The Real Reason Kobe Beef Cows Are Sometimes Given Beer

In the culinary world, Kobe beef — originating in Japan and only gaining popularity fairly recently — is widely considered to be the creme de la creme of the beef industry. A subsection of Wagyu beef, which comes with its own luxurious reputation, Kobe is a bit of a legend, known only to those lucky enough to taste its rich flavors. Of course, with anything that's legendary comes rumors that just aren't true ... or, at least, they're only true in part.

One of those myths surrounding Kobe beef is that the cows it comes from are sometimes fed beer. While this sounds a bit ludicrous to anyone who's ever been around a cattle farm, the rumor has gained footing among travel blogs like Notes Of Nomads and even reputable publications including The Japan Times. The beer rumor comes alongside equally eyebrow-raising ideas that the cows are massaged daily with sake to help make up for their lack of exercise, and that the cows hang out while listening to classical music, which is better to soothe their weary bovine souls.

And while all of this seems a bit over the top and unlikely, we can at least confirm that Kobe beef cows are indeed sometimes given beer — just not for the reason you might think.

Beer helps stimulate appetites, including those of cows

Beer aficionados might scoff at giving up their beloved drink to a cow, while beef-lovers may declare that the beer is necessary in order to get that coveted Kobe flavor and texture. But, beer isn't necessarily part of any luxurious pampering treatment and it's not even necessary for this type of beef to reach the high quality attributed to it.

Instead, according to Delish, farmers feed cows beer in the summer months in order to stimulate their appetites (haven't we all been a little peckish after one too many pints at the pub?). It's said that the cows are likely to naturally eat less during the warmer months — something that's not really helpful for achieving that major marbling and melt-in-your-mouth quality that is synonymous with Kobe beef.

In other words, Kobe beef comes from fat cows, and fat cows can't get that way without a lot of food. So far be it for us to question getting a cow tipsy to encourage them to eat just a few more bites. Though let it be known that standard water is still what these cows are guzzling most often.