Beer in Japan had its start in the 17th century during the Edo Period when the Dutch opened a beer hall for sailors working the trade route between Japan and the Dutch Empire. Japanese-style commercial brewing has been exported to much of southeast Asia and breweries are spread throughout the world.
Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in Japan, accounting for nearly two thirds of the 9 billion liters of alcohol consumed in 2006. During the late 19th century (the start of the Japanese Meiji period) brewers from Germany arrived.
Major brewers are Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory while small local breweries supply distinct tasting beers. Lager beers are most common but unfortunately "beers" made with lower grain contents called "Happoushu" (発泡酒, low malt beer, literally sparkling alcoholic drink) have captured a large part of the market as tax is lower on these products.