Japan's second biggest beer maker Kirin has been having success this summer with a new product that claims to be the world's first totally alcohol-free beer - Free. Sales of Free are predicted to increase to 1.6 million cases this year -way above initial expectations.
Free is advertised as 0.00 % alcohol and seems to be a hit with truck drivers, pregnant women and even hospital patients, according to an article in the Japan Times.
Kirin's Free is low on calories (only 14) and price (just 147 yen) in my local convenience store.
As interest has seemingly waned in cheaper alternatives to beer called happoshu ("sparkling liquor"), that bears a passing resemblance to real beer and due to Japanese tax laws retails for considerably less, Kirin sought a product that would appeal to beer drinkers who still wanted to drive. More stringent penalties have recently been introduced for drunken driving in Japan including fines for passengers for riding with a driver over the limit.
Free's zero alcohol is produced by omitting the usual yeast fermentation process plus some still-secret new technology. Well, how does it rate?
Open a can and it smells like beer - slightly flat beer - and it's first taste is a bit like shandy (a beer and lemonade mix). Finish the can and well, it rather underwhelms with a slightly chemical after-taste. Like real beer, though, it does make you burp.
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Friday, July 17, 2009