Ugh. Blonde ales. In my mind, the blonde ale is a pretty forgettable style. There are exceptions, sure, but if I have a choice, I’m probably not going to choose the blonde ale. Torikumi, a blonde from Sweetwater and Telluride, is a little different. Because it has wasabi in it. Also, I’m gonna be honest here, there’s a sumo wrestler on the can, and I’ll drink any beer that has a sumo wrestler on the can. It’s just one of the rules I live by, right up there with never buy a car that’s not big enough to sleep in.
Wasabi isn’t exactly a common beer adjunct. If you’re looking for other wasabi-infused beers to compare it to, the list is pretty short and consists mostly of one-off draft experiments at small breweries in California. There are a few notable exceptions: A few years ago, Dogfish Head created Rosabi, an imperial IPA with wasabi. Against the Grain made a Japanese-style lager with wasabi and the Grimm Brothers made a honey wheat ale with wasabi. But the only one of those that has ever touched my lips was Dogfish Head’s Rosabi, and good luck getting ahold of that beer now.
So Torikumi stands alone on the shelves right now. Sweetwater partnered with Telluride Brewing Company for this side project beer, which falls into the decidedly weird Dank Tank series. And Torikumi is definitely weird. It pours slightly orange and pretty hazy—call it the color of Trump’s skin after a day on the golf course—and smells fruity as hell.
The mouthfeel is fluffy and light, as if you’re knocking back a cloud. The flavor up front is sweet and malty, like a fist full of orange marmalade. I don’t necessarily love it and at first, I’m wondering where the hell the wasabi is. According to the brewers, they chose a lighter version of wasabi, but I’d like for them to go full bore. If you’re gonna put a sumo wrestler on the label, give the beer a kick, right?
The more I get into the beer, though, the more I like it. The malty, orange jam elements settle down and the wasabi begins to play a bigger role, providing a bit of tingle on the tongue, especially after the sip dissipates. It’s a bit more subtle than I want from this style of beer (and let’s face it, that’s probably why I don’t like blonde ales to begin with), but if you’re a wasabi fan, get thee to the beer store. Because it’s safe to say, there’s nothing else like Torikumi on the shelves right now.
Breweries: Sweetwater and Telluride
City: Atlanta, Ga. and Telluride, Co.
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 7.5% ABV
Availability: Limited, 16 oz. cans