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Japanese tropical garden, craft brewery join forces to create banana-flavored IPA

Atagawa Tropical & Alligator Garden deputy head Hiroko Kamiyama, far left, Hansharo Beer Brewing head brewer Junpei Yamada, second from left, and staff hold bottles of Izu Banana-wani IPA at the garden in Higashiizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on March 10, 2021. (Mainichi/Yoshihiro Yanagawa)

ITO, Shizuoka -- Ever knocked back a pint of ale and thought, what this needs is more bananas? Probably not, but if you have then you are in luck, as a tropical garden and a craft beer maker on Japan's Izu Peninsula have teamed up to brew up a banana-accented IPA.

    Atagawa Tropical & Alligator Garden in Higashiizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, joined forces with Hansharo Beer Brewing in nearby Izunokuni to create Izu Banana-wani IPA (Izu banana-alligator IPA), set to go on sale on March 15 at the garden's "fruit parlor" and other locales. The project was intended to inject some life into Izu tourism, badly hobbled by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

    The Atagawa garden has 120 banana trees in 20 varieties growing in its greenhouses. When the fruit ripen, they are carefully harvested one-by-one, before appearing on the fruit parlor menu. Hansharo brewing, which turns out about 50 kinds of beer per year, approached the garden with the idea of making a banana brew -- a first for the maker -- and Atagawa signed on to the project.

    According to head brewer Junpei Yamada, 12 kilograms of bananas were turned into juice and then mixed into the wort -- beer before the yeast is added -- to make one 1,000-liter tank of the IPA. He says the result is a creamy beer with a soft banana flavor.

    Hansharo produced 1,500, 330-milliliter bottles, each priced at 950 yen ($8.70) including tax. The IPA is also scheduled to go on sale at the brewery's restaurant and on its online shop.

    (Japanese original by Yoshihiro Yanagawa, Ito Local Bureau)

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