One of the first glimmers of spring is the appearance of this seasonal beverage that uses real cherry blossom petals and leaves.

As I type this in the dead of winter with a blizzard quite literally howling outside my window, any thought of spring still seems far, far away. However, I think the room got a teensy bit warmer the moment I spotted an announcement for this year’s cherry blossom-inspired beer (or maybe that was just my legs burrowing farther into the depths of the kotatsu).

▼ What springs forth from the frozen ground annually in anticipation of sakura season? Sakura beer, of course (glass grown separately)!

Sankt Gallen Sakura is the perfect marriage of Japan’s most beloved blossoms and a favorite alcoholic beverage. What sets this beer apart is that it is made using real cherry blossom petals and leaves harvested from yaezakura trees (species with blossoms consisting of more than five petals) in Ina City, Nagano Prefecture–one of Japan’s cherry blossom-viewing hotspots selected from a list of 100 famous places. The annual harvest takes place before and after the Golden Week holiday around the last week of April and first week of May. Plucked blossoms are immediately pickled, compressed, and preserved in the fridge for about year before being added to the brew.

▼ One of the very cherry trees that provides blossoms for this beer

Of particular note is that the pickling process releases a chemical in the flowers which is reminiscent of sakura mochi, a traditional Japanese sweet consisting of pink rice cakes filled with red bean paste and wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf.

The remaining ingredients include malted wheat, hops, and “rakufumai” (楽風舞) brewer’s specialty rice, the latter sourced from Izumibashi Brewery in Ebina City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The unconventional addition of the rice adds a sweet depth of flavor to the beer.

▼ “Rakufumai” specialty strain of rice

This year’s edition of Sankt Gallen Sakura beer will hit the shelves of liquor stores and Sankt Gallen’s website on February 19 and stay there until mid-April. A 330-milliliter (11-ounce) bottle will cost 460 yen (US$4.39) and contain 5-percent alcohol. Consider picking some up to sip while you watch the 2021 Cherry Blossom Forecast. Or, if you’re not in the mood for beer, perhaps Suntory’s Blossom Harmony Whiskey or Kanade Sakura Liqueur will hit the spot instead.

Source: PR Times via Entabe
Images: PR Times
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