1957 Sapporo Beer makes a comeback

Kirin Beer enters Hokkaido

With Nippon Beer’s share of the market sinking, personnel began talking about the idea of bringing back the Sapporo Brand around 1954. The decisive factor in moving this decision forward was Kirin Beer’s entrance into the Hokkaido market in March 1955. Until that time, Nippon Beer had had a monopoly. While Kirin Beer was not doing a heavy volume of sales in the region, the impact of this rival brand entering their home turf apparently struck a chord. Before long, the Sapporo branch was getting urgent requests from the presidents of influential local beer agents to reinstate the Sapporo Beer brand.

An exclusive re-run in Hokkaido

Hearing this feedback, and to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Sapporo brewery, Sapporo Beer was brought back as an exclusive Hokkaido item in March 1956. Sales were extremely brisk immediately after it was released, and in June the area was completely converted to fans of Sapporo. The excellent performance of the brand in Hokkaido led the company to conduct market surveys on both the Nippon and Sapporo brands. What they found was that the Nippon brand was popular among young people, but not so much among those forty and up. By contrast, Sapporo Beer was well-recognized and popular among those of all ages. In January of 1957, the company decided to sell Sapporo Beer around the country.

  • The label for the Hokkaido-exclusive Sapporo Beer
    The label for the Hokkaido-exclusive Sapporo Beer
  • Sapporo Beer re-releases nationwide
    Sapporo Beer re-releases nationwide
  • A poster from 1957
    A poster from 1957

Bottled Draft, a Hokkaido favorite

An applied ceramic label on Bottled Draft
An applied ceramic label on Bottled Draft
A 1957 poster for Sapporo Bottled Draft
A 1957 poster for Sapporo Bottled Draft

In July of 1957, Sapporo Bottled Draft went on sale exclusively in Tokyo, Yokohama, and other urban regions. The year after, it also went on sale in Hokkaido. Popularity gradually declined in the cities it was first sold in, but in Hokkaido, the product was a success. In Hokkaido, where heating had become commonplace, drinking cool beer even in winter was popular, so people welcomed draft beer over the pasteurized variety. Eventually, people visiting Hokkaido and trying Sapporo Bottled Draft for themselves contacted the Sapporo branch and brewery asking for how to get their hands on it back home. This draft beer would gradually evolve into the modern predecessor of Sapporo Bottled Draft, with one kanji character changed in the name.