Overview >> “One must drink beer in summer.” That’s an idea many office workers share. While domestic beer consumption has declined, there are enthusiastic fans of beer who have eagerly awaited summer’s arrival. To them, beer is the ultimate incentive to get through a hot summer day and work hard despite the sweltering heat. As the Japanese economy faces the moment of truth, there is hope that the energy of beer enthusiasts will help boost the economy. This article offers a new look at the ways beer aficionados can enjoy their favorite beverage.
Beer Berry: A Myth or Truth >> As the term “beer belly” suggests, it is a general belief that beer makes one fat. In recent years, however, a theory has been advocated that partly refutes this logic. The new theory argues that beer drinkers tend to eat more fried food and other high-calorie appetizers that go with beer, resulting in a beer belly. Thus, the new thinking asserts that beer alone does not make one fat.
Certainly many agree that beer enhances the pleasure of eating fried foods and that excessive consumption can result. Some also suggest the popular habit of eating ramen noodles after a party or event such as an after-hours party. It seems we can’t deny the fact that beer and overeating go hand in hand.
Alcoholic Sodas Promote Appetite > > Why does beer promote appetite? First, soda water stimulates the stomach and activates its function. Also, the blood-sugar level drops as alcohol is broken down in our body, and a drop in blood sugar makes one eat more. For that reason, restaurants offer sparkling wine as an aperitif.
Beer, however, has by far the strongest effect of promoting appetite among sparkling alcoholic beverages. That’s because beer contains a substance called “N-methyl tyramine,” which induces the production of the hormone called gastrin. This substance promotes the release of gastric acid and makes us hungry. Consuming an excess amount of beer may be harmful to the body, but it is worthwhile drinking beer before a meal on a hot summer day when one would otherwise have no appetite, in order to stay healthy.
Beer Gardens in Tokyo > > Beer gardens have, in recent years, established themselves as popular destinations for women and young people. Behind their popularity is a trend of diversification among such beer gardens. For example, “Beer Garden Breeze & Greenery” in Tokyo Dome City (Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo) offers an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet package. You can also order a la carte, but a set menu is popular, including unlimited access to three kinds of beers, various shochu (distilled spirit) cocktails
Mr. Ikehata, the restaurant manager, also suggests a new way to enjoy the beer hall. “Since we’re located next to Tokyo Dome, many guests come here before and after sporting events. But it’s also fun to enjoy beer in the restaurant while watching baseball on our large-screen monitor,” he says. Those who have ordered an all-you-can-eat-and-drink course on the Internet can get a discount, and this program is very popular.
The “Mori no Naka no Beer Garden” (hosted by the beer restaurant Garden Island), located at the Tokyo Prince Hotel in Minato-ku, is an upscale beer garden for mature adults that’s known for its barbeque and beer garden services. Materials are sourced by the Tokyo Prince Hotel, and particularly expensive items such as wagyu fillet steak, abalone and spiny lobster are of exceptionally fine quality. The restaurant offers outside-the-box courses, which aren’t usually expected from a beer garden.
“Nowadays,” says Tokyo Prince Hotel General Manager Hisaaki Takei, “luxury-seeking customers are coming back and the numbers of such customers have increased. So, our key phrase is “little luxury.” Also, our hotel runs the Tokyo Honey Project, and this group is to support independent women and provide activities designed for them. As part of this project, the beer garden also offers packages/plans just for women.” The hotel’s strategy has been successful, as the beer restaurant is packed with women’s groups, couples, husbands and wives celebrating anniversaries, as well as others who want to spend time with someone special.
Besides the beer gardens featured in this article, Tokyo has a number of unique beer gardens/restaurants, such as “home-style” beer gardens offering house-brewed beers in open-air areas decorated like porches on which customers can recline, and beer halls offering limited selections of brands from overseas.
Why not try different beer gardens/restaurants to find your favorite one this year, and enjoy beer in moderation?