Japan from the inside out


Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 8, 2012

CLICK on the Food category on the left sidebar and you’ll discover that the Japanese enjoy experimenting with different fruits and vegetables as substitutes for the standards in all sorts of dishes, including snack foods and beverages. One part of this post, for example, presents the strawberry sake made in Shimanto, Kochi.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the people outside of Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Yoshihara Hideo has created and is selling a craft beer made from strawberries. Mr. Yoshihara quit his day job at a company at the age of 55 and decided he wanted to spend his days growing the fruit. He chose the Natsuotome variety developed by the prefecture’s agricultural research institute that reaches maturity in the summer and fall. After studying strawberry cultivation on his own, he built two greenhouses to produce them seven years ago, and is now the only man in town growing Natsuotome.

One of the characteristics of that variety is a hint of acidity inside the sweetness, and Mr. Yoshihara thought they might be suited for a beer that would appeal to the feminine palate. Well, it’s technically a low-malt beer-like sparkling beverage, because it doesn’t conform to the legal requirements for beer. No matter what it’s called, the function is surely identical.

Plenty of people like it. He made 700 bottles for sale through a liquor store last year and unloaded them all. Now he plans to make 1,000 this year. The alcohol content is 5%, and each 330 ml bottle costs JPY 600. That’s close to double what a regular bottle of beer that size would sell for.

If you’re in Japan and the idea of strawberry beer has you salivating, call the Yoshidaya liquor store in Tochigi at 0288-54-0167, and they’ll probably find a way to get you some.

Some years ago, Kuwata Keisuke and the Southern All Starts had a radio hit with a song called Melody, in which the singer praises his “hot strawberry lady”. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which are the adjectives and which are the nouns in that title. A cold strawberry beer and a hot strawberry lady sound as if they’d be an excellent combination, don’t you think?

No SAS version on YouTube, but here’s the Southern Band doing it live in Okinawa.

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