Friday 17 August 2012

No Alcohol Beer? What a crazy place…

24 July
So Japan has many, many wonders.  One of them that I noticed but didn’t have time to take advantage of last time was 0.00% alcohol beer.  I think it made it’s debut when I was last in Japan (2009) and I must admit I was most curious to give it a try.  For some reason or another, I never got around to it, however on this trip I have made the effort to give it a go.

And here is my attempt at a beer review…


Being a bot of a fan of Kirin beer, I thought I’d give theirs a try.   The can look like a light beer to me, which I guess is about right since the bottom of the label states “Calorie off.”  What? No Calories or alcohol??  Then why am I drinking this?  It’s still made with malt wort and hops.  Now you can see why I was curious.

Cracking it open it made the ‘shh’ noise that it should have made.  Having a bit of a sniff and things were looking good.  It actually smelt like a nice tasting beer.  Sadly my current locale is lacking a beer glass and so this little fellow was the best I had.  One thing I have noticed about the Japanese is that they love a HUGE head on their beer.  Everyone I have had poured for me has been equal to or over 3cm…  That’s a bit more than I like (normally, my ideal beer has about 1cm), so I was curious to see how this would go, first pour I was a little cautious as I wasn’t sure what I was in for.

Turns out I was in for very little.
It fizzed up a little bit, but then faded away into nothing…  My first impression was not obviously a good one and I immediately thought, “This looks like a can of coke.”

The colour looks pretty good and it smelled all right, but I was concerned by the bubbling.

Taste wise is was close.  A pretty good try with the bitterness at the end but at the start as you take the start of the sip, it tastes close, but still a bit off.  Your taste buds can tell.  The texture of the beer is very wrong, so it doesn’t feel as smooth as it should.  I would describe it as quite watery in texture.  After a few more pours to try and get some head on it (I saw potential there), I gave up, put my camera away and got sloppy with my pouring.  Of course, that is when the best head would appear…  It looked full and creamy, I was a bit in shock and as I raced for my camera, I could see it fading away slowly but surely.

It took me about 3 seconds to get the camera and the head had halved in that time.

IMG_4965 IMG_4966IMG_4967
I managed to get the head to the top of the glass in the first picture, all these photos were taken within a minute….
And that was taken at the end…

So in the end, it was kind of disappointing.  I am not sure what I was expecting, but I obviously expected better.  The texture, way the bubbles flow and inability to sustain head ( !! ) brought me to the conclusion that this isn’t best thought of as an alcohol free beer, it’s best thought of as a beer flavoured soft-drink or soda.  Stick it in the fridge next to your coke, not your beer. 

It really makes me wonder who their target consumer is for this product.  Beer drinkers will be able to taste the difference and would probably stick to beer and those who don’t drink beer are hardly going to be won over to the flavour as it still tastes close enough to beer to keep them away.  It doesn’t have that ‘Aaaah’ sort of feel when you drink it on a hot day (despite what the advertising shows) and so, I am thoroughly confused as to the deal here. 

The only market I could think of for this is is um, I don’t really know.  In Japan they do have a no limit on alcohol and driving, even riding your push-bike.  So any alcohol reading is bad.  there also seems to be a large amount that seem to have an allergy to alcohol and get red faced on the slightest bit of alcohol, so perhaps for them?  Sadly the Japanese population seem quite impressionable (sweeping statements inc.)  and will buy almost anything if it’s advertised enough.

Heck it worked on me…

After doing a bit more research, it turns out that it is selling pretty well!  Like I said, advertise anything enough in Japan….  I really don’t understand why.  It’s not all that nice as a beer and not all that nice as a soft drink.  Another thing that I find interesting is the fact that they use the 0.00% alcohol.  Isn’t 0% enough of an emphasis for the drink?  Does having those extra 2 decimal places make it MORE alcohol free than their competitor’s no alcohol beers? And yes, there are other brands of no alcohol beer in Japan as well.  I am curious to know what they are like, but I suspect they all taste as bad as this one, or worse.

Here is my video:

And here is the Kirin ad.
Evil’s of advertising.

All this talk of fake beer has made me want a real one….


  1. Nice review!

    Getting pictures of beer, especially the head, is a royal pain in the ass I'll tell you. I try as hard as I can to get not only an accurate representation of how the brew poured and looks, but also try to make it look "pretty" or whatever. And you know what? It's not fuckin' easy.

    Things happen as they will though. If you've got a super fast fading head and your camera starts going haywire, then well, perhaps that head shouldn't have popped away so fast. As for soda like beer, I hate that shit. I like a beer that FEELS like a beer. Mouthfeel and look do matter.

    Sometimes, extremely rarely, I have found a beer with a horrible look and lacking mouthfeel that tasted absolutely awesome! Which was weird. But at least it tasted good. There are quite a few beers that look and feel nice, but taste like Meh!

    1. Cheers, I used yours as a source to learn what to look for. And yeh, This is proof of how beer is more than JUST flavour, it's the whole experience that is important.


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