Beer (katakana: ビール) is also a popular alcoholic beverage consumed by Japanese.  The four major brewers, Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo and Suntory, produce the majority of annual output, which kept a captive market due to a 1940 law that required a brewery to annually produce at least 10,000 kokuan old unit of measure, equal to 1.8 liters.
The Japanese spelling is こく and the Kanji for this word is 石.
(approximately 1.8 million liters) to obtain a license to operate.  This law was revised to 2 million liters after World War II and was further revised in 1994 to 60,000 liters, due to changing consumer tastes and foreign competition.

Here are some useful phrases to use at a Japanese bar/restaurant, and remember that bottles are shared, so 3 people may well share one large bottle.

Japanese Phrase English Phrase
biiru kudasai “I would like a beer, please.”
ōbin large bottle; displayed on menus using this kanji: 大ビン
chūbin medium sized bottle; displayed on menus using this kanji: 中ビン
kobin small bottle; displayed on menus using this kanji: 小ビン
bakushu/mugishu The old way of saying “beer”.
geko someone who doesn’t drink alcoholic beverages.
a drinker.
aji ga usui weak tasting.
aji ga koi strong tasting.
nodogoshi ga ii a cool drink that goes down smoothly.
nigami ga kiite iru describes something that is bitter in a positive way.

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