Suntory The Premium Malt’s

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.0

Another random Japanese lager that I managed to pick up and try on my recent trip to Japan, this one a first from the Suntory brewery based in Osaka but one that I picked up from a Family Mart in Tokyo early in my holiday. The beer is one that I’d noted down to look out for, for what reason I’m still not sure but as it turned out it was quite an easy beer to find in the country. Available at almost every convenience store I visited during my trip, this is a beer that I only tried once and it is also one that definitely wasn’t as bad as I had feared upon opening the can.

Appearance (3/5): A fairly light beer that was a straw golden colour and topped with a thumb-sized, foamy white head of about two centimetres tall. Retention was a little better than expected with it holding its initial height well over the opening couple of minutes before eventually halving in size.
Aroma (6/10): Very light and basic smelling with a lot of corn and vegetable adjuncts coming through in the early going, this one is definitely a cheaply brewed pale lager that had some rice and cereal coming through at points as well. There was a touch of skunk towards the end but this was a bit lighter than anticipated before a subtle bitterness seen things out.
Taste (6/10): The taste was a little stronger than with the nose, I managed to get some corn and cereal in the early going before some touches bread and basic adjuncts made an appearance. There was some rice around the middle with a slightly earthy taste and some hay following but it was quite basic throughout.
Palate (3/5):Light-medium bodied and definitely a malty beer as the name suggested, this one was fairly clean and very much a mass-market offering. There was some subtle bitterness further on and thankfully the skunky flavours were kept to a minimum.

Overall (12/20): This one was a fairly basic but somewhat drinkable offering from Suntory, it’s not one that I’d go as far as to recommend anyone tries but it was fairly easy to drink lager with a solid malt taste and some subtle bitterness further on. There wasn’t a whole lot to it really but it’s not the worst Japanese lager I’ve tried either.

Brewed In: Osaka, Japan
Brewery: Suntory
First Brewed: circa. 2002
Type: Premium Lager
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Family Mart (Hanzomon, Tokyo)
Price: ¥142 (£0.95 approx.)

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Minoh Momo Weizen

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

The first of several Minoh Beer offering that I managed to try on my recent trip to Japan, this one being a variation of the Weizen offering that I managed to try later on my trip and one that has had Japanese peach juice added during the brewing process. Minoh was a brewery that I’d read a little about before my trip and one of their beers even featured on the 1001 beers list so I was keeping my eyes peeled for anything by them, managing to find this one at a brewpub in Tokyo early into my holiday and quickly deciding to give it a try.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a cloudy looking yellow to golden colour with a body that is almost opaque, the beer has a thin and foamy white head on top that is about quarter of a centimetre tall but manages to cover the surface well. It’s a nice start from this beer although the head wasn’t exactly as large as I’d have expected from the style.
Aroma (7/10): Strong clove and wheat aromas kick things off here with some citrus and lemon coming through soon after. The beer seemed semi-sweet on the nose with some coriander and touches of Belgian yeast coming through alongside some faint tart. The beer was fresh on the nose and became a little lighter once it had settled but it was an easy-going, nice start to this one.
Taste (7/10): Fresh like the nose, the beer opens with some lemon and wheat with the clove that featured earlier making an appearance here too. There was a few lighter malts and touches of bread towards the middle but nothing was particularly strong really, there was some yeast and banana to round things off though.
Palate (4/5): Medium and smooth, the beer was fresh and fairly light which also made it an easy on to drink. There was a slight bitterness towards the end but it was fleeting, the balance also proved to be a decent one and it was well-carbonated too.

Overall (13/20): This one was an okay wheat beer despite the fact that it was definitely lighter than anticipated and the head was quite poor for the style. It opened with a nice citrus and wheat combination that was backed by some clove and touches of yeast, the malts and bread flavours nearer the centre doing well to balance things out and help it down easily. It was a pleasant enough offering though but I’m not sure it’s one that I’d go back to a second time.

Brewed In: Osaka, Japan
Brewery: Minoh Beer
First Brewed: 2009
Type: Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Keg (473ml)
Purchased: Two Dogs Taproom (Roppongi, Tokyo)
Price: ¥1000 (£6.62 approx.)

Shiga Kogen IPA (359 of 1001)

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

The second review of a beer that I managed to try in Japan recently, this one is the first of the beers on the 1001 list from the country that I managed to find as well. I stumbled across this one at the Two Dogs Taproom in the Roppongi area of Tokyo on my second night in the city and it was the first I ordered on my visit. Brewed by Tamamura Honten (itself a well established sake brewery) in the Nagano area of the country, this was I believe the only beer from the brewery that I tried during my time in Japan but I did see a few of their other beers in a bottle shop towards the end of my trip but never picked any new ones up; instead I opted for bringing a bottle of this one home with me to the UK.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber in colour with a still body and a quarter centimetre head that was about double that initially but had settled by the time it reached my table. The surface was well covered on the beer though, only a slight break up showed at one side and it was a decent start.
Aroma (7/10): Hoppy to start with, the beer opened with some grapefruit and a light citrus aroma that was coupled with some faint earthy notes towards the middle. There wasn’t anything overpowering on the nose but a slight malt bitterness further on was a nice touch.
Taste (6/10): The taste of this one matches the nose quite closely with some grapefruit and pine in the early going but it wasn’t quite as malty as the nose was. There was some citrus notes and a few earthy flavours as things progressed before some biscuit and bread malts started to show; a few subtle spices and fruits rounding things off nicely.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and fairly bitter with some resinous pine bitterness in the early going before turning to a more malty, earthy bitterness further on. The balance of the beer was a good one which made it quite easy to drink and it was well carbonated too.

Overall (15/20): This one was a decent first beer from the brewery for me and one that got off to a good start with a solid pine and grapefruit bitterness. Things remained balanced thanks to the earthy malts and touches of sweetness that appeared further on which made it an easy beer to drink; I looking forward to trying this one again with the bottle I brought home with me.

Brewed In: Yamanouchi, Nagano, Japan
Brewery: Tamamura Honten
First Brewed: 2004
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Keg (473ml)
Purchased: Two Dogs Taproom (Roppongi, Tokyo)
Price: ¥950 (£6.29 approx.)

Premium Yebisu

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.35

The first of approximately forty new beers that I managed to review in just over two weeks on my recent trip to Japan, this one being a beer that I picked up from a Family Mart store on my first night in the country and one that I had actually been on the look out for as it was one of the country’s higher rated marco-lagers online. The beer was my third from Sapporo Breweries after reviewing their Premium Lager and Draft Beer offerings back in 2011 and not really enjoying either, the Premium Lager offering in particular being a poor one. I tried my best to avoid beers from this brewery when something different was available but did end up reviewing another Yebisu offering later in my trip so expect that to be added here soon too.

Appearance (3/5): Medium amber in colour with a very clear body and a lot of big bubbles rising to the surface. The head was white and about one centimetre tall with a foamy texture and good retention, fading to a small surface lacing after a couple of minutes.
Aroma (5/10): There wasn’t much in the way of an aroma to this one at all, I managed to get some basic corn and vegetable adjuncts in the early going with some cereal and rice in there too. Definitely a cheap and basic lager with some light earthy touches and subtle bitterness further on towards the end. Thankfully there wasn’t much in the way of any skunk on the nose but it was quite a light and cheap aroma anyway.
Taste (4/10): The taste is quite a close match to the nose with some corn and pale, earthy notes coming through alongside the usual basic adjuncts; namely some rice and vegetable notes. There was some light skunk right at the end but for the most part this was a fairly Asian-style standard pale lager.
Palate (2/5): Light to light-medium bodied but not quite as thin as I’d feared going in, the beer was basic and a little bland at times which in turn made it easy to drink but not overly enjoyable really. It was quite a one-dimensional offering with a slight dryness at the end but it wasn’t as crisp as I’d have liked.

Overall (9/20): A very basic and cheap tasting lager that didn’t have a whole lot going on really, I can now see why this is one of the Japanese lagers that never seems to make it as far as the UK. It was an easy enough beer to drink, mainly down to the fact that it was light and bland for the most part, it was however relatively skunk free expect for at the very end of the taste but it’s not really one that I’d recommend.

Brewed In: Ibaraki, Japan
Brewery: Sapporo Breweries
Type: Dortmunder/Export Lager
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Family Mart (Hanzomon, Tokyo)
Price:‎ ¥242 (£1.60 approx.)

Warka Classic

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.0

Another Polish beer now and what might be my last new one for a while now, this is a beer that I actually drank quite a lot of in Poland on my last visit to the country back in August but it’s not one that I gave a proper review at the times. The fact that I never reviewed it whilst in Poland is actually one of the reasons that I picked this one up recently when I found that Asda supermarkets in the UK were selling it, not because I was a huge fan of it in Poland. It’s pretty much a standard, basic pale lager but here’s what I thought of it when I finally tried a bottle and gave it a proper review.

Appearance (4/5): Clear and golden amber with a nice head that sits just over two and a half centimetres tall and looks quite foamy. It’s a white head that eventually settles around two centimetres tall and looks nice, leaving some good lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (5/10): Quite a clean nose with some biscuit malts and earthy aromas but it’s not a strong one at any point. There was some corn and bread around the middle with a slightly metallic aroma further on but it’s definitely a basic lager smell throughout.
Taste (5/10): Opening with more of the biscuit and corn from the nose, the beer is an earthy tasting one that was again quite light throughout. There was some faint lemon and pepper coming through around the middle with a clean taste and a faint bitterness near the end but it’s nothing to write home about really.
Palate (3/5): Clean but a very basic and light beer, almost weak tasting at times with a faint sweetness coming through as well. It was softly carbonated but easy to drink, likely due to the fact it was so bland.

Overall (12/20): A fairly basic and light Polish lager that was drinkable but didn’t really stand out at any point, although it was a clean and relatively easy-going beer. There was some biscuit malts and corn coming through with a subtle sweetness and some faint lemon at times too but beyond that there wasn’t much to this beer and I doubt it’s one that I’ll have again unless I’m back in Poland.

Brewed In: Warka, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland
Brewery: Browary Warka
First Brewed: Brewery since 1478
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £1.69

Black Eyed King Imp (Vietnamese Coffee Edition)

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.15

At the time I purchased this one last August it was the strongest canned beer in the world (apparently) but it’s taken me over a year to finally open it. Brewed as a one-off from Brewdog in 2015, this was a beer that I almost didn’t bother picking up given the price but eventually changed my mind last year when placing another online order with the brewery. This one is the Vietnamese coffee edition of the beer and one that I finally cracked open early last month so I was interested to see how the beer had held up in the year since I’d bought it; as it turns out it had aged pretty well.

Appearance (4/5): Oil black and opaque with quick a thick looking pour, the head is a medium, tan brown colour that is about half a centimetre tall but fades to a thin surface lacing after about thirty seconds, covering the centre and some of the edges of the surface.
Aroma (9/10): Quite a strong opening but not one that overpowered, there was some strong coffee and vanilla notes to open things up alongside some dark, roasted malts and plenty of chocolate. I managed to get some sweetness in the early going with some touches of oak and subtle fruits that seemed to work well together towards the end; dates and plums featured strongest but there was also some dates in there as well.
Taste (8/10): Opening with a lot of chocolate and a solid sweetness off the back of this, the beer also had some subtle vanilla flavours and sugars coming through in the early going. Further on some oak and dark, roasted malts from the nose started to come through alongside a few creamy touches and more coffee. Towards the end there was a few dark fruits with plum and raisin seeming the most pronounced and continuing what the nose had earlier started.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and full-bodied with soft carbonation levels and quite a dark, rich feel to proceedings. There was a lot of complexity to the beer and the balance was quite good too, it was a lot easier to drink that I’d expected from such a strong beer.

Overall (17/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog and definitely one of their better beers, this one seemed to hold up well in the year plus since I bought the can. Opening with plenty of coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavours and some nice roasted malts too, this one was a complex but very well-balanced beer that went down quite easily considering the strength. It’s rich but softly carbonated with some darker fruits near the end although things did fade a touch nearer the end too but I guess that’s understandable given how long I took enjoying it; it was a great beer throughout.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.7%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £9.50

West Side Beavo

October 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.25

A recent collaboration between California-based Firestone Walker and London’s Beavertown, this one is a beer that was brewed over in California but has now made its way to the UK as well. The beer is one that I picked up in July this year and tried at the start of September but it’s one that I’m just getting around to reviewing here now. Given the two breweries responsible for this one are ones that I’m a fan of, I went into this beer expecting something special and sadly it failed to really deliver; here’s what I thought of it when I tried it last month.

Appearance (4/5): Bright and golden-yellow in colour, the beer is very clear and has a few larger bubbles rising to the surface as well. The head is a bubbly white one that starts about two centimetres tall before fading to a thin, half centimetre one that leaves touches of lacing on the sides of the glass as well as covering the surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): Clean on the nose with some lager malts and a few touches of corn, there is some bread and the odd background hop as well as some citrus but it’s a fairly mellow aroma and one that could definitely have been stronger.
Taste (6/10): Corn and light biscuit make up most of the taste with some lager malts and citrus not too far behind. The beer was a fresh one with some lemon and grassy hops around the middle but it was quite weak at point too. Towards the end some floral flavours and a lighter bitterness feature as well but it’s not an overly complex offering by any means.
Palate (3/5): Light and crisp with a fresh and mellow feel to it, the beer was fragrant and had a light tang from the citrus too. It was an easy-going beer with a faint bitterness and the odd bit of spice but there wasn’t a whole lot going on in truth.

Overall (13/20): Quite a light and clean beer with touches of citrus and some floral hops as well but it was definitely basic and not as full-bodied as I’d have liked either. The beer seemed thin at point but it was at least easy to drink without it impressing at any point sadly.

Brewed In: Paso Robles, California, United States of America
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. / Beavertown (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Type: India Pale Lager
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.70