As spring approaches here in Japan cleaning our house has taken center stage as we say goodbye to winter. As I was cleaning the refrigerator I found a beer hiding in the back behind the well expired left overs that were starting to take on the features of a misguided science experiment. During Christmas I received Helios Brewery’s Santa Beer a Christmas Beer. A mix of working through the Twelve Beers of Christmas and just forgetting it was there I found myself with a Christmas Beer in April. Helios is a brewery located in the central part of Okinawa. They started as a rum distillery made from sugar cane which grows abundantly on the island. They expanded into Shochu (a distilled beverage traditionally made from rice) and Awamari ( a local Okinawan distilled rice beverage). In 1996 the brewery obtained their license to brew beer.
Christmas Beer 7% ABV
The beer has a strong malt sweetness to start with. A toasted malt scent reminds me of the aromas similar to caramunich or crystal malt. It comes across as a great smell. Similar to walking into a brewery just as the brewer mashes in the grains to the warm water of the mash tun. The beer has a nice amber color and is fairly clear. The head is deep tan colored and has persistent bubbles coming up the side of the glass. These bubbles continually reenergizing a persistent head. The head consist of bubbles that are small and tiny. When the small bubbles burst the head opens up only to be filled by the continuous bubbles from the bottom of the glass. After multiple deep inhales, the earthy hop aroma comes through. The tastes is very balanced between the malty sweetness and a gentle bitterness from the hops that balance the taste. The beer is fully attenuated and there is not a full mouthfeel. The carbonation leaves a tingle in the mouth in the aftertaste. Good bit of carbonation gives a sharp finish to the end of the taste. There was no real aroma or flavor of Christmas spices. While there is not a Christmas Because of this I would call this beer more of a dopplebock than a Christmas beer. There were no Christmas spices that are normally found in American Christmas beers.
I tried this beer with walnuts, dried apricots and sharp cheddar cheese. The walnuts gave the aroma I would associate with a mountain cabin that was just walked into after a long winter left vacant. The sweetness of the dried apricots was amplified with the beer malt sweetness. It made this pairing almost too bitter from the sweetness. A sharp cheddar was well balanced between the malty sweetness and milky sharp mouthfeel of the cheddar. The cheese cleared the palate of sweetness and hop bitter finish. Of the three I liked the cheese Sharp cheddar to balance with this beer. Overall enjoyable beer that I slowly consume on a cold winters night.
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