This post took me in a different direction than originally intended. I started out thinking this was simply a case of a major brewer pretending to be a micro-brewer. The real story here is more about the interesting history of Kirin Beer, something I had forgotten.
On the grounds of its Yokohama Brewery, Kirin runs a microbrewery and restaurant called Spring Valley Brewery. Currently, there are seven varieties of beer on offer and the price per bottle averages 430 yen. These same beers are also available for sale on the internet. Getting this far, it looked to me that it was simply a case of one of the big guys muscling in on mom and pop microbrewery territory.
It is not quite that simple though. Spring Valley Brewery is actually the name of what Kirin calls the first brewery in Japan that was a business success. In 1869, William Copeland, a Norwegian-American brewer, made the shift from dairy to beer brewing and established Spring Valley Brewery in Yokohama. Copeland was at the forefront of employing what was then the new pasteurization technique. He also dug a 210 meter cave in the side of a hill in Yokohama in order to have a fixed temperature space for controlled beer maturation.
In 1885, with the help of famous Scottish trader Blake Thomas Glover, the business was sold to a group of Japanese investors which included the president of Mitsubishi. The new business, called The Japan Brewery, was founded and incorporated in Hong Kong. This was the forerunner of Kirin Brewery. Glover is buried in the Foreigner's Cemetery in Yokohama and his grave is maintained by Kirin.
So Spring Valley Brewery is a throwback to Kirin's roots, and the Copeland variety is named for the founder. Interesting history.
Key Words: Spring Valley Brewery, Kirin Beer, William Copeland ウィリアム・コープランド キリンビール スプリングバレーブルワリー
Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.