Brazil: Brewer invents beer made from bonsai trees

Heroica, a small gypsy brewery located in the Brazilian city of Jundiaí about an hour from São Paulo, has invented a beer made not only from traditional ingredients like malt and hops but also from branches of centennial Japanese bonsai trees.

Renato Bocabello, one of the biggest bonsai masters in Brazil, had the idea for the beer, when he pruned his more than 400 bonsai trees, which leaves him with pounds of bonsai branches twice a year. Some of the trees are more than 100 years old. They were a gift from a third-generation member of a Japanese family that came to Brazil in 1912. But only branches of kuromatsu (Japanese black pine) are suited for beer because of the resin content.

His brother-in-law, Lucas Domingues, who had been working in a commercial brewery before, started to test own recipes. “I noticed some similarity to many resinous hop flavors, noticeably perceived in some IPAs, and we wondered how a beer made with the bonsai pine branches would taste. So we came up with our Kuromatsu Kamikaze IPA,” Domingues says. “Everyone who tasted the beer loved it, so my partner, beer sommelier Fábio Walsh, and I established a commercial brewery.”

Heroica brews about 6o hectoliters of the beer which was launched in 2016. Kuromatsu Kamikaze IPA has 60 IBUs and an alcohol content of 6.6%. The beer is being sold in 500 ml bottles.

If the commercial success continues, the partners intend to increase production. But one thing is clear, the product will never be sold in huge quantities due to the limited availability of kuromatsu branches.

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