Suntory Pumpkin Special
Ingredients: barley, hops, malt, sweeteners, pumpkin, artificial fragrance
Impervious Rex over at Modern Borefare and Pumpkin Daze kicked off his Pumpkin Beer countdown with Duclaw‘s 62 Imperial Pumpkin Ale. After reading his review, I have the impression that it was only a lackluster beer. But being in Japan, I would be thrilled to have even a lackluster selection of pumpkin beers.
Which leads me to Pumpkin Days, or as the kids call it, “Pumpin’ D’s.” I was super excited to see this beer in the local grocery store. I live in Akita, which is truly a craft beer town as it is home to Aqula, Tazawako, and Kohan no Mori (three of the BEST microbrew / craft beers north of the Sumida River) so the chances that this might actually be a good beer were initially rather high…
…then I saw “Suntory” on the side of the can. To be fair, Suntory has really jumped in katana-deep to the beer movement happening worldwide these past few years. Instead of just tweaking their main American style lager swill to give the appearance that it is “new” and “edgy” and “cool,” they actually have put out a line of beers called “Craft Select” which is a collection of about 4 beers. The beers are a Brown Ale, Special Bitter, Märzen, and a Pale Ale–I enjoy drinking them despite coming from the bowel of Big Beer. But here we have Pumpkin Special.
- Is this beer flat? By the time I poured my beer in the kitchen and sat down on my living room sofa, the head had all but disappeared. Drinking from a can, one wouldn’t notice, but from a cool glass like mine (see picture) it’s not too aesthetically pleasing.
- It has a nice color to it, but looks like a really thin, light beer.
- There is almost ZERO aroma or bouquet.
- Is this candy? Wow–really sweet taste right in the front of my mouth and the tip of my tongue. It’s not offensive or off-putting, but I would not associate the taste with any autumnal beer that I have known to grow and love. I wouldn’t say it was pumpkin-flavored.
- Where did the pumpkin go? Once it moves to the back of your mouth there is little to no taste. When it’s swallowed there is no aftertaste.
- As I finished the glass, I felt as though the taste was lingering longer and longer in my mouth, which isn’t bad, but it took a long time to get there. The sweetness didn’t make my stomach turn, but I wonder how many of these I could drink. Would I be nauseous? How would the next day be? It’s the type of sweetness I would expect from soda, but not one I have ever had in beer before.
Hey, nice package!
I’ll attempt to decipher the can for you. As you can see in my photo above, Suntory has really taken the Halloween thing to the max here. On the left of the can you’ve got the haunted mansion with a witch flying on a broom (after a long day of delivering packages, no doubt). Under that Halloweeny image, are two big, fat orange pumpkins, the likes of which I’ve only seen in Japan once. Japan has a massive agricultural sector, so no doubt someone, somewhere grows Halloween-pumpkins, they’re just not the norm like they are back home in the States.
In the image of the poured-beer in a glass, the head is frothing over the rim–nope, that’s not happening in my glass.
Under that it says, panpukin fūmi no honnori amayakana kaori to koku (slightly sweetened aroma, pumpkin flavored body). hmmm… It is certainly sweet tasting.
Ah–then there it is: the happōshu label. To cut & paste from Wikipedia, happōshu “is a tax category of Japanese liquor that most often refers to a beer-like beverage with less than 67% malt content. The alcoholic beverage is popular among consumers for having a lower tax than beverages that the nation’s law classifies as ‘beer.'” It’s usually frowned upon by beer purists, but, it’s cheap. It’s basically like a classy Colt 45.
In closing: I’ve been in Japan for almost six years now and I rarely ever see pumpkins over here like the one’s that have inspired things like pumpkin baked-goods, pumpkin spice lattes, and pumpkin beers. There are Japanese pumpkins that are super hard, have thin green skins and nice soft orange insides–but they are hardly like the big ol’ orange pumpkins that we have back in North America. So, where did Suntory get their pumpkins to make this?! The Halloween packaging screams #culturalappropriation #wherestheoutrage !!
I would not drink these on a regular basis.
Rating: 1 Pumpkin out of 5