Powdered Beer! What a brilliant idea! Or not!
David Ewalt: A lot of weird and wonderful stuff comes out of Japan. Kaiju. Crazygame shows.The tanuki. They make good beer, too — I’ll put a mass-market lager from Asahi or Kirin up against Budweiser or Miller any day. But I wasn’t quite so impressed when I recently tried a Japanese powdered beer provided by my friend Ryan — sure, it was weird and fun, but as an actual beverage… not so great. (Pics)
Here’s the product’s packaging — a thin foil envelope. The only English printed on it is the word “beer.” Since I don’t speak Japanese, I must concede that this label may in fact say something like “Hey, dumb gaijin, don’t expect this to actually taste like beer.”
Poured into the appropriate beer drinking vessel (you know the rules: a stange for Kölsh, a flute for lambic, and polystyrene for powdered) the “beer” reveals itself as a mix of light and dark particles. It smells sweet, almost candylike. I am increasingly suspicious that I am being tricked into drinking something that does not contain hops and malt.
Add water, and the powder boils into a sickly head of foam. The drink bubbles slightly, like near-flat cola, and releases more of the candylike smell. A taste confirms my fears; this is either an attempt at powderedroot beer, or else there is a madman with broken tastebuds loose in a Japanese beverage factory. The flavor of the stuff is reminiscent of the bottle cap candy I used to enjoy when I was a kid.
In any case, I can’t say I recommend Japanese powdered (root?) beer, but it was a fun diversion. If you feel the need for a real Nipponese beer, may I recommend one of the excellent Hitachino Nest brews from Kiuchi Brewery? And if you’re thirsty for powdered beverages, stick to Kool-Aid.