Most Americans are probably unaware that Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. This lack of awareness could change if the marketing plans of three Japanese-Brazilian brewers succeed.
Maíra Kimura, Yumi Shimada and Fernanda Ueno, the co-founders of the Brazilian company Japanese brewery, have joined forces with beerinternational, a woman-owned American company, to brew, distribute and sell its beers in the United States. Currently, Japas beer is sold in 10 states: California, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“Our portfolio consists of year-round beers, rotating fruity sours and seasonal IPAs, New England fruity IPAs and unique special releases,” says Kimura, who expects the beers will soon be available in Texas and South Carolina.
Ten Japas beers are sold in the United States, including Ichi-Um, a New England IPA with yuzu and cocoa, and the year-round beers Matsurika, Oishii, Neko IPA and Yuzu Nama Biiru.
Japas aims to combine “Japanese ingredients and concepts in its recipes whenever possible,” says Ueno, who, like her co-founders, was born in Brazil and has Japanese ancestry. The brewery signs a contract with Chicago’s Large central brewing company produce its beers in the United States.
The next beers Japas plans to release will be early releases, Kimura says. It will be Kimokawaii, a strong sour ale with blackberries, dragon fruit and hibiscus; Sawa Sudachi, a sour beer with sudachi, and Black Daruma, a Russian imperial stout with persimmon.
Kimura explains her love for beer and how she got into the brewing industry.
“Beer has always been my drink of choice, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I realized you could make homemade beer out of it,” she says. “After some research I did my first batch of home brewing and fell in love with the whole process. Then in 2011 I went to England to learn how to brew professionally, took a technical course at Brewing laboratoryand obtained a brewer’s certificate from Brewing and Distilling Institute. After that, I returned to Brazil and launched one of the first contract brands in the country, worked in distribution and learned a lot about the market before launching Japas in 2014.”
Shimada has a background in design and marketing and fell in love with beer 10 years ago.
“I went to a beer sommelier program with my boyfriend, and I was hooked,” she says. I wanted to learn more about the beer market in Brazil, because craft beer was a very new thing at that time. After taking this course, I started designing labels for other brands and creating magazines for the beer market. »
Ueno credits his father for getting him into the brewing industry.
“My dad instilled in me a passion for craft beer,” she says. “He liked to buy craft beer for parties and barbecues, and I went with him to my hometown brewery to pick up kegs.”
Ueno began studying food engineering, as she was particularly interested in the production process.
“I also loved learning about food science and brewing,” she says. “During my studies, I started to perfect myself on fermentation, and that’s when I started to do homebrew. In 2009, I got an internship at the same brewery my dad took me to, then I became a certified beer sommelier and worked at Cervejaria Colorado, one of Brazil’s most award-winning craft breweries. I haven’t looked back since, and I’m so excited for the next evolution of my beer journey with Japas.