An interesting side effect of the bitter competition between Japanese breweries is that they tend to throw anything and everything out into the market and see what sticks. With beer the competition ground zero is convenience stores, and as a result you find new interesting beers at your local Lawson, 7-11 or Family Mart, rather than at dedicated liquor stores.

And not just cheap swill either; this is a test market for upscale products as well. If it sells well enough at the konbini, it may eventually show up in your regular store. Most products don't sell well enough of course, and soon disappear without a trace.

Tonights beers are Grand Kirin and Suntory The Royal Bitter. They're both "Limited Edition" lager beers with an unusually high alcohol content of 6%. To me the Grand Kirin is the winner. It balances thickness, astringency and alcohol very well, and feels like a unified whole; unusual in a pale beer with such high alcohol. The Royal Bitter is, as the name suggest, quite bitter with a hoppy feel that I like. But it lacks the balance of Grand Kirin and the alcohol shines through more than I like. It feels a little forced.

To me, Grand Kirin is the clear winner, and I'd happily drink it again given the chance.
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