Sipping the stars ORION BREWERIES, LTD.

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Category: Japanese Food

Hops for hope

Named after the constellation in the night sky, Orion Breweries Ltd. was founded in post-war Okinawa, providing struggling youths with job opportunities and helping them reach for the stars. Founder Sosei Gushiken established the company in 1957, and Orion beer hit the shelves soon after. Today, over half a century later, Orion Breweries controls over 50 percent of the Okinawan beer market and has a loyal following in mainland Japan. What's more, drinkers all over the world are starting to get acquainted with this light, refreshing beer that stands alone just as well as it complements a fine, flavorful meal.


Orion Breweries CEO Yoshio Kadekaru


A taste to rely on: Orion beer is brewed only in Okinawa

Firmly rooted

Though Orion beer is often described as American-style owing to its light, non-bitter flavor, its ingredients represent the globe. The hops are of the German Hallertau variety, while the malt comes from countries including Australia and Germany. The crucial water comes from Okinawa itself, treated to make it perfect for beer production. But though its ingredient list might be international, it remains genuinely Okinawan-Orion beer is birthed, crafted and brewed in Nago, Okinawa. Current CEO Yoshio Kadekaru points with pride to the "Made in Okinawa" label. He explains that while other breweries license brewers in other countries to produce their beer, Orion is made exclusively in Okinawa. So no matter where in the world you buy it, you're sipping the real Okinawan nectar.

Exporting Okinawa to the world

Orion beer and Okinawan culture are a package deal. As such, Orion Breweries has started expanding in countries already familiar with the islands. Orion Draft, available in keg, bottle or can depending on the area, is sold in a number of Asian countries, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.S.-where it has already racked up four years in a row worth of "Best in the Beer Class" awards at the Northern California Premium Sake Fest. Further down the line, Orion Breweries plans to hit South American and European markets as well as rolling out a broader line of products.


The inner workings of Orion Breweries


Must-see, must-drink: Tourists flock to the Orion Breweries factory

Stars of the community

More than 50 years since its founding, Orion Breweries still has community squarely in mind. Sponsoring events, championing the environment through recycling efforts, and expanding into other industries-tourism in particular-Orion Breweries continues to be a pillar of Okinawan society. Gardens cultivated over a decade and a tour of the factory itself have become musts on the Okinawan tourist's itinerary. Meanwhile, the company's network of hotels and resorts-including new addition Hotel Orion Motobu-draw visitors to the island and boost the local economy. With its heart firmly planted in its home islands, Orion Breweries is spreading the bright stars of Okinawa all over the planet.