Japanese Brewery Introduces Soft-Serve Beer

With Japan facing the prospect of yet another sweltering summer with limited power and air conditioning, one beverage company has come up with a creative solution to stay cool: soft serve beer. The drink, concocted by brewing giant Kirin, tops off the classic "Ichiban Shibori" beer with a frozen foam that looks a lot like frozen yogurt.

Kirin spokesman Tadayuki Higashi describes it as "putting a lid" on beer. With the frozen top, he says, the brew stays ice cold for 30 minutes, much longer than the typical time it takes to down a pint.

"People expect beer foam to be soft and frothy, so the frozen top is a little surprising at first," Higashi said. "The drink is indescribable."

Kirin came up with the idea for the frozen draft to create buzz among younger drinkers who have increasingly opted for trendy cocktails instead of beer. Higashi said the company wanted to give customers a "new experience" with a classic drink.

The soft-serve top is made from beer alone, and is available in more than 100 locations throughout Japan, including baseball stadiums. Kirin is hoping to expand the frozen machines to 1,000 locations by the end of the year.

"We think this is a drink that will sell year round," Higashi said. "In the winter, it will be like eating shaved ice, that tastes like beer."