Although sake might be the alcoholic drink most associated with Japan, when the workday is done most salarymen will reach for a beer. Japan’s four beer companies — Sapporo, Kirin, Asahi and Suntory — are huge, distributing all manner of beverages including Asian teas and foreign soft drinks (Pepsi’s oh-so-interesting Japanese versions are bottled by Suntory, for example). One problem with beer is that it contains something called purines, organic compounds that, among other things, can cause gout. For some reason the Japanese have a big fear of gout, and men to go to the doctor will often be warned of the dangers of consuming purine-rich products like red meat, anchovies and beer. Now Sapporo has come to the rescue of beer drinkers with a new beer product called Goku Zero which contains no purines, enabling men to drink it without endangering their health. Other recent innovations in Japan’s fast-moving beer industry have included a limited Asahi Extra Cold beer for summer, beer marketed exclusively to women and this year’s Aki-Aji (“Taste of Autumn”), a dark beer sold only in the fall.
Sapporo makes a beer to save men from gout.