In 1987, Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings introduced a new beer into its portfolio that would change the business forever: Asahi Super Dry. But Asahi Beer’s history begins much further back than that. In fact, Asahi is more than a century old — and its beer is part of a global food and beverage group.
Headquartered in Sumida, Tokyo, Asahi Breweries, Ltd. produces many labels around the world. Here in the States, it has been widely distributed under the Asahi U.S. subsidiary since 1998. (Yes, there are a lot of subsidiaries under Asahi Group Holdings — which has landed the brand in some trouble over the years.)
Wondering where your Asahi comes from or what makes its beer “Super Dry?” Read on for 10 more things to know about Asahi Beer.
Asahi is a Japanese beer giant.
Asahi Breweries, Ltd. is part of Asahi Group Holdings, established in 1949. Asahi Group Holdings is a global conglomerate with more than 140 subsidiaries in the beverage alcohol, soft drink, and food businesses. Asahi products are available in four continents: North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.
Asahi Super Dry is Japan’s most popular beer.
In 1987, Super Dry was officially introduced to the Japanese public. With its launch, Asahi Group was able to leap past Kirin Brewery Co. as the market leader. More than 100 million cases have been sold every year since its release.
Asahi’s birthplace was the first brewery of its kind.
Asahi Breweries’ predecessor, Osaka Beer Company, was founded in 1889 with the purpose to produce a world-class beer for Japan. The company debuted its Suitamura Brewery, Japan’s first modern brewery, in 1891. Asahi Beer launched there the following year.
Asahi Beer launched 74 years before Asahi Breweries.
Although its roots trace to the late 1880s, and Asahi Beer debuted in 1892, the first official Asahi Breweries, Ltd. factory was established in Kashiwa, Japan in 1966. That’s when mass production of Asahi Beer began.
It’s all about “Karakuchi.”
Karakuchi is a Japanese culinary term that is translated to “pungent” or “mouth.” It doesn’t quite translate to English. However, in the context of Japanese sake, or alcohol, it means “spicy, salty, or dry.” Obviously, Asahi used the latter to describe its beer.
What is Super Dry, anyway?
Asahi Super Dry Beer is a Japanese rice lager. Like American lagers, these beers are made with rice and malted barley. The result is a light-colored beer with a light flavor profile. There is also higher carbonation present that calls for a drier finish.
Asahi is always innovating.
In 2021, Asahi Breweries announced a special “draft” version of its packaged Asahi Super Dry beer. The special feature of this draft version is that the can has a pull tab and is engineered to create a creamy head of foam atop the beer once opened. How does it work? The inside of the can is designed with tiny bumps to create more head on the beer, according to Asahi. According to Tokyo-based food and drink writer Akiko Katayama, the label was released in April 2021 to meet the needs of Japanese drinkers at home during Covid-19.
Super Dry is super versatile.
In May 2021, Asahi Group Holdings announced a new 25.4-ounce Asahi Super Dry can — more than double the size of its usual 11.2-ounce can This supersized variation of the famous label was a response to the demand for portable, convenient canned products, the company said.
Additional riffs currently available in the U.S. include Asahi Dry Black and Asahi Brewmaster’s Select. Other variations of Super Dry in Japan include an Instant Cold Dry, which is brewed with a hop variety called Polaris to emphasize its “cool” feel; Asahi Gokujo Kireaji, made with 100 percent barley; Asahi Style Free, a zero-carbohydrate happoshu; and Asahi Dry Zero, a non-alcoholic version.
Confused by its beer labels? You’re not alone…
Since 2004, Asahi Super Dry Beer has been brewed and bottled by Molson Coors Brewery in Vancouver, Canada. However, the labels on the beers produced here suggest that it is brewed and bottled in Japan. Further, the beer label features the Asahi name in English, yet, “Asahi Beer,” “Super Dry” and “Dry Taste” are all in Japanese Kanji characters.
…Asahi faced a lawsuit.
In April 2017, Alexander Panvini and Matin Shalikar filed a class-action lawsuit Asahi in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. They believed that Asahi’s beer labels were deceiving consumers on where it was brewed. They accused Asahi of being in violation of three California state laws: California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, and False Advertising Law.
The following June, Asahi filed a motion to dismiss the claims. But the court refused to do so, stating that the labels could mislead a consumer into believing the product was made in Japan. In 2019, the case was settled, with each class member who filed a proper claim allowed to receive a maximum $10 refund — about enough to cover another 6-pack.