Here in Japan, draft beer is called nama (生) beer, or so my boss said. Referencing my previous question, one answer said that draft beer is "pushed using gas, or drawn via a partial vacuum". I get the concept of the widget being used to facilitate that. However, canned draft beers in Japan have no widget at all! They come in different can sizes from very small to a liter size, and all have no widget whatsoever. So I wonder how it is classified as draft without having the characteristic of draft beer. Or am I missing something? Is it possible the term draft means something different around here?

  • 3
    The word "draft" is not regulated in any way (at least in the US), see e. g. "Miller Genuine Draft" (which doesn't fit the definition either). Of course, it's possible that the word is understood differently in Japan as well.
    – user505255
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 7:30
  • I see. I think it's even more possible that the word is understood differently here, since the term "nama" means fresh or raw.
    – IBG
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 13:31
  • Carlton Draught in Australia has been popular for many decades and the can version also has no widget. Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 3:36
  • Which specific Japanese beer would this be? There are some that are sold that come with CO2 cartridges and a server, and others which are generally non-beer beer (発泡酒 happoshu or 第三ビール daisan-beer) which say "nama" to evoke beerishness without being beer.
    – jmac
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 13:13
  • のどごし is no-malt. Other Kirin beers as well. And I know about the ones with the server, usually advertised to show ease of serving with a head, I'm not really sure. I'm not that good with Nihongo.
    – IBG
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 0:50

1 Answer 1


Draft isn't a very regulated term but most often draws its meaning from context. At a bar, draft is usually placed opposite bottled, meaning like you said that the beer is pushed using gas from a keg or drawn via vacuum from a cask. This is the actual meaning of draft.


On bottles and cans it most often means "Like-Draft", or the marketing department's way of telling you this beer tastes more like the version of our beer that you get when you go to bar and get off the tap, but in the comfort of your own home.

For a beer like Guinness or Boddingtons, this means a widget to hold high pressure Nitrogen gas to simulate the effects of a "Beer Gas" pouring system which uses a high pressure mixture of Nitrogen and CO2. Guinness has actually replaced the widget in some of their "draught" packages as well, I believe the draught bottles.

But for a beer like Miller Genuine Draft, or the other Japanese beers you're mentioning, it just means the beer is unpasteurized which gives it a flavor more like what you get from a fresh, unpasteurized keg rather than a pasteurized and/or filtered bottled beer. This is in line with the meaning of "nama" as you mentioned, as the beer is more "fresh" than traditional bottled beer.

  • Interesting that you point out that "draft" means unpasteurized. Makes me wonder why you can sell unpasteurized beer, but not raw milk. But that's another discussion for another place. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 3:21
  • @audiFanatic: From unpasteurized beer there is much lower risk of dairy infections. See for example infectiousdiseases.about.com/od/g/a/milkborne.htm . I think that in general animal diary products have a higher risk dangerous of infections. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 7:07
  • Obviously, it's why they drank beer in the Middle Ages rather than water, the alcohol kills much of it. It's more the principle of the matter for me; people have been drinking unpasteurized milk for ages, just like beer. I don't recall any mass milk-infection epidemic, nor a beer-infection epidemic. Give people the choice. But again, another discussion for another time. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 8:26
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    @audiFanatic didn't take me long to find one. Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 3:51

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