In Japan, the most popular brand of beer is Asahi Super Dry, so it was big news when the company decided to change its recipe for the first time ever last year.
We like to keep our stocks of the beer in good supply, so we’d never gotten around to trying the new version until this week, when we were just about to open our final cans containing the original formula. In order to fully savor and appreciate this special no-longer-available beer, we decided to compare it to the new version that’s now on the market, and just by looking at the cans themselves we could tell they were totally different.
▼ New version (left), original version (right)
There didn’t seem to be any major difference in terms of calories and alcohol content — the only difference was a warning on the old version (marked in red, below) that read: “A dry draft beer with a smooth and sharp taste.”
Asahi Super Dry has been satisfying the country’s thirst for beer with this smooth and sharp taste since it was first released in 1987, so it seemed crazy to mess with a good thing. Our reporter K Masami was particularly dubious about the new beer, so she took charge of the tasting duties, pouring each one into a glass for a visual check.
Although the new beer looks slightly darker in the photo above, in reality the hues looked the same. With no major difference in terms of hue, it was now time to check the taste.
Starting with the new formula, Masami took a sip and was surprised to find that it tasted like the same Asahi Super Dry she’s been drinking for years. It was refreshing, with a gentle bitterness and light texture that made it incredibly easy to drink.
Next, she took a sip of the original beer, and that’s when the difference in flavor came to the fore. This beer tasted entirely different, with a more rounded flavor and a much stronger bitterness. She’d never noticed the beer’s bitter quirk or how dry the formula was until now, when comparing it to the new formula, which seemed much lighter and easier to drink by comparison.
Even if you take into account that the old beer has been out of production for a while, the difference was obvious. Masami had always thought that the Super Dry’s selling point was its ease of drinking, but as it turns out it did have a sharp bitterness that may have been too strong for first-timers.
For the record, Masami’s personal preference is for the original, which had a more robust flavour, but she can see the appeal of the fresh new formula, which is markedly more accommodating for people who aren’t used to drinking beer.
In that sense, the new formula lines up with Asahi’s promotional spiel for it, which stated that it “improves the drinking experience”. We’re curious to find out whether it’ll last for decades like the original version, because with Asahi now releasing a new low-alcohol spinoff, it looks like the company is focussing on the future rather than the past.
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