Craft Beer Club POPEYE Owner
< 01, Nov, 2013 >
Talking about Japanese microbrews, we cannot ignore Popeye the Craft Beer Pub which stands in Ryougoku, Tokyo. They always have 70 types of beer on the taps and Japanese craft beer lovers all see it as their holy ground. Well, I interviewed with Aoki Tatsuo the owner. We talked about how Japanese local beer's gone and the Popeye without haste below.
■ Hello, let me start now. Firstly, I'd like you to answer how you established Popeye and why you opened Popeye in Ryogoku.
Aoki Tatsuo: I established here in 1985 because I originally wanted to make my beer pub. At the time, Japanese pubs meant bars whose gals sit beside us, not like what lied in United Kingdom...
■ Absolutely differnt was it.
A: Right. So I started this Popeye as a Western Izakaya. I was unable to name it as a pub since pubs had to make misunderstanding that we owned some girls at the time. Rougoku... I had done some jobs until Popeye and there was the one in my connections, who said "Why not try in Ryougoku?"
■ It points there was a nice person for you, sir.
A: Several years from the time on, 1994, they revised Japanese Liquor Tax Law and removed the ban on microbrews. That made me think I got to realize my ideal pub. For my connections, I collected many kinds of Japanese local beer without labor.
■ There was nice karma, too. Well, did you feel satisfactory for your Popeye, sir?
A: No. we supplied some microbrews but most customers said "It is not beer!" Then, some of them finally had just Asahi Super Dry and went. They all thought there was only a kind of beer created by major beer companies and so, they hardly accepted other sorts as beer. Some mixed various kinds of local beer in a joke, it made me go mad and say "Go back!" Ha-ha.
■ Ha-ha, they made a mixture. That is casting pearls before swine. Then, Japanese seldom recognized microbrews although the government opened.
A: We mostly had to buy a local beer with three-fold price of a major beer product. Lately been cheaper. So the consumption boom has never happened at all. Although there were formerly 350 micro breweries in Japan, there are 150 - 160. We have seen some breweries that had brewed so nicely go to ruin... What influenced most? There are many whys like beer tax is too high. Above all, they have done their deregulation on retail stores by halves.
■ What does it mean?
A: ...To say simply, Japanese local breweries had to brew and sell all by themselves. They were unable to display their products at sake shops and at department stores because major companies pressed invisibly, you know.
■ Major companies has never wanted freeing of beer, you mean?
A: I heard they got refused since invisible pressure, when a local brewery tried to put their beers at a store. There are some categories of major beer companies, among izakaya bars and sake shops. The existing rights and interests make them do like that. There are some good copy about the tax, ha-ha.