From the rooftops of department stores and hotels to the parks across the country, summertime in Japan means beer gardens. The smell of grilling yakinuku and the jovial sounds of over friendly conversation are a staple during the late afternoons and early evenings of the Japanese summer months. On July 5th at Midtown in Roppongi (Tokyo), Suntory Liquors Ltd. hosted a beer garden with a unique twist; no alcohol. In promotion of it’s “All Free” 0.000% non-alcoholic beer, Suntory brought out all of the usual foods (sausages, different varieties of curry, edamame) and offered patrons a taste of the refreshing beverage mixed with different fruit juices and on it’s own. Other non-alcoholic choices such as soda, juice, and tea were also available.
While sales of domestic beers in Japan continue to decline, consumption of non-alcoholic beer is at an all-time high. All-Free have sold 2.7 million cases since the beginning of the year, a 23% increase compared the same period in 2011. Competing brands Asahi and Kirin also offer non-alcoholic beers (Asahi Point Zero and Kirin Free), and the competition is heating up. While this event is the first of it’s kind, it may be a sign of things to come.
The Suntory beer garden will run until July 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.