Japan is pretty well known for creating things with very unusual flavors. From Cucumber soda to mayonnaise and wasabi chips to fish ice cream to black garlic beer it sometimes seems that nothing is too weird for this country. So it wasn’t too shocking when hop flavored sparkling water appeared. Even though it isn’t beer, I knew I had to cover it for this blog.
Suntory is one of the beverage giants of Japan. Their most famous line of products is probably their whiskeys, which as you may recall were featured in the film Lost in Translation. They are also one of the four major players of domestic Japanese beer, along with Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo. In addition to their lines of alcohol Suntory has a vast family of soft drinks and sodas, including Dakara sports drink and the France originating Orangina orange flavored soda. Green Shower Hop Water is one of the newest additions to their line up.
Hops and beer are of course one of the greatest culinary pairings in the history of food, but aside from beer I have not heard of many other uses for hops. While the thought of hop flavored sparkling water is unusual, I actually found the Green Shower to be quite nice. Thinking about it, the idea makes some sense. Hops are known for bringing a variety of citrus and pine flavors to beer, and certainly citrus flavored sparkling water is already very popular. This lets the mad mass market wizards at Suntory create a new and unique sparkling water with a little extra hook for the marketing department to hang on to. What they came up with is bizarre in a very Japanese way, with a giant fuzzy hop monster paired with a cute young woman in all the print and video ads.
As befits its hoppy legacy, Green Shower smells of lime and pine with an unmistakeable hop aroma. Despite that, tastes nothing like beer. The hops have been used with a very light touch. This is not India Pale Ale the Water. It tastes rather like a lime Perrier with a hint of gin like pine to it. I found it quite refreshing, though not all of my friends and compatriots have agreed with me. The one real bummer is that Green Shower can be hard to find. It shows up in many Suntory branded vending machines, but its presence in convenience stores is sparse. I hope it catches on in popularity, and I really hope that it isn’t a limited time flavor. Seasonal and limited time food flavors are a huge thing here, and it is always tragic when they inevitably disappear forever.
Speaking of limited editions, while the seasons are a popular excuse for introducing a limited edition flavor/ sandwich/ beer style, really any excuse will do. The soon to be concluded World Cup has inspired a host of interesting things, from import beer displays to really excellent McDonalds Sandwiches. One event that has sparked a lot of for us here in Gunma has been the recent listing of the Tomioka Silk Mills as a World Heritage Site. Both Suntory and Asahi have commemorated the listing with special beer cans, though the beer in the cans is just the usual. It is still a fun way to mark an occasion that has hopefully made Gunma just a little bit more famous!
Have you tried Green Shower? Whats your favorite limited time Japanese food? Leave a comment below!