Beer connoisseurs can prepare to have their palates tested by an out-of-this-world brew from Sapporo. The Japanese brewer is launching the world’s first beer produced using malt made 100 percent from “space barley”. The barley in question is the fourth generation descendant of the Haruna Nija malting barley that was developed by the company and kept in space for five months during 2006 as part of collaborative research with the Russian Academy of Sciences and Okayama University - who obviously have their priorities straight.

Originally, the barley was kept in space aboard the Zvezda Service Module component of the International Space Station (ISS) for the purpose of achieving self-sufficiency in food in the space environment and is part of Sapporo’s breeding and research into barley and hops.

In a somewhat questionable move, Sapporo says it has hosted a range of promotional events that capitalize on space barley since 2008 in an effort to foster children’s interest in space and science. And if space beer doesn’t do the trick, what will? However, sales of the beer will be limited to people living in Japan aged 20 and above and all proceeds will be donated to Okayama University to further promote science education for children and the development of space science research in Japan and Russia.

Anyone wanting to get their hands on the space-age amber fluid will need to apply through a dedicated web page (Japanese) set up on the company’s website with 250 successful customers selected among the applicants by a lottery. Winning applicants will be able to purchase one of 250 limited edition boxes containing six 330ml bottles at a price of 10,000 yen (approx. US$113 at time of publication). Applications are being accepted until January 7, 2010 and the beer will be delivered around January 28.

Given the involvement of the Russian Academy of Sciences, we’re wondering if “space vodka” isn't too far off?