Japan Word of the Day #37 – Nama (Draft Beer) and how it differs from the world

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Today’s word is – Nama Bīru (生ビール)

Have you noticed that often times customers in Japanese izakaya (drinking restaurant) order “nama” right after they arrived? Nama (生) is short for nama bīru (生ビール), which means draft beer. It is common (especially among businessmen) to order nama, freshly served from a keg, as their first drink so they can refresh.

However, you’ll also notice that in convenience stores, you see cans of beer with “nama (生)” written on their labels. “How could any canned beer be called draft beer?” You may think.

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That’s because in Japan, the definition of draft beer is different from other countries. Draft beer is “any beer that has not gone through pasteurization (treated with heat)” to remove microorganisms. As long as it is unpasteurized, it is qualified to be called nama.
Although sold in cans, this kind of beer usually has shorter shelf life and has fresher taste than pasteurized beer.

 

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