What is a Wheat Alcohol 麦酒 in Japanese ?

Today's theme is quite easy, I think.

Alcohol (酒) made from wheat (麦)...

When put together, these two kanji are read as ビール « biiru » in Japanese.

So, yes, it means « beer » !

Regardless of the standard readings of each of these kanji, when put together, they become a set, and are pronounced « biiru » .

History and consumption 

 Beer was introduced in Japan by western people at the end of the 19th century.

It is said that a Japan's first beer was brewed by a Japanese doctor in 1853.

Since then, beer consumption has continued to go up and it is now the most consumed alcoholic beverage in Japan.

In Japan, liter (about 1.350.000.000 gal) of beer was consumed in 2018 alone!

Other alcoholic beverages in Japan

But, many other kinds of alcoholic beverages are also appreciated in Japan. 

日本酒  "nihon shu"

日本 "nihon" means "Japan", and 酒 "shu" means "alcohol". These kanji mean "Sake" – a traditional Japanese alcoholic drink made from rice. 

焼酎 "shoo chuu"

This is a distilled spirit made mostly from potatoes, sugarcane or wheat. 焼 "shoo" means « roast or burn ».

In China, 'distilled spirit' is written 焼酒 (burned alcohol).

The second kanji 酒 (read as « chu » in Chinese) was probably confused with another kanji 酎 which is read as "chuu" in Japanese.

In general, 焼酎 is cheap and very popular. It can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, such as on the rocks or mixed with cider.

梅酒 "ume shu"

梅 "ume" means « plum » and so 梅酒 is a liquor made with 焼酎 "shoo chuu", sugar and plums.

It is a sweet and sour liquor appreciated by foreign visitors as well.

ワイン "wain"

Wine is becoming more and more popular in Japan. It is thought that wine was introduced to Japan in the 16th century by the Spanish or Portuguese. In the past, wine was known as 葡萄酒 "budoo shu", with the kanji 葡萄 "budoo" meaning « grapevine».

Today however, we use the word ワイン "wain" taken directly from English.

Whatever you drink 麦酒、日本酒、焼酎、梅酒 or ワイン、drink sensibly!






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