0.00% alcohol beer is actually more common here than you would imagine. I feel like in the US, this was a bit unheard of. But here in Okinawa, Japan it is rather common.

So what is the point you ask? Well, drinking culture is rather heavily entrenched in the Japanese social environment. Sometimes you need a break in between drinks, or maybe you have to get up early the next day, perhaps you are the DD, or maybe you are just a real lightweight– whatever the case, there is an alternative that allows you to feel included in the party, but not suffer from excess drinking. This alternative is alcohol-free beer. Usually, you hear people just drink soda or juice as the alternative; but that would be no fun, and plus, all your coworkers/boss or social club members would know you are not actually drinking, and this can put a damper on things (remember I mentioned drinking is heavily entrenched in building social connections?).

Anyway, alcohol-free/zero alcohol/non-alcohol beer actually is not so bad; the taste is not quite as refreshing and good as real beer, but it is a decent substitute for when you cannot or should not drink actual alcohol. And the good part is, many are actually calorie-free, so sometimes it is nice just for that. Pretty much every beer label here makes at least one if not multiple alcohol-free beers. Just look for the 酒0.00% which is marked clearly on the label. But be careful– some beers are marked 0/zero or free for things other than alcohol, so make sure to look for some keywords or you will pick up the wrong one:

ノンアルコール: non-alcohol

酒 0%: alcohol 0%

アルコールフリー: alcohol-free

I often go for the Orion Clear-Free with the blue label, although the regular Asahi dry zero is pretty decent, too.

At every social event, BBQ, and bar/izakaya I always see the alcohol-free options. You will see plenty of people picking up a case at the grocery store, too. Recently, I danced in a luau; before the show many of the members of my group were drinking alcohol-free beer, to set the mood but not be affected by alcohol! Non-alcohol beer is not just for prudes, tee-totalers, religious folk, etc; it is really for everybody.

My preference.

Some other types of non-alcohol beer, all easily found in grocery stores and conbini in Okinawa:

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