery” re-started as a private enterprise in 1886, and after being through several changes, became Sapporo Breweries, Ltd. In the exhibition, old documents with conditions to become a private enterprise is displayed. The condition was “to use barley in Hokkaido as much as possible”.
“One of the objectives of beer brewery in Hokkaido is to develop farming in Hokkaido by cultivating barley and hops. Sapporo Breweries’ strong obsession to Hokkaido and growing ingredients by “co-contract cultivation” with farmers come from our continued thoughts from the foundation.”
I enjoyed the exhibition after learning about the birth story of national beer in the Premium Theater and Mr. Sumiyoshi’s explanations. And felt strong feelings of producing beer in Hokkaido and very moved by the fact that beer brewing is continued still today.
The signature brand of Sapporo Breweries “Sapporo Kuro Label”. The name of this product came from a nickname of the extremely popular beer “Sapporo Bin Nama”, which was named by customers. I finished walking around the exhibits as I listened to the episodes about Kuro Label and past posters.
▲The history of label designs of bottled beer.
▲The model women changing from kimono to dress. The posters reflect the history.
At the end of the Premium Tour, you can have a free tasting of “Fukkoku Sapporo-Sei Bakushu” (Reproduced Sapporo Beer) and “Kuro Label”.
▲Free tasting is at the Star Hall on the first floor. “Cheers!”
“Fukkoku Sapporo-Sei Bakushu” is made using the same recipe they used when “Kaitakushi (Hokkaido Development Commission) Brewery” was founded. The beer has some “muddiness” because they reproduced the classic procedure when they did not have technologies to filter yeast.
Those of you chose to walk freely can taste beers you like such as “Kuro Label” and Hokkaido limited beer “Sapporo Classic” from 200 yen per glass.
▲“Fukkoku Sapporo-Sei Bakushu” (on the right) is produced for Premium Tour and available at this museum only.
▲They also have non-alcoholic drinks. Hokkaido limited soda “Ribbon Napolin” is recommended.
Although it is not public, they let me into the room for honored guests specially. The Kaitakushi flag with a red star representing Polaris, and chairs which Meiji Emperor, Showa Emperor and Empress sat were displayed. The room had a profound atmosphere.
▲The room for honored guests is located at the top of the building. The room was used for roasting when the building was a malthouse.
Sapporo Breweries Ltd has past 140th anniversary. We are with Hokkaido foreverVisiting Sapporo Beer Museum is enjoyable to those of you who do not drink alcohol as well. Mr. Sumiyoshi told us about the museum.
“The museum is the place to pass the information that Sapporo Beer was born in Hokkaido, and the history of Hokkaido industry and Japanese beer, together with the history of Sapporo beer. To those of you who come from far away of course, but my wish is that people living in Sapporo and Hokkaido learn about the history of industries in Hokkaido from this museum.”
▲Mr. Sumiyoshi is telling us his thoughts.
The story continues to his thoughts about Hokkaido.
“Our business started from wills of two people who worked on making the first national beer in Sapporo, Hisanari Murahashi, and Kiyobei Nakagawa. The energy at that time is the origin and motive power of Sapporo Brewer. The reason we could continue our business for 140 years is the existence of customers and Hokkaido raised us. We would like to continue to develop with Hokkaido forever.” Mr. Sumiyoshi said strongly.
The northern land welcomed the summer. Visit Sapporo Beer Museum, learn about the history of beer, and have a toast with delicious beer.
Related Links- Sapporo Beer Museum
- Sapporo Holdings
- Sapporo Beer
Text / Hokkaido Likers writer Chiaki Uzurahashi
Photo / Hokkaido Likers photo writer Minako Takada