Kirin vs Sapporo

Kirin Ichiban and Sapporo are two of the most popular Japanese beer brands that have gained a considerable following worldwide. These two brands are not only known for their unique taste but also for their rich history and brewing process.

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Kirin Ichiban and Sapporo have been around for over a century, with Kirin Ichiban being founded in 1885 and Sapporo in 1876. Both brands have a rich history and have undergone several transformations over the years. Today, they are among the largest beer producers in Japan and are exported to several countries worldwide.

When it comes to the taste and aroma of Kirin Ichiban and Sapporo, there are several factors to consider, including the ingredients used and the brewing process. Both brands use different ingredients, with Kirin Ichiban being 100% malt and Sapporo using rice in the brewing process.

The brewing process also differs, with Kirin Ichiban using a unique first-press method that extracts the purest part of the malt, while Sapporo uses a traditional German brewing method. These differences in ingredients and brewing process result in different taste and aroma profiles for each brand.

History of Kirin and Sapporo

Kirin and Sapporo are two of the largest beer producers in Japan, and both have a rich history dating back to the late 19th century.


Kirin Brewery was founded in 1885 by a group of Norwegian and Japanese businessmen. It started as the Japan Brewery Company, but was renamed Kirin Brewery Company in 1907. Kirin’s signature beer is the Kirin Ichiban, which is made from 100% malt and has a smooth, clean taste.

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Over the years, Kirin has expanded its operations to include not only beer, but also soft drinks, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. In 2009, Kirin Brewery acquired a 100% stake in the Australian brewer Lion Nathan, making it one of the largest beverage companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sapporo, on the other hand, is Japan’s oldest beer brand, founded in 1876 by Seibei Nakagawa. The company was originally called the Kaitakushi Brewery, and was located in the town of Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido. Sapporo’s signature beer is the Sapporo Premium, which is a crisp, refreshing lager that is popular both in Japan and abroad. In addition to beer, Sapporo also produces soft drinks, food products, and operates a chain of restaurants.

In the early 20th century, Kirin and Sapporo were two of the largest beer producers in Japan, along with Asahi and Suntory. However, after World War II, Kirin dominated the market with a 61% share between the mid-70s and up until 1985, while Sapporo was a distant second with its 20%-25% variable share. Asahi and Suntory also had a smaller market share. Asahi and Sapporo used to be one entity known as Dai Nippon Brewery.

In 1994, Kirin and Anheuser-Busch formed a strategic alliance, which allowed Kirin to distribute Budweiser in Japan, and Anheuser-Busch to distribute Kirin beer in the United States. This partnership has allowed both companies to expand their reach and increase their market share.

Today, Kirin and Sapporo remain two of the most popular and recognizable beer brands in Japan, and continue to produce high-quality and flavorful beers that are enjoyed by people around the world.

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Beer Types and Brands

When it comes to Japanese beer, there are several mainstream beer brands that are popular both in Japan and around the world. Some of the most well-known brands include Kirin Ichiban, Sapporo Premium, Asahi Super Dry, and Kirin Lager.


Kirin Ichiban is a popular Japanese beer brand that uses only the first press of the wort, giving it a smooth and crisp taste. It is a light and refreshing beer that is perfect for those who prefer a milder taste.

Sapporo Premium is another popular Japanese beer brand that is known for its clean and crisp taste. It is a light-bodied beer that is perfect for those who prefer a refreshing taste.

Asahi Super Dry is a popular Japanese beer brand that is known for its dry and crisp taste. It is a light-bodied beer that is perfect for those who prefer a milder taste.

Kirin Lager is a classic Japanese beer brand that is known for its smooth and refreshing taste. It is a light-bodied beer that is perfect for those who prefer a milder taste.

Ingredients and Brewing Process

Kirin Ichiban and Sapporo are both Japanese beers that have a unique taste, which sets them apart from other beers. The ingredients and brewing process play a significant role in determining the taste, aroma, and color of these beers.


Kirin Ichiban is made using 100% malted barley, which is carefully selected from the best barley fields in the world. It is then brewed using a unique process that involves using only the first press of the wort. This process results in a beer that has a smooth, rich flavor with a clean finish. Kirin Ichiban also uses hops, water, and yeast to create a well-balanced beer.

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Sapporo, on the other hand, uses a blend of quality ingredients, including malted barley, hops, rice, corn, and water. The use of rice in the brewing process gives Sapporo a cleaner, crisper taste than Kirin Ichiban. Sapporo also uses a unique yeast strain that is specially selected to create a beer with a light, refreshing taste.

Both Kirin Ichiban and Sapporo use high-quality ingredients in their brewing process, which contributes to the unique taste and aroma of these beers. The use of quality ingredients ensures that the beer is consistent in taste and aroma, which is important for beer enthusiasts who appreciate a well-crafted beer.

Taste and Aroma

When it comes to taste and aroma, Kirin Ichiban and Sapporo have their unique characteristics.


Kirin Ichiban is a light and refreshing lager with a dry finish. It has a subtle bitterness with a hint of citrus and honeyed notes. The beer also has a distinct umami taste, which is a savory flavor that is often associated with Japanese cuisine. The soft texture of Kirin Ichiban makes it a smooth and easy-to-drink beer.

On the other hand, Sapporo is a more grainy and floral beer. It has a crisp and clean taste with floral hop notes. The beer has a unique taste due to the use of rice in the brewing process. The aroma of Sapporo is more pronounced than Kirin Ichiban, with a distinct floral scent.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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