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Kirin's Harekaze: A Fresh Breeze in the Beer Market

Kirin's Harekaze beer, crafted with rare domestic hops, aims to rival its flagship brand Ichiban Shibori and tap into Japan's growing beer market.



President Hideki Horiguchi announces the new beer brand in Minato ward, Tokyo. (©Kyodo)

On April 2, Kirin Beer officially debuted its first new beer brand in 17 years, Harekaze. 

Utilizing rare hops from the Tohoku region, Kirin has crafted a richer, smoother brew. With a reduced bitterness, Harekaze will appeal even to younger demographics who are not regular beer drinkers. 

Kirin aims to establish the beer as a new cornerstone alongside its flagship brand, Ichiban Shibori. It also seeks to swiftly capitalize on the thriving beer market since 2023's tax reform sparked increased demand.

Crafting a Drink for Younger Generations

The brand name "Harekaze," which translates to "fresh breeze," was inspired by a desire to promote positivity. Its packaging, which boasts vibrant turquoise and gold colors, makes for a striking design. 

Kirin crafts the beer using 100% malt and aromatic "IBUKI" hops, followed by a heat treatment to preserve the flavor. By involving young employees in its development, Kirin prioritized drinkability to appeal to younger consumers who usually avoid beer's bitterness. This distinction sets it apart from Ichiban Shibori's characteristic bitterness and depth of flavor. 

Celebrities promote the new beer brand Harekaze on March 26 in Minato Ward, Tokyo. (©Sankei by Sachiko Murata)

Kirin's Next Premier Brand 

During the March 26 product launch event, President Hideki Horiguchi expressed his excitement. "We aim to make Harekaze our second flagship brand alongside Ichiban Shibori," he declared. "I hope we can establish it as the new standard for Kirin Beer." 

Retailing at approximately ¥225 JPY ($1.45 USD) for a 350-milliliter (around 320 oz) can, Harekaze falls within the same price range as Ichiban Shibori. The company has set an ambitious first-year target of roughly 4.3 million cases, each containing twenty 633-milliliter (603 oz) bottles.

Major Beer Brands Expand Product Lineup

Anticipating the beer market's expansion due to 2023's liquor tax reform, major beer companies are now developing new products. Following their flagship brands, they are introducing 350-milliliter canned beers priced around ¥220 ($1.42), commonly known as "standard-priced" beers.


Asahi Breweries re-released its Asahi Draft Beer in 2021 as a new flagship beer to rival its leading brand, Super Dry. In October 2023, it launched Dry Crystal, a low-alcohol beverage. 

Suntory introduced the zero-carbohydrate Perfect Suntory Beer in April 2021 and the more budget-friendly Suntory Draft Beer in April 2023. 

Sapporo Breweries stepped up competition in October 2023 with Sapporo Draft Beer Nanamaru, which contains 70% less carbohydrates and purines. 


(Read the article in Japanese)

Author: Sachiko Murata, The Sankei Shimbun