We find out if it enjoying salt and pepper in a beer is best left to the professionals or not.

As a young child, beer and black pepper were two tastes that I loathed, so it’s odd that those are now two flavors I quite enjoy. Especially black pepper, which I’ll sprinkle on anything I get my hands on including, much to the chagrin of most Japanese people who still tolerate my company for doing so, a nice bowl of plain rice.

But mixing pepper and beer never occurred to me, mainly because they seem to do fine on their own. However, a subsidiary of Suntory, Innovative Brewer, is daring to be different by adding a dose of salt and black pepper to their Gourmet Beer brand.

On the one hand, this drink is uncomfortably reminiscent of that one kid in junior high who would drink a disgusting soda filled with salt, pepper, ketchup, and mustard for two bucks. On the other hand, both beer and pepper have a certain bitter sharpness to them that could pair up well.

To find out, I headed down to the local Family Mart, where this stuff can be found in most Kansai, Chubu, and Kanto prefectures, and bought a can for 288 yen (US$2.60).

According to Innovative Brewer, the salt used is Alpen Salz, harvested from a layer of natural rock salt in the spa town of Bad Reichenhall at the foot of the Eastern Alps in Germany. This, along with black pepper with its skin peeled to give it more zing, is simmered in the wort. After that, lime peels are added for extra flavor before the remainder of the brewing takes place.

▼ I know all this because they wrote it right on the can.

Well la-dee-da, but I don’t care if its the finest salt and pepper in the world. If you start dumping it in my beverages, I’m going to be angry. But Innovative Brewer seem confident they’ve found a way, so let’s see how it tastes.

At first sip I couldn’t detect anything out of the ordinary. There was a noticeable hint of lime, but otherwise it tasted like a regular beer. After a few more sips I could just barely detect some peppery flavor in the aftertaste. Subtle but pleasant.

However, a few gulps later a powerful belch was conjured, and as it rose back up the esophagus it brought with it a bouquet of distinctly peppery aroma that filled the mouth. It was very savory and rich but not very spicy — the lime seemed to subdue that, and the pepper’s inherent bitterness mixed with that of the beer very well.

By the end, the pepper flavor was much more prominent but in harmony with the beer overall. In the end I would say it was a good beer, but not one that I’d probably go out of my way to get again. If you’re looking for a change of pace in your own beer consumption, it’s well worth a shot.

That being said, this is a very limited release, and chances are you might not be able to get a hand on a can of Innovative Brewer Gourmet Beer yourself depending on where you are. This begs the question: why not just put salt and pepper in a beer yourself?

Even if its not fancy Bavarian salt, and not added during the brewing process, logic would dictate that the inherent flavors of these seasonings would still go with beer. So I picked up a can of regular old Asahi Super Dry for 207 yen ($1.86) along with some salt and pepper.

I was surprised to learn that this particular bottle of salt had come from Mexico, so this DIY blend will have its own exotic roots after all!

I decided to add the salt first, but the biggest challenge is in the amount. With no clue and going purely on instinct, I poured in a small amount.

The salt caused the beer to foam up, which I wasn’t expecting at all. I should have paid more attention in science class. I used my mouth to catch the runoff foam and got a salty kick from it that was actually quite pleasant.

After it died back down, I added a similar amount of pepper. Interestingly, in contrast to the salt, the pepper seemed to cause the head to dissipate faster.

However, also unlike the salt, it would not dissolve into the beer and just kind of floated around.

Maybe I was still buzzing off the previous beer, but I was rather amused by the effect it created. It was like tiny little flakes of gold twirling and dancing around in the beverage.

It might not look it from the picture above, but drinking this was quite a pleasant surprise too. The salt and pepper seemed to somehow give the beer a more creamy texture than usual. It also had that same pepper aftertaste as the Gourmet Beer, but this time the pepper was much sharper and burned my throat a little.

Also in the same way, the pepper taste grew stronger the more I drank. However, this time I think it was more because all of the pepper was settling to the bottom and grew more dense.

Although I was honestly expecting this concoction to be heinous, it really wasn’t bad at all. If I ever try it again, I might use about half as much pepper and focus more on the salt.

In conclusion, both Innovative Brewer Gourmet Beer Salt and Pepper and just putting salt and pepper into a beer turned out to be surprisingly tasty, but definitely more of a one-time experience than something you’d want on a regular basis.

If you want a more refined and nuanced pepper feeling in your beer, then you should trust the professionals at Innovative Brewer. But if you want it quick, dirty, and packing a punch, then go ahead and make one on your own. Unlike elephant poop coffee beer, this one’s not a health risk or animal rights violation to try by yourself!

Source: Entabe
Photos: SoraNews24