From Sapporo Classic to the Nikka, Savoring Hokkaido’s local beer, sake, wine or molt whisky is an exquisite experience.
Beer & Low-molt Beer
Sapporo Beer (サッポロビール) is king in Hokkaido and the local market leader. People love the Sapporo Classic, officially sold and served only in Hokkaido. At the supermarkets and convenience stores, beer is commonly sold in 350ml or 500ml can, or 633ml bottle.
Happo-shu (発泡酒: low-molt beer) and beer-like liqueur are cheaper than draft beer.
The world-famous sake (酒: also called o-sake or nihon-shu) is made from rice, koji (malted rice) and clear water. The alcoholic content is around 15% and a measure of sake is start from ichi-go (一合: 180ml). Traditional accommodation and izakaya serves ichi-go by tokkuri (徳利: ceramic sake bottle). Around 60% of sake brands are using local rice.
There are 12 sake breweries in Hokkaido and some places have souvenir shops, museums or tasting rooms. For local sake breweries, see Hokkaido Brewery Association website www.hokkaido-sake.or.jp.
Hokkaido’s Sake Brands & Locations
Wine & Umeshu
Hokkaido is a new wine-growing region, first brewed in 1960 from Ikeda. The bulk of wine production takes places in Tokachi, Furano, Sorachi and Hakodate. Umeshu (梅酒: plum wine), brewed at some wineries and sake breweries, is nonetheless worth tasting.
The Scottish-style Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery in Yoichi, founded in 1934, is home to Japanese malt whisky (モルトウイスキー). Highball (ハイボール: whisky and soda) is growing in popularity.
Hokkaido’s shochu (焼酎) is distilled spirit made from potato, beans, rice, sake-kasu (less from sake), wheat or corn. Several sake breweries making unique shochu. Kiyosato has a town-managed shochu distillery.