Festivals and other large events are another reason for this growth in popularity. These have increased exponentially over the past few years, such that now it seems that some kind of Craft Beer Festa or Oktoberfest is happening nearly every weekend. These events, with their laid-back atmosphere, often held outdoors, pull in people who would be much less likely to stroll into a dedicated beer bar. And of course large, crowded events have a special attraction to Japanese who have been raised to believe in the strength of the group.
That said, breweries are so busy trying to supply festivals and hip bars that few are endeavoring to reach traditional lager drinkers. It can still be difficult to find craft beer at supermarkets, restaurants, and izakaya, and the high prices at craft beer bars can be off-putting to the uninitiated. It is possible, though, that the recent large-scale entry of Kirin into the craft beer scene will help change that. Kirin, Asahi, and Sapporo have long dabbled with specialty brew pubs, but now, with their huge investment in Yo-Ho Brewing and their plan to build two high-profile brewpubs, Kirin has upped the stakes. Many fans fear they will produce a “crafty” watered-down beer marketable to the masses. On the other hand, though, it seems clear that this will make craft beer more widely available.