Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: Asahi x Kagome 'red eye' beer with tomato juice.
The 'red eye' cocktail - if it counts as one - isn't new. It's a suggested hangover cure... when made with a raw egg. Yuck. Some recipes include vodka, which to me would be the more natural alcohol to mix with tomato.
Asahi and Kagome came up with something a little different (link in Japanese only). The 'red eye' that just consists of chucking some tomato juice into a can of beer. Nice and convenient.
This version first appeared in 2012 as a limited edition, and seems to be back for good. No more 'lim-ed' on the can, anyway. Hard to believe it was ever that popular. There are whole fridges at the convenience store for hangover cures, and they don't include this one.
The partnership with Kagome is also recent. There used to be doubts about whether Asahi used real tomato juice in their first 'red eye'. Kagome's reputation for fruit and veg drinks has put those fears to rest.
I should be careful about calling this a 'beer cocktail', because it's labelled 'happoshu' (発泡酒). Literal meaning: foaming/sparkling alcohol. A word that applies to low-malt drinks - some of them don't contain malt at all. A bit like 'sparkling wine' being a cop-out when you're too broke for champagne.
Those more serious about their beverages don't class happoshu as real beer.
Luckily for me, the prominent 'o-sake' (お酒) symbol on the front confirms I didn't pick up a non-alcoholic beer by accident. Again.
The mix is 20% tomato juice. Should make for a reasonable tomato-to-beer ratio.
And, as pointed out in the white circle, this can contains the equivalent of... a whole tomato. So, 1 of your recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg per day. Because that's what you consider when drinking!
There's more. The other thing you should read on the can is the 'shake before opening' bit. Not violently, but firmly. Just 2 or 3 times. Enough that you'll be fairly sure the tomato juice is mixed in properly.
I did not read that before opening the can. I opened the can, remembered I hadn't taken enough photos of the can, turned it around, and THEN saw the 'shake before opening' bit.
To try and fix it, I dumped the whole lot into a pint glass.
The colour isn't too strong. Not as dark red as I was expecting at all. It could be mistaken for a particularly golden malt if you were drunk enough.
The tomato was weak on first taste, I assumed because I hadn't shaken it. After a bit of a stir, the taste was exactly the same. That's how far one tomato will get you.
It's... drinkable. A lack of malt, chilled temperature, and the weak flavour of Asahi beer create something akin to watered-down gazpacho. I wouldn't want to drink this while hungover.
Verdict: 4/10. You say 'to-ma-to', and I say 'meh'.