Hansharo Sumeragi is a 10% Barleywine from Hansharo Beer, based in Shizuoka, Japan. It’s part of their winter seasonal lineup though it was first released in December 2016. The most peculiar thing about Hansharo Sumeragi is that there is a best before date of May 2017 – barleywines can usually be kept for longer than six months so the flavours develop or mellow out. There is also a lack of information about the beer on the Hansharo Blog and also no listing on their homepage – does this beer even exist?!
Hansharo Sumeragi Aroma and Taste
First things first – I didn’t know what I was buying when I picked this up from Le Petit L’Ouest in Shimokitazawa – I saw it was 10% but seeing as it was late winter when I came across Hansharo Sumeragi, I was hoping for an imperial stout or something similar. It poured out looking like someone had bottled up some muddy water from the local playground and added some extra soil in there just for extra measure too. It had no resemblance of head on top, besides a couple of large bubbles that popped quickly and the nose was a faint caramel like aroma with a lot of booziness coming through – even when chilled. Of course, letting it warm up was the first thing on my mind, so I did some other reviews, coming back to Hansharo Sumeragi intermittetnly, only to find the booziness growing more and more but some complex dark fruits of raisins and plums came through.
The body was far softer and less abrasive than an American barleywine, so either less hops went into making Hansharo Sumeragi than expected, or the yeast had done a great job in stripping back some of the harsh flavours. The caramel and toffee flavours were the most dominant, though the dark fruits made an appearance again once it had warmed up. Hansharo Sumeragi was quite flat, perhaps deliberately slow, and could have done with just a tad more to lift some of the flavours up. It ended up leaving a sticky toffee taste on the tongue, that faded fast.
Hansharo Sumeragi The Bottom Line
Hansharo Sumeragi is definitely an English barleywine through and through – it’s not bad but needs more adjusting with some of the flavours to make them more balanced.