Shimane Zakuro Arils is a blonde ale by Matsue Beer Hearn in Shimane. It’s made with pomegranate purée, and has been created to appeal specifically to the female market. Pomegranate is supposedly beneficial during pregnancy, and I guess that’s all the excuse you need to throw one in a beer and call it a ladies’ beer for ladylike ladies.
Well, here we go again. It seems like Rob has given me this beer deliberately to tear apart. I’ve previously gone into the bullshit that is labelling, and in the past have lambasted breweries for going after the ji-beer (NOT craft beer) market with gimmicky colours and ingredients. And now this. THISSSS. A pomegranate ale with a stuck-on label proclaiming it to be “for grown up ladies”? Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break. We’re two for two right there.
The last beer I had from Hearn was really nice- here it is. This one? We shall see. I’m writing this furious introduction at work right now, and am going to make some predictions. If it’s bad, I proclaim that this will taste either:
A) nothing like pomegranate but instead some other ingredient;
B) pomegranate but nothing like a beer and more like a shandy; or
C) just like a revolting chuhai.
I don’t have high hopes for it. If I did, it could fall into one of two categories-
1. The ingredients are there but in all the wrong proportions, or
2. It’s actually not half bad.
I’m guessing it’ll be either A) or 1.
So, let’s teach 4 more hours of kids, drive home, get changed, check on the terrapin I found on the beach yesterday (his name is Salty), eat dinner, and open this sucker up!
Shimane Zakuro Arils Aroma and Taste
Shimane Zakuro Arils pours out like a Pilsner, with a brilliantly bright white head and a faintly fruity nose. I wasn’t expecting it to look, well, normal, to be honest. Rob and I were both expecting it to be a cringeworthy pink, to go with the can I suppose.
Tasting it, there’s a definite dryness and sourness to Shimane Zakuro Arils. Pomegranate isn’t the most overpowering of fruits, but it seems to be just right at providing an essential flavouring, much in the way hops are used for bittering in the brewing process.
Speaking of hops, the ones used in this are relatively rare. Named Gargoyle- and apparently copyrighted- they’re a new breed of California Cluster hops which have been revived after being unavailable for over half a century. They impart a citrusy, mango flavour, which of course melded well with the sour pomegranate.
I have to admit, I’m surprised with this one. Very surprised. My predictions were way off (I’m still better than your average psychic though). Despite being strictly fucking diesel in the carbonation department, this is actually a very drinkable beer. It goes down smoothly, with little antagonism from either the hops or the pomegranate. It’s well balanced too, and puts me in mind of how Baird make their fruit beers- with the fruit contributing its essence rather than its entire character. Does that make sense? I mean that you drink it and think “this beer tastes as a pomegranate would, were it a beer” rather than “argh blargh who put all this pomegranate in this beer?”. I’m sorry, I’m so very tired. I had a Russian mother watch my class today, it was quite stressful.
Let’s have a look at this can while I can still focus (is “looking at the label” becoming my thing now?). Wow, they’re really going all out on the female market here. The label (which I will reiterate is kinda cheaply glued onto the can rather than printed) lists the spurious health benefits pomegranate bestows on your female appendages should you decide to eat seven kilos of them a day. There are also some suggestions for mixing Shimane Zakuro Arils with cassis, just in case the beery-weery is too scary for dainty little women and their pretty little heads. So, patronising? Yep. Gimmicky? You betcha. Shimane Zakuro Arils matches Beer Hearn’s modus operandi (tourist trap beer) to a T, but strangely enough, it’s no worse for it. Beer Hearn has the ability, as we have seen, to survive the first wave of the craft beer boom and continue into the second.
Shimane Zakuro Arils One line Review
What a surprise! A Ji-beer made with fruit that isn’t disgusting. Ignore the ludicrous branding, this is a beer for everyone.
Where to Buy Shimane Zakuro Arils
Shimane Zakuro Arils can be bought at:
Shimane Zakuro Arils Second Opinion by Rob
Joe doesn’t always got the dodgy beers to review, but I let him drink them as punishment for not writing enough. I’ve not had much experience with pomegranates and have always found them quite a peculiar fruit. The pungent bitter aroma came through strongly but the lack of pinkness to my beer was disappointing. Where was the tacky gaudy colours?! Shimane Zakuro Arils actually smelt of fruit and pomegranates too (I went out and bought one especially for this review). The body was crisp and sweet with a slight fruity edge of mangos and pomegranates to it that was soothing and made it very easy drinking. I would happily drink more of these except that I would be worried about the female advertising on the side confusing people. Oh, Japan – why do you insist on marketing beers to gender?