Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

Brewery: Kiuchi Brewery, Ibaraki, Japan

Style: English IPA

ABV: 7.5%

Rating: 4 stars

80 degrees. Sun. Work done. Aromatic dinner cooking. Wife addressing neglected cleaning.

It'd be hard to get a bum rating tonight. And this one's even been aged in cedar casks...OOH!! D0 they decide to put statements like that on the label thinking the average (or above average) beer drinker will pick up on the cedar aging? I find it hard to detect, but let's find out if I can.

Nice cloudiness to the appearance--like an orange kickball that's been dirtied up for a summer. Strong, persistent head and lacing. Has the looks of a serious, sturdy brew.

Ok. The cedar is apparent in the smell. I would never have pegged it had they not blatantly labeled it so, but they win this battle I guess. There's a richness to the aroma as well; a roundness of yeast, malt and hops that says 'I ain't no Asahi, baby!'

Man, this beer is spicy. First thoughts upon tasting. Not clove or coriander, closer almost to pepper actually. Guess what else is there. Wood. My guess: cedar. Let's offshoot. If wood makes food taste better (planked salmon, etc.) and adds flavor to beer, what else could it improve? Honestly, how often have you been doing something and thought, "you know, a little wood would really set this off." Are we sure this beer's only 7%? I feel like it's taking me farther.

I'm often too cheap to buy more than one of a beer, especially in this case, where at four bucks a pop I wanted to sample as many as I could, but I wish I'd have gotten two of these. Twelve ounces goes by so fast. I wrote that having finished eleven of the twelve, but the twelfth ounce was by far the most intense. Seemingly half of the cedar spice settled at the bottom, and if all of the beer tasted like the last swig, I'd have a lesser opinion. A bitter bludgeon of sting.

With that said, I still enjoyed this immensely, and give it above average marks on both mouthfeel and drinkability on top of the points for uniqueness and its ability to send me into a state where I might use the phrase "planked salmon."


Derek said...

Nice blog Nils. Where did you pick up said beer? I'd like to try it. I find it funny that they would age an IPA. Were the hops pretty hard to detect? English IPAs are typically less hoppy than their American counterparts anyway but just curious what you thought.

nils said...

I got it at a giant Asian marketplace in a Chicago suburb. Haven't seen it anywhere in MN unfortunately. Hops were present, but as you guessed, far less detectable than your average American IPA. Reminded me slightly of a Summit as far as hop presence goes.