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.

山のきぶどう酒 - あさ開, 7% ABV, (Iwate, Japan)

50% 果汁 – made with 清酒、山ぶどう (Sake and grape juice)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C
  • Why I don’t love it: plain
  • Where I got it: Tokyo, Jan 2012
  • How much: ¥1580 ($21)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to liquor afficianados: No

Tasting Notes: cloudy reddish-purple, unfiltered juice-like viscosity, bits of pulp at the bottom of the glass. Grape juice and a bit of floral sake on the nose. Grape sweetness up front, 6/10 tart purple grape finish with 4/10 sourness in the mid, alcohol hits at the end. Very smooth (but low ABV) and drinkable. Nothing special though, just quality grape juice and clean sake. Too thin to use as a mixer.

Apple Cinnamon Ale – Sankt Gallen Brewery (Nagano, Japan)

Apple Cinnamon Ale (Autumn/Winter edition) – Sankt Gallen Brewery, 5% ABV, (Nagano, Japan)

Made with 信州伊那 apples

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C+
  • Why I don’t love it: not enough body
  • Where I got it: Tokyo
  • How much: ¥500
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: No

Tasting Notes: pours red tea brown, quickly dissipating head, medium CO2 with bits of micro, ringed retention, minimal slippery retention, very few slow-moving CO2 streams. Some woody unfiltered apple juice and honey on the nose. Creamy up front, minor apple juice, traces of cinnamon, apricot, 4/10 sweetness, slight 5/10 semi-sharp bitter finish. Medium complexity, low-medium depth, okay carry, medium length, watery in the middle. Main complain is that neither the apple nor the cinnamon are prominent enough to discern – the bitterness kills all the other flavours. Lackluster compared to their full-bodied stout counterparts.

Sankt Gallen Stouts (Nagano, Japan)

Sankt Gallen Brewery Stouts

1) Imperial Chocolate Stout (2012), 47 IBU, 8.5% ABV, (Kanagawa, Japan)

On the front label:

“高温で丹念に焙煎した「チョコレートモルト」でほろ苦いビターチョコ風味を表現した黒ビールです。チョコレートモルトを含む全ての原料を通常黒ビールの2.5倍以上使用した、超濃厚なフルボディ。”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: A-
  • Why I like it: Rich
  • Where I got it: Tokyo
  • How much: ¥500
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours almost jet black/brown, small head, small CO2, ringed and thin layered retention, half-runny lacing. Strong roasted coffee and malts on the nose. Buttery mouthfeel, rush of rich 80% cacao / half fresh roast coffee, 3/10 sweetness, very minor sour clean finish, long mellow bitter coating in the rear half of the mouth. High depth, medium complexity, excellent carry, long length, full-bodied. Loads of chocolate & coffee on the exhale. Extremely well executed beer; I’d give it a higher rating if I loved this style more.

2) Sweet Vanilla Stout (St. Valentine’s Day 2012), 28 IBU, 6.5% ABV, (Kanagawa, Japan)

On the front label:

“アロマホップの代わりに、パプアニューギニア産のバニラビーンズで甘く優しい香りを溶け込ませた黒ビールです。後味にはバニラチョコのような風味が残ります。通常より若干濃厚なミディア。”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B+
  • Why I like it: Very drinkable
  • Where I got it: Tokyo
  • How much: ¥500
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours coffee brown, sticky lacing, small head, thin retention, small and micro CO2. Lots of chocolate on the nose, some roasted coffee. 6/10 sweet aromatic chocolate mixed with roasted coffee and vanilla undertones. Great body up front but ends with a partially watery tingly carbonated finish. Medium-high depth, medium complexity, fair carry, long length. Overall quite polished but the finish is somewhat thin.

3) Orange Chocolate Stout (2012), 24 IBU, 6.5% ABV, (Kanagawa, Japan)

On the front label:

“オレンジの香るビターテイストの黒ビールです。「チョコレートモルト」を使用した芳醇な黒ビールにオレンジの爽やかな香りが華を添える。オレンジは果汁もピール(皮)も丸ごと使用しているため、飲んだ後の余韻にまで爽やかな香りが残ります”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: A-
  • Why I like it: Unique
  • Where I got it: Tokyo
  • How much: ¥500
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Definitely

Tasting Notes: pours brown with a shade of orange, small head, ringed layered lacing. Chocolate orange on the nose, just like Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Candied orange up front mellowed by rich dark chocolate and bitter coffee malts, orange persists through finish and ends with a bittersweet deep ending. Hints of figs in there as well. Medium-high complexity, medium-high depth, med-long length, good carry. Great balance of chocolate and orange, definitely worth a try.

柚子と生姜のお酒 (Yuzu and Ginger Liqueur) – Kikkoman, 10% ABV, (Tokyo, Japan)

On the front label:

“「徳島県産柚子」使用、「高知県産生姜」使用 (Made with Tokushima Yuza and Kochi Ginger)”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B+
  • Why I like it: Complex and deep
  • Where I got it: Kichijioji (吉祥寺), Tokyu dept. store, Jan-2012
  • How much: ¥780 ($10.50), 500ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: Yep
  • Would I recommend this to liqueur afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes (straight, chilled): pours cloudy yellow, medium viscosity, sugary sweet bitter lemon on the nose, hints of bitter seville orange as well. Tastes of bitter lemon+orange, a bit of chamomile, mild ginger burn and fragrant ginger flavour. Excellent balance of fruit-bitter-spicy. Good sweetness and mouthfeel.