The first beer of Christmas starts here in Okinawa Japan. The Southern most province of Japan. In 1961 when Okinawa was still a Military Protectorate following the Second World War, Tadashi Matsuda started the the Helios Distillery. Originally he sought to “Produce a Product Made of the Finest Locally Grown Ingredients”. This product was initially rum made from the sugar cane that still grows on the island. Over the years the the company has expanded to producing sake and beers.
From the websites description the beer is made from malted barley, malted wheat and local Okinawan Shikuwasa. For those not familiar with the shikuwasa it is also known as Taiwan tangerine, Okinawa lime, flat lemon or thin skinned flat lemon. This citrus in native to the islands of Taiwan and Okinawa. The skin is dark green that ripens to a yellow color. The fruit has a low sweetness with a very sour flavor to the citrus.
Very quickly dissipating white head. Strong lemon citrus aroma on initial pour. Lemon lime flavor also caries through in the flavor. It almost taste like a lemon lime soda but there is a malt flavor that is present as well. The mouthfeel is very effervescent like a highly carbonated soda. Hops are very subdued in this beer with the only detection being a balance of the malt and citrus sweetness giving it a distinct finish. The citrus aroma lingers most on this beer. Slightly clear with a little bit of haze. Orange color and white quickly dissipating head. There is a lingering flavor of an orange creamsicle to the beer.
Even though this beer kicks off the 12 beers of Christmas I could see this as a great summer drink. I would definitely recommend this beer to anyone vacationing in Okinawa, especially now that the Japanese borders are beginning to open up again after COVID. This would be interesting to pair with a key lime pie. This pairing of similar flavors allows the two citrus flavors and aromas to compliment each other. This will enhance the citrus elements of both the beer and pie.
Beer Information: Can, Canning Date (none given), Expiration Date (04/23), Happoshu (less than 25% malt used in brewing), ABV 5%, SRM (none listed but would judge about an 8-10 SRM)
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