There's been so many things going on in chuhai land, I'm starting to want to just drink chuhai and forget. This is the biggest Chuhai Watch since I started this site! Let's get caught up.
- From Asahi first up is Mogitate Lychee, a seasonal release coming on March 6. I personally find Lychee much easier to stomach than plum, so I'll probably be checking this one out. It's 9% abv and available in 350ml or 500ml.
- Asahi has also announced an entirely new line of chuhais dubbed "Asahi Zeitaku Shibori," which roughly translates as "luxury squeeze." You may have already had a luxury squeeze or two in your life, but have you ever thought of what that would be like... in a can? Asahi has your answer. There are three flavors in this initial lineup, all with an awful lot of real fruit juice: lemon (14% fruit juice, so an entire lemon's worth), grapefruit (41% fruit juice, half a grapefruit), and peach (31% fruit juice, half a peach). All are 4% abv and available in 350ml or 500ml sizes. If you've ever been to an izakaya and ordered a "namashibori" lemon sour, which uses real fruit juice, rather than just a standard lemon sour, you already know how much of a difference this makes for chuhai. These all come out on March 20.
- For anyone travelling up to Hokkaido this spring, you may want to keep an eye out for Black Nikka Highball Kaoru Yoru ("highball-scented night"). While obviously it's not a chuhai, it is a Hokkaido-only vanilla-heavy aromatic blend of Nikka's Coffey grain and Yoichi malt whiskies, specifically crafted for a relaxing night. It comes along April 3rd at 9% abv.
- Suntory brings along two new Horoyoi flavors: Fruit Punch and Citrus Sour. The former is a tropical blend of pineapple, mango, and apple, and the latter is grapefruit, lemon, lime, and orange. Both are 3% abv and drop on April 17. Should be a nice fruity start to your early summer!
- Speaking of Hokkaido, Suntory is bring a Kokushibori Premium Zeitaku Melon on April 24. While it's being released nationwide as a season-limited, it uses a cantaloupe-based liqueur and white wine mix. 5% abv at 350ml.
- Last up from Suntory is the -196°C Strong Zero Bitter Grape. We've seen plenty of Bitter varieties of Strong Zero, but grape never really occur to me as bitter? In any case this is a brand first so could be worth a try. April 24, 9% abv in 350ml or 500ml sizes.
- Tabisuru Hyoketsu Grapefruit Dog is the latest entry in the very successful Tabisuru Hyoketsu series from Kirin. It uses grapefruit juice with a pinch of salt that will hopefully resemble a proper Salty Dog. 3% abv and comes out on March 20.
- Kirin Honshibori Chuhai Pineapple comes with a whopping 42% real fruit juice. Dare I say this may be the most pinepple-y chuhai ever. It's coming out on April 17 at 5% abv.
- This year we again see Kirin Hyoketsu Golden Mix, which uses Golden Pineapple (the fruit, not the weed), Shinano Gold apples, and Gold Kiwi. Seems it did quite well last year so they haven't changed the mixture at all. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. This year it's seeing a season-limited release from April 24.
- Kirin themselves have a new lineup of chuhais that focus on being "hard," so it's been appropriately named "Kirin The STRONG." Lemon, Dry, and Cola flavors will all be available at 9% abv from April 10. HARD here refers to strong carbonation, hard umami, "hard flavor" which is apparently using some patent-pending flavor extraction process, and hard alcohol. Market research indicates that while the RTD market has grown to 1.5x the size since 2010, RTDs in the 7-9% abv range have grown to 2.5x in the same period. The target audience is males in their 40s and 50s. Perhaps this is why Japanese domestic beer sales are down? Chuhais are both cheaper and stronger.