Every time I turn on the TV, it seems, one of Japan's big four beer companies is releasing some groundbreaking "new" brew which they hope will appeal to customers and win them a few points of market share over their competitors. Recently Sapporo brought out a new variety of its high-end Yebisu brand called "Yebisu The Hop," a name which highlights the fresh ingredients of the beer, based entirely on Czech Republic-grown hops as opposed to other beers that use rice and corn for part of the fermentation process. I like the name because it shows Japan's long fascination with the English word "the," which is truly difficult for them to master no matter how many years they study as the concepts of definite and indefinite articles don't exist in Japanese. The word "the" (rendered as za due to the limitations of Japanese phonetics) is used in marketing quite often, from department store Ito Yokado's semi-annual "The Sale" event to a tea bag I happen to have on my desk right now, which has "The Drink Bar" written on it as it was liberated from a family restaurant beverage bar at lunch. As is usually the case, the new Yebisu beer also has an extensive English explanation on it which is part decoration (since English is kakko ii or "cool") and part statement of quality. The text on the can, which is only slightly mangled, reads, "The exquisitely refined aroma of this beer is from select fine aroma hops and aroma hops, Yebisu yeast and slow maturation." I think I'll sneak down to my father-in-law's liquor shop tonight and try one.