On a mid-winter night in Kyoto in 2009, I enjoyed homemade Tofu at Kiko, my favorite restaurant in Kyoto, just south of Shijo-dori between the Kamagawa River and Kawaramachi-dori behind the Hankyu Department Store, 30 meters south of the Murakami-Ju Japanese pickle store. Mr. Chino (pictured above), who I met for the first time that night, bought me an Asahi "Super Dry".
While sitting with friends from Tokyo Medical University in March of 2010, we shared a Kirin Ichiban.
While enjoying Okonomiyaki in the Gion (Geisha district) of Kyoto, we toasted Suntory during Obon in August of 2009.
Japan is home to many great sakes and beers. The big four beers are Sapporo, Asahi, Kirin, and Suntory.
In the US, most of our Japanese beers come from Canada or US breweries that make beer under license from the Japanese companies, but they pale in comparison to the fresh brews available in Japan.
My favorite Japanese Beer is Sapporo - it has a great hoppy character, a full body, and amazing texture.
Here's a brief history of Japanese beer.
My advice when enjoying beer with your Japanese friends. Due to a polymorphism in alcohol dehydrogenase many Japanese show the effects of alcohol early but tend to clear rapidly. Caucasians tend to show few effects of alcohol early but clear very slowly, meaning that your Japanese friends have much more drinking endurance than you do! Thus, like many things in life, moderation is your best bet to success while enjoying Japanese beer with friends. Kampai!