This is a common sight in Taiwan: emptied bottles of 台灣啤酒Taiwan Beer. No get-togethers, large or small, are complete without the copious imbibition of this venerable beverage, known forever to the locals as the Bīru [ビール - Japanese for beer] or 麥仔酒 [Ve-a-ju].
The predecessor of 台灣啤酒 is actually the Takasago Beer高砂麥酒:
Malt liquor or beer is indigent to Europe; although it was imported into Japan from America in ca 1870. During the late 19th century (the start of the Meiji period) brewers from Germany arrived, and the oldest Japanese beer brewery company麒麟麥酒株式會社[Kirin Bīru Kabushiki-gaisha] started production in 1907. Kirin, together with Asahi, Suntory, and Sapporo, have dominated Japanese beer market even now.
The consumption of imported beer in Taiwan [from Japan] had increased exponentially during this era, from a mere 893 hectoliter in 1897 to 270,000 hectoliter in 1907. By 1919, it reached 870,000 hectoliter. This rate of growth was unprecedented among all alcoholic beverages. And the reasons were the arrival of beer-drinking Japanese immigrants, the acceptance of beer in Taiwanese culture, plus the WW1 wartime prosperity that had also swept over Taiwan.
In Jan 1919, the chairman of 芳釀株式會社 [incorporated in 1910, started producing sake in 1913 on the same site as the now-defunct 台北酒廠], 安倍幸之助Abe Konosuke founded 高砂麥酒株式會社Takasago Bīru Kabushiki-gaisha with a capital of 2 million yen. The factory was located in 內上埤頭 in Taipei （now the site of JianGuo Brewery建國啤酒場）. All equipment was shipped from Hawaii and raw materials from overseas sources. This was also at the beginning of the Great Prohibition in the US, a decline in worldwide beer supply was anticipated.
Initially, the company operated at a loss, accumulating a debt of well over 4 million yen. The marketing strategy was therefore shifted from targeting overseas sales to inland Taiwan consumption. Not unlike the Budweiser Clydesdales, the company sent horse-drawn wagons on advertising tours all over the island. In addition, the chief technician from Kirin Bīru Kabushiki-gaisha was invited to Taiwan to improve the quality of the product. And the sales skyrocketed.
In 1923, Takasago Beer was brewed from malt and hops from Czechoslovakia and Germany. When the Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1937, the company bought wheat from Japan and Manchuria and hops from Poland and Germany. In late 1937, the sources of hops switched to Japan and Korea.
In 1945, after the Chinese takeover of Taiwan, Takasago Beer was re-named Taiwan Beer and stayed so ever since. In 1960, under the direction of German consultants, Taiwan's special premier rice 蓬萊米 was added into the mix [note: the definition of beer is brews that contain 67% malt (thus allowing up to 33% adjuncts including rice, corn, sorghum, potato, starch, and sugar)]. This gives the unique flavor of present-day Taiwan Beer. Needless to say, tastes may change, yet it is still the most enjoyable to those who reached drinking age and sampled Taiwan Beer liberally in the 1960s.