Kirin Brewery Co. is set to launch a flagship mainstream beer brand, according to reports in Japan.

The brewer, which is battling it out with rival Asahi Breweries for leadership of the Japanese beer market, will unveil the brand, named Kirin Gold, next week.

Kirin leads Japan's buoyant low-malt and no-malt beer segments but has lost top spot in the country's mainstream beer category.

A report from the Kyodo news agency yesterday (4 January) said Kirin Gold would sit alongside stable mate Kirin Ichiban in the brewer's portfolio.

Kirin Gold, which will be brewed using Czech Saaz hops, will be targeted at consumers aged 20- to 30-years old, the report said. The beer will be priced at around JPY270 (US$2.28) for a 500ml can.

Last month, Kirin set out a battleplan on how it plans to boost operating profit by at least 28% in the next three years. The brewer set out aggressive plans to focus on growth in its overseas operations, non-beer alcohol and soft drink businesses.

Kirin plans to spend JPY250bn on capital investments between 2007 and 2009. Kirin said it had set a further JPY300bn aside for investments to "secure a new growth trajectory", including acquisitions.