Friday, November 25, 2011

The Big Hydrogen Beer Bang

Evidently, hydrogen beer is big in Japan and in 1999, it was at the centre of a three-way lawsuit between former stockbroker Toshira Otoma, the Tike-Take karaoke bar, and the Asaka Beer Corporation.

In the manufacturing process of "Suiso" beer, carbon dioxide is replaced with environmentally friendly hydrogen gas, and is extremely popular at Japanese karaoke sing-along bars and discotheques.

For those participating in karaoke, hydrogen molecules are lighter than air and therefore sound waves are transmitted more rapidly with the nontoxic gas resulting in uncharacteristically high voices. Exploiting this quirk of physics, soprano parts are easily and regularly performed after consuming a big gulp of Suiso beer.

The flammable nature of hydrogen has apparently also become a big selling point, though it should be noted that Asaka has not acknowledged that this was a deliberate marketing ploy on their part. Blowing flames from one's mouth using a cigarette as an ignition source became a popular activity, as did entering flame throwing competitions in pubs.

"Mr. Otoma has no one to blame but himself. If he had not become drunk and disorderly, none of this would have happened. Our security guards undergo the most careful screening and training before they are allowed to deal with customers," said Mr. Takashi Nomura, Manager of the Tike-Take bar.

"Mr. Otoma drank fifteen bottles of hydrogen beer in order to maximize the size of the flames he could belch during the contest. He catapulted balls of fire across the room that Godzilla would be proud of, but this was not enough to win him first prize since the judgment is made on the quality of the flames and the singing, and after fifteen bottles of lager he was badly out of tune."

"He took exception to the result and hurled blue fireballs at the judge, singeing the front of a female judge's hair and entirely removing her eyebrows and lashes, and ruining the clothes of two nearby customers. None of these people have returned to my bar. When our security staff approached Mr. Otoma, he turned his attentions to them, making it almost impossible to approach him. Our head bouncer had no choice but to hurl himself at Mr. Otoma's knees, knocking his legs from under him."

"The laws of physics are not to be disobeyed, and the force that propelled Mr. Otoma's legs backwards also pivoted around his centre of gravity and moved his upper body forward with equal velocity. It was his own fault that he had his mouth open for the next belch, his own fault that he held a lighted cigarette in front of it, and his own fault that he swallowed that cigarette."

"The Tike-Take bar takes no responsibility for the subsequent internal combustion, rupture of his stomach lining, nor the third degree burns to his esophagus, larynx and sinuses as the exploding gases forced their way out of his body. Mr. Otoma's consequential muteness and loss of employment are his own fault."

At the time, in spite of the best efforts by the media, Mr. Otoma was not available for comment.

Point of reference:

Ernest Roper
Durban Regional Manager


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