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.