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Food & Beverage

Ginza craft beer bar offers subscriptions for half pint daily

Kirin-run brewery taps streaming model with $23 monthly plan

The Beer to Go bar in Ginza is run by Kirin subsidiary Spring Valley Brewery. (Photo by Takeru Goto)

TOKYO -- Streaming music and video have subscription services, and now pouring beer will join the list courtesy of a leading Japanese brewer.

Kirin Brewery said on Thursday that patrons at a Ginza craft beer bar can sign up to receive one beer per weekday for a monthly fee of 2,496 yen ($23).

The bar is run by subsidiary Spring Valley Brewery, part of an effort by the Kirin Holdings unit to expand beyond mass-market beers like its flagship Ichiban Shibori brand.

Starting next Monday, subscribers can choose from up to 17 beers at Spring Valley's Beer to Go location at Ginza Sony Park. The first 250-milliliter beverage (about half an imperial pint) is covered by the subscription, but subsequent drinks and food are not.

With summer coming and companies taking steps to cut overtime, the brewery hopes to attract people for an after-work drink. It sees 20- to 40-somethings employed in the Ginza area as its target clientele.

Craft brews make up a small but growing part of a Japanese beer market that has begun to stagnate.

Steve Hindy, co-founder of New York-based Brooklyn Brewery, told Nikkei in an interview last year that craft beer likely will catch on faster in Japan than it did in the U.S. because Japanese consumer awareness is already high.

Kirin, which bought a 24.5% share of Brooklyn Brewery in 2016, also invests in Yo-Ho Brewing, Japan's leading craft beer company.

"Hopefully, having more opportunities for people to encounter craft beer will lead to a bigger market," said Hiroko Shimamura, president of Spring Valley.

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