The American Craft Beer Experience Takes Tokyo by Storm

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Japan, renowned for its appreciation of high-quality and flavorful food and beverages, has become a key export destination for American craft brewers. In fact, more Brewers Association (BA) member breweries export to Japan than any other foreign market.

As part of its efforts to drive international awareness and sales opportunities for U.S. beer, the BA Export Development Program (EDP) conducted the seventh edition of the American Craft Beer Experience Festival (ACBE), in Tokyo, Japan November 10-12, 2023.

The ACBE returned to Tokyo with a bang, featuring a new third session on Friday evening. Over the three days, more than 5,000 beer lovers visited to experience the 40 American craft breweries featured at the outdoor venue on Tokyo Bay. The event, executed in collaboration with a committee of six importers, represents a robust network of trade members actively working with the BA to elevate the volume of quality American craft beer shipped to Japan. Brewers who were not represented by an importer were featured at the BA’s new-to-market booth.

Several U.S. brewery representatives accompanied the EDP team and traveled to Japan to participate in a trade mission surrounding the festival. Attendance included staff from 903 Brewers, East Brother Beer Company, Heavy Riff Brewing Company, Maui Brewing Company, Migration Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Paradox Brewery, The Bruery, and Upslope Brewing Company. Prior to the festival, these representatives engaged in market visits around Tokyo aimed at deepening their understanding of the Japanese beer market and the specific locations where imported craft beers thrive.

To support and amplify the festival objectives, the BA invested in a social media campaign to engage Japanese craft beer drinkers. During the campaign, served as the foundation for telling the story of American craft beer, the brewers that make it, and the people who inspire it. The most popular feature was the directory of breweries and their beers available in the Japanese market. From discovering the history of a brewery’s origins to learning a beer’s style metrics and where to buy it in Japan, the campaign website supplied Japanese consumers with an outlet to familiarize themselves with their favorite brands.

As the BA reflects on the success of the 2023 ACBE, plans are already underway for the 2024 edition. The EDP’s commitment to the Japanese market extends beyond the festival, encompassing social media marketing, coverage of member entry fees in the Japan International Beer Cup, and domestic trade missions inviting importers to attend the Craft Brewers Conference® and the Great American Beer Festival®.

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