This year’s summer, colorless beverages such as Coca-Cola Clear, Morning Premium Tea, Clear Latte and the Beer Taste All-Free All-Time alcohol-free beer have been trending in Japan. However, the limited run of Clear Craft, 5% ABV alcoholic beverage developed by Asahi Brewing Ltd, wasn’t a part of the trend. The limited batch of about 9000 pints of the Clear Craft was served on draft in four Asahi Brewing owned Asahi tap only establishments June 25th through the end of August. Luckily, one of the establishments is located in Osaka which is accessible to me.
In July, Yumi Sakai, the owner of Bîru Joshi (“Beer Girl”) blog, has interviewed Masako Nishiyama, the researcher directly responsible for the R&D behind Clear Craft at Asahi Brewing Ltd. Masako thought that beers are “a bit heavy”, “make you full quickly”, and its “difficult to drink many at a time”. She felt the desire to create the ultimately refreshingly delicious beer. According to the research team’s survey, words “colorless and clear” lead to associations of “sukkiri” to the Japanese consumer. “Sukkiri” translates as “refreshing” in the beverage context. That revelation marked the start of the project. It took Nishyama and the team more than 100 times to hammer down the recipe and it took eight long years for the idea to become a commercially sellable product if only for a limited testing run. Yumi describes the beverage as “lightly bitter, refreshing and (it) leaves an overall impression of sweetness which might confuse consumers who were prepared to drink a beer”. The consumers were asked to fill in a short questionnaire and had comments such as “quaffable because it’s clear”, “refreshing and good”, “too refreshing”, “I want it to taste more like a beer”. Masako heard their voices and is tweaking her recipe yet again to reduce the sweetness.¹
Here are my tasting notes: Pours a crystal clear slight tint of yellow with a quickly dissipating head leaving no lacing. Floral, Hallertau-like hop bouquet. Chemically induced clean bitterness comes in front, supported by carbonation and cold serving temperature. There is none to low malt flavor to follow or support the bitterness. Body is medium and carbonation is typical. In my opinion, there were no traditional ingredients used. If there is sweetness, it comes from Sweet’n Low sweetener-like flavor and its well hidden by the artificial bitterness which lingers with an unnecessarily warm finish. There’s much more tweaking for Masako to do to make this beverage palatable.
- Yumi Sakai, “A developer explains the reasons behind the making of a transparent craft beer”. Last modified July 5th, 2018, https://beergirl.net/asahi-clearbeer_n/