シークァーサーのお酒 – 南の果実 (Miyakobijin), 10% ABV, (Japan)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C+
  • Why it’s not awesome: strong alcohol (sake) taste
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥1000 ($13), 500ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to liquor afficianados: No

Tasting Notes (straight, chilled): pours cloudy lime juice colour, slightly thicker than water viscosity. Strong lime and calamansi on the nose. Strong alcohol (from the sake) taste from start to finish muddles the overall experience. Flavours consist of half 5/10 sour lime, aromatic calamansi, bitter lime peel, 2/10 tart finish.

かぼす梅酒 -天女のしずく (大分県産かぼす・梅使用), 12% ABV, (Oita, Japan)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C+
  • Why it’s not awesome: tastes of sugar, alcohol and juice
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥1000 ($13), 500ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: Yes
  • Would I recommend this to liquor afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes (straight, chilled): pours honey yellow, slightly cloudy, thicker than water viscosity. Tastes of 7/10 sweet and 3/10 sour kabosu (yuzu+lime flavour) but mainly umeshu, a bit of honey and 50% grain alcohol in the background. Not terribly smooth but decent kabosu and a nice variation of normal umeshu.

I Hardcore You (Imperial IPA) – Mikkeller & Brew Dog

I Hardcore You (Imperial IPA) – Mikkeller & Brew Dog, 9.5% ABV (Scotland)

From the ratebeer.com website:

I Hardcore You is a 9.5% Imperial India Pale Ale, an international collaborative effort between 2 of Europe’s most rock ’n roll brewers. This beer is a blend of BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA and Mikkeller’s I Beat You. After the blending, the beer was then dry hopped a further twice. Making I Hardcore You a beer which has been dry hopped four times, or maybe even six times. We kinda lost count.”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: A-
  • Why I enjoy it: depth in an IPA, doesn’t drink like a 9.5%
  • Where I got it: Shinjuku (Shinanoya), Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥600 ($8)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours slightly cloudy orange jam colour, dissipating small head, ringed and thin layered retention, micro CO2, multiple varied-speed CO2 streams, thin sticky lacing. Bright honeyed orange citrus on the nose. Ultra-velvety mouthfeel and creamy CO2 up front, 5/10 bitter orange peel, full-bodied flavour, mild grapefruit hoppy softly biting bitter finish. Medium-high complexity, high depth, long length, excellent carry, very nice transitions. A highly refined IPA.

梨園 (なしのお酒), 12% ABV, (Oita, Japan)

-四季を通して日田の梨

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B+
  • Why I like it: natural fruit flavour
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥1000 ($13), 500ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: Yes
  • Would I recommend this to liquor afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes (straight, chilled): pours lime juice coloured cloudy green, unfiltered fruit, thinner than grenadine viscosity. Half asian pear, half alcohol burn on the nose. Clean 6/10 sweet asian pear up front, immediately followed by grain alcohol bitterness down the back of the throat, and again finishes with pear aroma. Strong green apple notes in there as well. Made with 100% Hita pears. Overall tastes of juice + grain alcohol but high quality pear juice at that.

Aomori Cidre sparkling (Aomori, Japan)

On the front label:

“Home-made French-stylished Cidre. Brewed by the high quality apples in Aomori region, Japan. It would be perfect with any parties or special occasions.”

1) Sweet, 3% ABV

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C+
  • Why I enjoy it: very soft delicate apple flavour
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ~¥500 ($7), 200ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to cider afficianados: No

Tasting Notes: pours cloudy white peach flesh colour, minimal ringed retention, micro CO2. Mild unfiltered apple juice on the nose. Creamy like cream soda, 5/10 sweetness, very mild and delicate apple flavour, more on the woody unfiltered juice side, finishes slightly salty (!). Don’t particularly like the flavour profile, but not disappointed.

2) Standard, 5% ABV

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B+
  • Why I love it: Amazing texture and clean flavour
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ~¥500 ($7), 200ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: Yes
  • Would I recommend this to cider afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours light yellow, minimal head, minimal retention, fine CO2, multiple varied-speed CO2 streams. Minor clean and light Fuji apples on the nose. starts off with an ultra-velvety mouthfeel, light-medium body, 4/10 sweetness, bright, clean, and crisp apple in the mid, slight 2/10 tart smooth finish. Superb transitions.

3) Dry, 7% ABV

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B-
  • Why I like it: clean and pure
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ~¥500 ($7), 200ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to cider afficianados: No

Tasting Notes: pours very light yellow, no head, minor ringed retention, slow moving CO2 streams around the perimeter. Peaches and apricots on the nose. Apple/peach fruitiness up front, soft CO2 in the mids, then cuts sharply dry. Not a big fan of dry wines or ciders but this one is decent due to the fruitiness at the start.

ミルシュ, 7% ABV, (Akita, Japan)

On the front:

“ジャージー牛乳発泡性酒, A sparkling alcoholic drink made from Jersey milk that refreshes you anytime or anywhere.”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: A-
  • Why I enjoy it: unique milk flavour! and non-milky
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ~¥500 ($7)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: Yes
  • Would I recommend this to liquor afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes (straight, chilled): pours clear and slightly yellow, minimal CO2, zero head, zero retention. Strong milky white chocolate on the nose (!, surprising). Tastes of the richness (濃厚) of Jersey milk, bright 6/10 sweetness, partial apple fruitiness with a slight alcoholic aftertaste, mild 2/10 sour tart and tangy finish. Overall clean flavour and refreshing. Interesting flavour profile.

やたがらす桃にごり, 11% ABV, エキス分 24%, (Nagano, Japan)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C+
  • Why I don’t love it: fruit juice, sugar, and grain alcohol basically.
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ~¥1500 ($20)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to liquor afficianados: No

Tasting Notes (straight, chilled): pours opaque cloudy white peach flesh colour, unfiltered peach pulp clings to the side of the glass, half-syrupy viscosity. Grain alcohol and peach juice on the nose, no surprise here. Very alcohol forward for 11% ABV, 7/10 sweetness, decent genuine peach flavour but overwhelmed by the alcohol burn. It’s best on the rocks or as a mixer. Cool bottle.

実りのリキュール 日向夏、8% ABV, エキス分 17%, (Nara, Japan)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B
  • Why I enjoy it: unique yuzu/lemon/tangerine flavour
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ~¥1500 ($20)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to liquor afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours lemon juice cloudy, thicker than water but not quite syrupy viscosity. Strong citrus honey on the nose. 8/10 sweetness, lemony-citrus mixed with yuzu and mild honey, hints of yellow grapefruit, , clean finish. Very fragrant and would be fab as a mixer.

Cabos & Honey Ale – K’s Brewing Co, 5% ABV, (Fukuoka, Japan)

On the front:

“A small brewery can take the time to make Ale right. Super premium handmade ale” (カボス & 蜂蜜) (Japanese Citrus & Honey)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: A-
  • Why I enjoy it: great body for a citrus ale
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥500 ($7)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: Yes
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours slightly cloudy marmalade orange, quickly dissipating head, minor ringed retention, lots of active CO2 streams, no lacing. Fruity orange/lemon scent. Drinks with thicker than water viscosity, instant bitter カボス peel up front, lime-lemon-yuzu like pulpy sweetness in the mid, 6/10 mellow honey sweetness until the off-dry 2/10 bitter finish. Lots of aromatic citrus fruit on the exhale. Medium-high complexity, med-high depth, excellent carry, silky mouthfeel, med-long length. Quite extraordinary for a fruity ale to have such depth, complexity, and balance.

Hitachino Nest Valentine’s Day Beer – Kiuchi Brewery (Japan)

Valentine’s Day Beer – Japan

1) Amber Ale (Valentine’s Day, 2012) – Hitachino, 5.5% ABV, (Ibaraki, Japan)

On the back label:

“This amber ale is a reddish chocolate brown beer brewed with a rich malt and bitter hops. Please enjoy the well-balanced flavor and taste.”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B-
  • Why I don’t love it: not terribly exciting, but balanced
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥525 ($7)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: No

Tasting Notes: pours slightly reddish but mainly brown with very minimal head, ringed retention, small CO2, a few fast-moving CO2 streams along the perimeter, sporadic thin sticky lacing. Malts, some hops and a bit of tangerine on the nose. Strong fruity tangerine/clementine up front (a la IPA), transitioning nicely into a malty, minor chocolate, half hoppy, 5/10 bitter finish. Medium complexity, Medium depth, long length, good carry. Doesn’t look particularly impressive from the colour or the pour, but is actually quite balanced and solid. Body holds well and transitions are clean.

2) Espresso Stout (Valentine’s Day, 2012) – Hitachino, 7.5% ABV, (Ibaraki, Japan)

On the back label:

“This espresso stout is brewed using well-roasted espresso beans. The recipe is based on the imperial stout loved by the Russian emperor. Please enjoy the balance of its rich taste and coffee flavor.”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B+
  • Why I enjoy it: excellent body excellent espresso flavor
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥525 ($7)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours jet black, minimal head, quickly dissipating head, ringed retention, small CO2, some sticky-some runny lacing, opaque. Abundant roasted espresso beans on the nose, wow. Fresh roasted coffee 101. Smooth gentle roasted coffee up front, mellowed malts in the mids and a long 6/10 deep coffee, dark 70% chocolate bitter finish. Somewhat fruity. The transitions and elegant and the mouthfeel is extremely silky. Virtually no sour aftertaste. Medium complexity, high depth, long length, great carry, good body. Excellent choice for coffee lovers. Overall a solid beer but I can’t say it’s extremely complex.

3) Doppo White Chocolate (Valentine’s Day, 2012) – Miyashita Sake Brewing, 5% ABV, (Okayama, Japan)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: D-
  • Why I dislike it: extremely watery and disgusting flavour
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥400 ($6)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No not even for free
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Hell No

Tasting Notes: pours Corona light yellow, zero head, minimal ringed retention, small CO2, scattered slow-moving CO2 streams. Chalky white chocolate on the nose, melon-pan (メロンパン) bread, bananas. Tastes of bananas, not-quite white chocolate, and again melon-pan but body is extremely thin and carry is non-existent. Bitter pilsner finish is an afterthought in the creation process. Medium complexity, low depth, low-medium length. The only thing I enjoy about this beer is the interesting aroma. This is clearly a special occasion money-grab product. I’d be sad face if I got this for Valentine’s day.