How did Sapporo connect with
the world to become an international brand?

1964 Starting an Export Business
for America

Sapporo Beer was imported into the United States in April 1964, by Mitsui & Co., thus breaking into the American market. The regular size for pasteurized beer bottles in America then was 355 ml. In March of 1972, Sapporo caught wind of the massive increase in Japanese-run restaurants on America’s west coast, and wanting to take advantage of this, opened a representative office in San Francisco. By September of 1978, they established another representative office in New York, strengthening sales and gathering more information on the American marketplace.

1980 The Game Changer:
“Bottled Draft”

Photo of “Sapporo Bottled Draft”
  • Sapporo Bottled Draft Poster

Up until the late 1970’s, pasteurized beer dominated the Japanese beer market.
Draft beer was served all summer at restaurants in Japan, and the idea that a crisp, cold beer was the drink of summer took hold of the population’s mind and never
let go.
Then began the beer halls, which sold the product directly to consumers. The draft beer was all the rage. “Sapporo Draft” was said to be the king of draft beer, and in fact secured the top share of the market. In 1950, Sapporo had begun developing a sterile filtration system in order to let families enjoy the great taste of their beer year round. Finally, in 1977, Sapporo Bottled Draft (the current “Black Label”) made its debut. Draft beer takes up 95% of the current beer market in Japan, so it was truly the beginning to a revolution in the industry.
Bottled Draft began its run overseas in 1980, and eventually became the SAPPORO PREMIUM BEER we know and love today.

1980 Things change
after a mistaken

Photo of “Sapporo Lager Beer” small bottle

In autumn of 1980, a new sushi bar in L.A.’s Newport Beach placed an order for 10 cases of Sapporo Lager (12 oz./355ml). However, what arrived at the restaurant were 10 cases of large (21 oz./633ml) Sapporo Bottled Draft. It was a blatant mistake.
Once the sushi bar opened, customers ordered Sapporo and the staff sheepishly brought out the Sapporo Bottled Draft. However, the customers were pleasantly surprised at the size and quality of the beverage. The genuine draft taste not available from other brands made the previously unpopular Sapporo spread like wildfire, sweeping the American market as the most popular Japanese beer.

1984 Launching Silver
Cup - Establishing
“Sapporo USA”

The first can design for the “Imported Sapporo Draft”
Nickname: “The Silver Sapporo”

March 1984 saw the introduction of the beautifully curvaceous and unique large can (650 ml/22 oz.), “Sapporo Cup Draft.” It didn't quite take off in Japan due to its larger size. However, that October, it quickly became a sensation overseas.
Its smooth, glass-like form was regarded as “cool” by the North American market, and “Silver Sapporo” was born. This new take on beer quickly captured the hearts of North American drinkers.

1985 Reaching the #1 share of the Japanese-brand beer market in the US

Only a year later in 1985, thanks to the huge splash Silver Sapporo made, Sapporo finally secured the long-coveted No. 1 market share of Japanese beer in America.
It only took 5 years of official importing to earn us that spot, and we still hold it after nearly 40 years of business.

2002 Launching

The design shown is the current 2023 design.

In 2002, “SAPPORO PREMIUM BEER” was marketed as an overseas-exclusive brand.

2011 Starting
production at Long
An brewery,

In 2011, Sapporo became the first Japanese beer maker to open a brewery in Vietnam. Sapporo Vietnam, Ltd. Began local production and garnered great reviews from the locals, leading to development into Thailand and Singapore, among other areas.