Summer means peaches! And they’re good here, but will do they make for good beer? Let’s find out – first up is the Minoh seasonal Kokusan Momo Weizen (国産桃ヴァイツェン – translates to Domestic Peach Weizen), followed by the Michinoku Fukushima Beer Peach Ale.
Minoh Kokusan Momo Weizen (箕面国産桃ヴァイツェン)
Package: 330mL bottle
Pour – Fair amount of carbonation, very light cloudy gold (like apple/peach juice)
Aroma – Lots of banana and wheat with hint of bubble gum
Flavor – Very spicy and spritzy, strange (interesting?) flavor progression that starts wheaty, then goes to a slightly tart peach juice phase, then transitions to a spicy banana finish, some peach on finish, peppery
The Minoh Kokusan Momo Weizen is a summer seasonal, and one of their most popular ones. In fact, when I purchased mine at Deguchiya there was a limit of one per customer! It’s based on their regular weizen, but in addition they take fresh peaches picked on that day, puree them, and then brew the peach weizen.
The peaches they use here are a very particular kind of peach – they are “Arakawa no momo” (あら川の桃) peaches from Wakayama, and grown by Hakki Farm (八旗農園). The term “Arakawa no momo” is actually a term trademarked by a group of producers in Wakayama, and covers a few varieties of white peaches. White peaches in general in Japan are very excellent, and I find them to much more sweet and juicy than their counterparts in the US. Alas, these peaches come with a price – they’re certainly not cheap. They’ll run from at least around 600 yen for good ones, and even about 500 yen each for what they like to call “wake-ari” (訳あり), which is essentially like those irregular clothes you might find on sale at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. On the plus side, these peaches are good enough to make sushi out of, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Moving on to the beer, it’s certainly an interesting one. The single most prominent aspect of it is its spiciness, which is hard to say whether that’s a good thing or not. It’s spicy at the start, spicy in the middle, and very spicy on the finish. The peach itself manifests itself in a bit of an odd way, where the initial wheat starts to give way to a sudden burst of tart sweetness that isn’t really peach-like and isn’t entirely pleasant, and moves quickly on to a very peppery banana and peach finish that almost burns the throat.
Overall I don’t think it’s a great beer, but I certainly give them credit for trying. Visually it’s a nice beer, with a very appealing peach juice color, a nice shimmering cascade leg effect on swirling, and a pleasing amount of carbonation, but the flavor doesn’t do it for me. Worth trying once at least, but I don’t think I’ll be ordering this one up again anytime soon.
Michinoku Fukushima Beer Peach Ale (みちのく福島路ビールピーチエール)
Package: 330mL bottle
Pour – Mild carbonation, cloudy deep gold
Aroma – Medicinal, sugar, caramel
Flavor – Medicine is strong, is that peat???, slight hint of peach near the finish, spicy
Last time we looked another Michinoku Fukushima beer (the Red Ale), so if you’re you’ll find a bit of background on them there. For the Peach Ale, there isn’t a lot of beer-specific information out there besides their product page, which tells you that they use Fukushima peaches in this beer (as we covered in the previous review, they radiation test all of their ingredients if you are concerned about that). Interestingly it appears to be a year-round beer, whereas in real life peaches are only available for a couple of months in the summer here.
With the Peach Ale, we get another odd one – this one is mostly overwhelmed by a medicinal gauze effect, and peat as well. You’d think was a Scotch ale, and while there is a slight sweet and spicy finish it’s hard to detect the peach amidst the medicinal flavors. Definitely not a winner, and certainly not worth the price (620 yen at Le Collier!).
Unfortunately our two peach beers today were not the greatest, but certainly for the curious you may want to give them a shot. The Minoh Kokusan Momo Weizen definitely works better than the Michinoku Fukushima Peach Ale (which is really hard to recommend under any circumstances), but as someone who is not a huge Minoh fan to begin with this beer didn’t really do much to change my opinion of them. I suppose the moral of the story is peaches are great in Japan, peach beers not so much – personally I’d rather save my money for the real thing (although of course we eagerly await new entrants to the arena!).