Now we just need some sugar-free skittles and we’re set.

In a bit of good news, this October the Japanese government will be lowering the tax on beer.

For far too long, excessive taxation has hurt the production of decent beer at affordable prices in the country, often resulting in beer knock-offs like happoshu (low malt beer) and “third beers” (beers that use no malt or heavily diluted malt) dominating store shelves.

But with this relief of seven yen (US$0.07) per 350-milliliter (12-ounce) can, a beer Renaissance may very well be brewing. However, for those of us watching our waste-lines, that could be a mixed blessing.

Take the father of Aiko Hiromasa, who, at a cherry blossom party in 2015, lamented how he could only enjoy one beer for fear of getting out of shape. The sad dad’s words inspired Hiromasa to use her position at Kirin Brewery to begin a top-secret project to create a sugar-free beer.

▼ Aiko Hiromasa, lead developer of Kirin’s first sugar-free beer

Removing sugar from beer while keeping it delicious was no easy feat. However, in the ensuing five years, 350 attempts were made until Hiromasa’s team finally developed what was to become Kirin Ichiban Shibori Zero Sugar.

Since this is Japan, it bears emphasizing that this is real beer, and not one of the many beer substitutes on the market. Kirin is understandably tight-lipped on the “New Sugar-Cut Method” that took them so long to develop, but they describe it as a combination of malt selection, preparation, and fermentation.

The result is a 4-percent ABV beer with less that 0.5 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) and without any additives or sweeteners of any type. In other words, the beer is made with all the same basic ingredients of Kirin’s regular Ichiban Shibori but in such a way that sugar is removed from the final product.

This only leaves the question of what that final product tastes like. Most humans are conditioned to interpret the phrase “sugar-free” to mean “tastes like disappointment,” but unlike other treats that rely on sweetness, such as colas or gums, beer could probably get away with being a little less sweet and, dare I say, could conceivably turn out even better.

The answer to this burning question will have to wait until 6 October, when Kirin Ichiban Shibori Zero-Sugar launches nationwide in 350 and 500-milliliter (12 and 17-ounce) cans. Even if it doesn’t pan out, the reduced tax rate coming at the same time will probably mean the arrival of many more great beer offerings as well.

Source, images: PR Times
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