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Japan’s new canned chu-hai with fresh lemon slice: disappointing gimmick or drink revelation?

Japan’s new canned chu-hai with fresh lemon slice: disappointing gimmick or drink revelation?

Date published: 21 June 2024

Future Lemon Sour is a world-first, but does it really recreate the izakaya experience at home?

Just last week, Asahi Breweries announced it would be expanding upon its 2021 Nama Beer Jockey Can innovation by incorporating the special pull-off lid style into a new product called Mirai no Lemon Sour (“Future Lemon Sour”).

Lemon sours are a popular drink at izakaya taverns, where you can enjoy the mix of shochu (a Japanese distilled spirit), soda water, and lemon juice, served with one or more slices of fresh lemon, and the new Asahi beverage aims to give its customers a way to enjoy this experience at home.

▼ The Future Lemon Sour comes in two varieties — original and plain.

Released in limited quantities in nine prefectures, including Tokyo, on 11 June, we were fortunate enough to pick up one of each variety at our local supermarket before they sold out.

▼ The cans retail for 298 yen (US$1.89) each.

This is relatively expensive for a canned lemon sour, but there’s good reason for it, as the special inner coating and pull-off-lid design creates finer bubbles that are said to enhance the flavour of the drink.

Plus, there’s the slice of fresh lemon inside, which the company says is a world-first innovation.

▼ It was odd but exhilarating to see the slice of fresh lemon float to the surface after opening the can.

Asahi says the way the lemon slice floats up to the surface is all part of the design, and it really helps to add a dash of excitement and entertainment to the drink.

The sight of the lemon alone helps to conjure up an izakaya vibe, and because of the wide mouth, you can experience the delicious, fresh scent of lemon before even taking a sip.

The Original Lemon Sour has a harmonious flavour, balancing out the sourness of the lemon with a dash of sweetness. It was a fantastic drink with a surprisingly refreshing flavour, and the high-quality taste made it seem like we were drinking from an ice-cold glass instead of a can.

▼ Time to try the Plain Lemon Sour.

Opening this one proved to be a different experience to the first can, as it bubbled and fizzed even before the lid was off.

We couldn’t get the lid off fast enough, leaving us with some spillage on the table. This was likely our fault, though, as the can wasn’t as cold as the first one, and we may have shaken it up during transit.

▼ For best results, be sure to chill the can down to 4-8 degrees Celsius (39-46 degrees Fahrenheit) before opening it.

Like the original, the lemon in this can also rose to the surface, but the mix here is less about harmony, with no added sweetness and a greater focus on bitterness, making it the preferred choice for fans of dry, bitter lemon sours.

Plucking the lemon out for a closer inspection revealed it had a thickness of about five millimetres (0.2 inches), and it imparted a great amount of bitterness on its own.

If this is the future of lemon sours, then we’re totally on board with it — not only did the drinks taste fantastic, with fine, creamy bubbles enhancing the flavour, but the lemon slices inside were fresh and like nothing we’ve ever seen before in a can.

Plus, with the original suited to first-timers and the plain primed for more seasoned fans of lemon sours, the tastes will suit a variety of palettes, particularly as the taste of lemon changes throughout the drink, becoming stronger as the liquid levels decrease. It’s a revelation in the world of lemon sours, and like these tipsy bar games based on bar food, it really is a great new way to bring the fun of an izakaya home with you!

Images © SoraNews24

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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