Every year on April Fool's Day, many Japanese businesses and shops try to do something unusual to surprise consumers. Most of the time, they limit their April Fool's humor to press releases for fictional products and services or joke posts on their social media accounts, but once in a while, you'll see real products offered as well. For example, as we introduced last Thursday, Japanese sweets brand Toraya sold cream puffs that looked like a tray of takoyaki.

However, there was another one that caught our attention: an unusual beer made by SanktGallen Brewery. The oldest microbrewery in Japan, SanktGallen makes an excellent Amber Ale, Brown Porter, Golden Ale and Pale Ale, but it has made a name for itself by making more unconventional beers featuring fruity and dessert-inspired flavors. Some of our readers may recall their seasonal dessert beer lineup featuring hits like Apple Cinnamon Ale in fall, and the sakuramochi-infused Sakura SanktGallen in spring.

Gulab Jamun Stout

At the turn of midnight on April Fool's Day, SanktGallen published a press release for Gulab Jamun Stout. When we read it in the morning, we were about to dismiss it as a fake product, but when we checked the online store, we realized it was an actual product that could be purchased!

If you're unfamiliar with Gulab Jamun, they're round ball sweets made from milk solids and then deep fried and soaked in a syrup flavored with green cardamom, rose water, and other flavors, and popular in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and other countries with substantial South Asian populations. In Japan, and perhaps other countries, they're billed as "the sweetest pastry in the world." We haven't tried all the pastries in the world so we can't verify the claim, but we have tried Gulab Jamun, and we know that they're incredibly sweet!

Therefore, when we saw the words "Galub Jamun Stout," we suspected it was going to be an incredibly sweet dessert beer. The proof, of course, would have to be in the tasting, so we ordered a pair of bottles and waited for them to be delivered.

SanktGallen used 25 kg (55 lbs) of Gulab Jamun for each brew. It may not seem like that much, but when converted to calories, that's a whopping 100,000 kcal.

25 kgs of Gulab Jamun | © PR Times, Inc.

They saccharified the Gulab Jamun with crushed malt and hot water, and added the syrup at the wort stage, all of which went into the beer.

Tasting: Was the joke on us?

So, did SanktGallen really make a beer that could be enjoyed or would we be in for an April Fool's joke? We had to find out. The beers arrived on April 2nd, which happened to be a Friday, so we waited until the evening, prepared to only have a salad for dinner, and opened a bottle.

Photo by grape Japan

The deep chocolate brown color of stout was inviting...

Photo by grape Japan

As soon as we removed the cap, we were greeted by a sweet aroma like a pastry shop, along with a hint of cardamom. We poured some into our glass and gave it a taste...

Photo by grape Japan

We were pleasantly surprised. Of course, it was indeed one of the sweetest beers we had ever tried, but the blend of toasty flavors, the high 8.5% alcohol level, and cardamom managed to keep our interest and it was never cloyingly sweet.

Baked beans with Gulab Jamun Stout

According to the press release, "with its slightly syrupy mouthfeel and sweetness, the beer is reminiscent of oshiruko," a sweet porridge of azuki beans boiled and crushed, served in a bowl with mochi. That gave us an idea for a recipe using Galub Jamun Stout.

Since we enjoyed occasionally making beer and bacon beans, we figured it wouldn't be too difficult to reduce the brown sugar in the recipe and let the sweetness of Gulab Jamun Stout take its place. The additional flavor of cardamom should make for an interesting twist.

So, we reserved the rest of the beer and began making our beans. First, we cooked bacon, onion and garlic, along with some chopped rosemary, added mustard, molasses, salt and pepper, two cans of white beans, then poured in the beer.

Photo by grape Japan

A few hours of slow cooking later, and we were done! Since it was already late, we left the beans on the stove overnight. The following day, we had the second bottle with our baked beans (and another salad) for lunch. Delicious!

Photo by grape Japan

Galub Jamun Stout was only available for sale on April 1st, but the innovative brewery will be back with another unusual April Fool's beer next year!

Meanwhile, you can check out their excellent regular selection of beers at their online shop here.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.