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The Perfect Beer for Japanese Powder Day Dreams Ain’t Some Fancy Craft Lager

Can’t go to Japan this winter? Might as well drink one of the country’s most iconic beers during après instead.

Whether they are in Niseko or Hakuba, skiers are never too far from a refreshing Sapporo beer when in Japan. In fact, even when the 7-11 on the corner is just too far away, numerous hotels have vending machines full of Sapporo brews, including Sapporo Classic for the lucky skiers in Hokkaido.

The problem is that most powder-hungry North American skiers are nowhere near Japan right now, and most of the country’s signature deep, creamy snow won’t get skied by foreigners until next season. To add insult to injury, it seemed like skiers in North America might never ski powder again while the resorts of Hokkaido and Honshu were getting absolutely pounded a few weeks ago.

But now that fresh snow has returned to most of the USA and Canada—looking at you, California—there is a chance, if you close your eyes over a homemade bowl of ramen and a Sapporo Premium after a powder day, you can almost feel like you’re in Japan. (OK, maybe you’ll need more than one Sapporo to help with this fantasy, but don’t overdo it.)

Related: Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Niseko

"Sapporo Beer Garden"
There’s nothing like getting a Sapporo in Japan. But getting one in America after a powder day is as close as most skiers can get until next season. Photo: Keri Bascetta

Founded in 1876—well before COVID traveling restrictions and even the Spanish Flu, for that matter—Sapporo was the brainchild of Seibei Nakagawa. He snuck out of Japan at the age of 17 and ended up in Germany, where he was certified as a brewmaster by Berlin Beer Company before returning to his hometown of Sapporo. Sapporo beer didn’t arrive on American soil until 1984, but within two years, it became the most popular Asian brewery in the USA, a title the company still holds to this day.

For the most part, the bottles of Sapporo Premium that skiers can find in North America are brewed in Wisconsin and Ontario, but the company also imports to the USA from its brewery in Vietnam. While all of Sapporo coming from any brewery is supposed to taste the same, I find that the brews from Southeast Asia are much closer to the product found in Japan as the ingredients come from the same hemisphere. Plus, the Sapporo Premium imported from Vietnam is in a 22-ounce can with an “Imported” stamp, which just looks cool (even though it still might be imported from Ontario).

So if you’re saving your COVID relief checks for a trip to Japan next winter, keep it up. But maybe, just maybe, use a little bit of that money to get some Sapporo Premium for your next powder-day après. It’s an investment of a different sort, one that will provide a small bit of instant gratification as well as serve as a reminder that the skiing and the culture in Japan are on a different level, one that every deep-snow-loving skier needs to experience at least once in their lifetime.

Want to make sure your future ski trip to Japan is in good hands? Check Out This Experience with GoodGuides in Hakuba

Sapporo Premium Details

two bottles of Sapporo
Bottles are good, too. Photo: Courtesy of Sapporo
  • Beer Style: Pale Lager
  • Flavor Notes: Smooth pale malt, crisp mouthfeel, clean finish
  • Goes Well With: Powder-day après, ramen, pizza, saving up for a ski trip to Japan
  • ABV: 4.9% IBUs: 18
  • More info: Sapporo’s Website

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