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Gold Master: Strong craft beer just in time for the heat

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Whither craft beer? Possibly on convenience store shelves, though in small numbers.

The last two years saw the big konbini players make significant space for artisanal suds, whether from actual craft breweries (in some cases owned by large octopus-like conglomerates) or attempts by major brands.

Yet along comes Gold Master, an entry in the Lawson Select series at the convenience store of the same name. It shoots back at the higher-end creations of the last few years with a low price tag (¥108 for a 350-ml can, ¥148 for 500 ml) and the promise of a pretty decent amount of alcohol — 6 percent, putting it pretty much in the same ball park as products costing two to three times as much.

The key different comes with taste. Gold Master tastes like most low-end beers, except with a slight stinging sensation at the end of every sip thanks to the extra alcohol punch (ironically, making it more like a craft beer than, say, a regular Asahi or Sapporo can). But this is not a product where flavor is key — it’s designed to be consumed easily, ideally on a warm day.

And, honestly, bless it for that, as Lawson recognizes that downing two IPAs on a sunny afternoon will just lead to you sprawled out, reflecting on your life. You can seek craft brews out when you want them, but sometimes, you just want a relatively easy-to-drink beer that doesn’t make you rethink lunch in the process.