Noboribetsu Sweet Strawberry is a 6.5% fruit ale, brewed with Toyoura strawberries. There’s a tiny paragraph on the label that says how it won gold in the flavoured ale category in the Japan Asia Beer Cup 2008, which is about as important and relevant now as saying that it comes in a bottle and is a liquid. It has a shelf life of a whopping 3 months, so good luck finding it anywhere outside of Hokkaido.
I get the feeling that, much like the pomegranate beer I reviewed a couple of years back here, this beer is aimed at women. The label is even written in the cutesy curly font- you know, the font that appeared on the cover of every Bridget Jones ripoff novel in the early 2000s with titles like “Wendy’s Wild Weekend” or “Helen’s Eighty Boyfriends”. Ugh. Did you know the current Japanese craft beer market boom was the result of women in Japan buying and drinking it? They know their damn craft beer. Don’t patronise.
Noboribetsu Sweet Strawberry Nose and Taste
Anyway, another day, another bloody weird “wacky” beer from Hokkaido that I have to drink. Sweet Strawberry pours out thickly and opaque, but surprisingly sediment-free. There’s a pinkish-white head that settled down to half a centimetre of head. The beer itself is a great (or horrifying) deep pink colour. I’m convinced that there are strawberries in this.
As you would expect from such a preposterous-looking beer, it smells like a jammy lager. Well, maybe not a lager, but that’s the first thing that came to mind: a thin, dry, hoppy beer inbetween all the strawberry madness. It says it’s an ale, but you can’t just say it’s a thing and make it a thing. The bottle says “fruity and sweet, light-tasting”, and as far as that goes, they’re not wrong. As it warmed up it began to smell like a strawberry milkshake. OK, now I DEFINITELY think there are strawberries in this.
Noboribetsu Sweet Strawberry tastes primarily sticky and sweet. I know, urgh, right? it’s not awful, though. I was genuinely surprised that this was drinkable. I mean, it’s a flavoured beer from Hokkaido. But it didn’t make me want to vomit profusely. There are strawberries all up in this, but the beer is there too, though. There’s a hop bitterness and a slight maltiness to it. It’s lagery in the upper palate, and tastes of strawberries throughout, but in my opinion it’s pretty well balanced if you resign yourself to the fact that it’s going to be ridiculously sweet.
I’ve had a lot of stupid joke beers on this website (which I assume is my punishment for not writing enough- these are usually the ones left over that Rob doesn’t want to review), but this is one of the better ones. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the aforementioned Zakuro Arils, and it’s definitely a souvenir beer as opposed to a new-wave craft beer, but hey. I’m still enjoying this beer as I write.
Noboribetsu Sweet Strawberry: The Bottom Line
If you know what you’re getting into, this does exactly what it says on the bottle. Want a beer with strawberries in it, for some reason? Get this. Have you been given this beer by a coworker and are wondering whether it’ll burn a hole in your duodenum? Wonder no more. It’s alright.
Where to Buy Noboribetsu Sweet Strawberry
Noboribetsu Sweet Strawberry can be bought online at the following places: