Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sapporo Premium Alcohol Free Black


Wow, that’s quite a long name for a drink! So we’re back to drinking non alcohol, beer “taste” drinks. My last non alcohol beer taste drink was surprisingly positive so now that I found a drink mimicking my favorite kind of beer, dark beer, it must be good right? Well, we’ll see about that...Shifty

This spring/summer a lot of dark themed beers and beer like drinks have hit the market. Sometimes it makes me wonder if all the national breweries are collaborating with each other when they chose their theme of the season. Like some kind of twisted board meeting in a dark room heavy with cigarette smoke. Conspiracies abound! Well, this season it seems dark beers is the flavor of choice this time around which is fine with me but so far it hasn’t been as good as I had hoped.

My first impression before opening the can is that the packaging looks inviting enough. I like the black and gold text although I think the front of the can is a bit crowded with text with too many fonts. I think this kind of text crowding issue is a general problem with many Japanese products though. It’s really not all that unique so I can’t really knock them for it as they probably don’t know better. Text on a can isn’t what makes the drink taste good after all. So let’s crack it open and really get into this…

Premium Alcohol Free Black pours very fizzy like a cola. I thought it would remain heady like other drinks similar to it because of what I saw from the TV commercial and magazine ads advertising it over the past week or so. What was kind of neat is that the beer officially released on my birthday. Thanks Sapporo! Sorry I’m getting sidetracked here… The way the drink poured gave me a little concern for things to come. The drink did pour with a convincing authentic amber-brown color but the head did something unexpected…

Umai? I’ll be the judge of that Daisuke!

Although I am not into heavy beer heads I do appreciate one that sticks around long enough to keep the beer beneath it tasting decent. Premium Alcohol Free Black lost its head within moments of pouring. This could be due to how I pour beer but I poured it as I would a stout which usually leaves about a half inch of foam on the top. So that’s why the picture at the beginning of this post looks like it has been sitting for a few minutes after I poured it. I assure you the picture was taken immediately after I put the can down to take its picture.

So far the beer is totally not like the commercial. Sad smile I want whatever they were drinking in the commercial, it probably was the real deal from their Stout line… Even how the foam sticks to the glass in the commercial reminds me more of their Stout than what I got from this drink.

After taking its picture I decided to do a little scent test to get a preview of things to come. The smell wasn’t quite authentic as I had hoped but it had a sweetness to it. Before I get into taste, I want to list my loosely translated main ingredients that make this freak of science possible.


Wheat, sugar, hops, caramel color, and other fun sciency stuff to make this thing work. I guess the caramel coloring is there to make it look more authentic for its light head that disappears quickly.

So how does it taste? Flat. Flat not in that it lacks carbonation, but flat in how it tastes. A better word may be “empty.” The drink lacks any thickness or weight to it even though its not one of those calorie free non alcohol drinks so I am not sure why they made it so watered down. It tastes more like a seltzer water than a beer, let alone a black beer. There is one tiny redeeming quality as it does leave a light aftertaste reminiscent of a dark beer but its not satisfying enough when its in my mouth to make it worth it. Its such a tease really!

The bottom line; while it may sound like I’m completely dogging this drink its really not too bad. It’s drinkable if you’re desperate for something that looks like a dark beer and you lost your sense of taste. If you are looking to drink beer without having to ingest alcohol (you’re removing the best part from the drink in my opinion) its not too bad of a substitute I guess.

I’m a little surprised to admit this but I think Asahi’s Dry Zero tastes slightly better. I kind of want a second opinion here and I might try to drink them both at the same time just to make sure what I am saying is accurate. Generally I prefer Sapporo products over all other Japanese bands, for example their Mugi to Hop happoshu brand is excellent, but this time around I have to admit Sapporo dropped the ball this time.

You can click here for the official website if you’re interested in the product. You’ll notice its pretty bare and doesn’t have a flash intro or any interesting design to its webpage. I have a feeling this product won’t be around very long.

I hope dark beers aren’t just a passing fad. I really hope that the breweries keep trying to improve their formulas. It brings more variety to the ho-hum beer market in Japan. Something many expats like me appreciate. I am not sure if this a permanent flavor or not but if you are feeling curious, pick one up. They’re not too expensive at around 119 yen a can.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Scott

    I am a writer for a UK-based beer blog and I am doing some research into alcohol-free beers around the world. I would be really interested in chatting to you over email - if you don't mind talking to me could you drop an email to Thanks! Pip