As somebody once said (it may well have been Billy Connelly) one of the major features of the Saturnalian celebrations in Britain is that you get to drink all kinds of exotic and sometimes really unpleasant, booze you wouldn’t touch the rest of the year. When I was a lad in Sheffield this meant Advokaat, Cherry Heering And Drambuie. (I seem to think we referred to it as Dram-Spewy).
But these days, international sophisticate that I am, I turn my gaze to the Japanese supermarket in Little Tokyo.
First there was this Iwate Kura Bakushu Oyster Stout (above), “stout brewed with oysters” as it says on the label, to hammer home the message. Now language, especially translated language, is always a bit of a minefield. There are some “oysters stouts” which are simply stouts meant to be drunk with oysters, which is fair enough, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I’m assumed the label means “using oysters” as opposed to “containing oysters,” though I could be wrong. Don’t the brewers of cider always swear that the occasional dead rat improves the flavor no end?
So I’m guessing that the good folks at Iwate Kura use oyster shells in the fining of the stout, the way others use isinglass to clarify beer and wine, though I have yet to see a bottle of Pinot Grigio with the words “made with the swim bladders of fish” on the label.
How did it taste? Well frankly a bit thin and one note, and not much of a head, but it was nice enough: it would have gone well with some oysters.
And then there’s the above, and I honestly don’t really know what it is even having drunk it. The website says, “Sparkling fun in a can - shake it up! IKEZO, a sake-based sparkling jelly drink unlike other beverages. Each flavor has its own unique deliciousness along with supplements good for your skin.” This one seemed kind of lemony, but peach and mixed berry flavors are also available.
It is, I suppose, a kind of alcoholic jelly, but I wasn’t sure how jellied it was meant to be. The can sternly said to shake more than 20 times, and in fact I shook it about 40 times, but I don’t know if that was really enough, and it came out as a semi-liquid with jellied lumps in it, which may or may not have been the idea - tasted just fine though. Not sure if I can wait till the next Saturnalia to try the mixed berry flavor.