Super Beer Bowl: Okinawa Edition, Okinawa Sango Brewery, IPA & Kölsch

This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday. For those not living in the United States it is a time when the country comes together in-front of televisions for one of two reasons. Either they are there to watch the final football game of the season or they are there to watch the commercials between the plays. Either way family and friends get together to watch and eat normally unhealthy food. To wash this food down, beer normally accompanies the food and entertainment.

When I decided to write this post I had great expectations that I would pick a beer from each of the competing teams home town and do a head to head competition between them. Living in Japan quickly snapped me back into reality. I decided to pick one brewery from Okinawa and pick two beer styles that represent the competing teams. The Los Angelas Rams was an easy choice. India Pale Ales have been long associated with the west coast and specifically Southern California. While not originating in the area their prominence in the region has made IPA an easy link to an LA team. For Cincinnati Bengals I chose to go with a Kölsch. This German style beer would have been quite common with the earliest German immigrants to the state of Ohio.

Sango Beer is made by the Nanto Sake Brewery in Nanjo, Okinawa. Their claim to fame is using coral water which they draw from a 100m well. In addition to IPA and Kölsch styles they also make an Alt, Black Ale and a Saison.

Kolsch 5% ABV: Bready dough like yeast aromas on the nose. Floral fruit hops aroma. The beer has a white head that dissipates quickly to leave a thin film of a head on the surface with a heavier rim of bubbles around the glass. Golden color with somewhat clear color. Just barely unable to read a newspaper by looking through the glass. Carbonation on the mouthfeel. More of a pronounced flavor of malt than what is seen in a light lager. Flavors are similar to lagers, but the Kölsch malt flavor is more bold. Crisp finish on the end of the sip. Slight lingering malty sweetness on the aftertaste that leaves the sipper to want another taste. And floral hop aroma resonates through the nasal passage.

IPA, 5% ABV: Strong piney resin is the dominant aroma. Light amber color. Rocky off white persistent head. Hops are the initial flavor that is picked up but a strong malt flavor quickly follows to give the beer a good balance. I am quite supprised that the listed ABV is only 5% for this beer. With the strong malt flavor to balance the dominant hops I would have expected the beer to finish much higher gravity. The label mentioned a “citrus fragrance” but I definitely got more of a pine resin fragrance. Still enjoyable, but just different. Full body mouthfeel. In the aftertaste there is a lingering bitterness on the back of the tongue that borders on sour.

Both beers are enjoyable by themselves. But like the Super Bowl there has to be a clear winner. I enjoyed the Kölsch for its easy drinkability, but also to give a strong malt flavor profile. The IPA was enjoyable as a bitter refreshing example of the IPA style. Just as football games are not won by a single play. I cannot make a determination on just one beer. For this head to head I would pick the Kölsch over the IPA for my ability to drink multiple beers of this style without wrecking my pallet. I guess that means my prediction is Cincinnati for the win, but this whole thing is less scientific than a coin flip. Let’s see how this post ages.

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