“‘Consumers in Japan perceive it as old-fashioned. Also, there is a lovely convention with sake that you never pour for yourself, the person you are dining with should pour, but I think part of the problem is that in the corporate world this has been abused so that the new guy always has to drink until he pukes because the bosses keep pouring. It has that association for some.’ Apparently, a few years ago rumours also spread… that sake gave you bad breath and was acidic on the stomach, which can’t have helped.”
Sushi and Beyond page 165
The other thing about sake is that is has religious meaning, being tied into all kinds of Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies such as weddings and remembrance of the dead. During those times, too, it is something that can seem forced onto you more than something you choose to drink. The other thing about the pouring for each other is that is adds a level of formality to proceedings, so much so that you can show a lack of all formality by drinking out of the sake bottle. For all these reasons, a relaxed evening out will always start with beer (preferably your own glass rather than a shared bottle).