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Minoh Pilsner

October 30, 2017 2 comments

Rating: 3.65

The second of six Minoh beers that I managed to try on a recent trip to Japan, this being the first of five bottles from the brewery that I managed to pick up at the Yamaya Nagahoribashi store in Osaka after discovering they has one of the better beer selections in the city. The beer follows on from the keg serving of the brewery’s Momo Weizen that I managed to try at the Two Dogs Taproom in Tokyo early on into my trip and being a brewery that I’d read a little about before my trip, I was eager to pick up a few more of their beers if I could.

Appearance (4/5): Golden straw in colour with a semi-clear body and a centimetre tall, foamy white head that had a little more lacing built up around the sides too and managed to hold well over the opening few minutes.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a fresh beer on the nose with citrus and lemon notes opening things up alongside a few biscuit malts and background fruits but for the most part the nose is quite a light one. There was some cereal and grassy hops further on with a little hay in there too that made for a pleasant aroma, although one that could have used being a touch stronger at times but it certainly wasn’t weak either.
Taste (7/10): Opening with biscuit malts and some sweeter ones too, the beer was relatively fresh with some lemon and background fruits coming through; mainly apples with a faint peach taste as well. There was a few grassy hops and hay with a little corn and citrus at the end too which all seemed to come through slightly stronger than it had with the nose.
Palate (4/5): Quite a fresh offering with a medium body and a fairly smooth, balanced feel to proceedings. The beer was sweet for the most part with a subtle tang and quite a dry feel towards the end but one that remained easy to drink throughout.

Overall (15/20): Quite an enjoyable beer from Minoh and probably one that was on par with their Momo Weizen that I reviewed here previously, this being despite the fact that I had expected this to be one of the poorer beers from the brewery that I picked up. The beer was a well-balanced and easy to drink offering that was quite fresh and sessionable, the nose was perhaps a little weaker than I’d have liked but it was a minor complaint with the rest of the beer seeming quite lively.

Brewed In: Osaka, Japan
Brewery: Minoh Beer
First Brewed: Brewery since 1997
Type: Pilsner
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Yamaya Nagahoribashi (Osaka)
Price: ¥410 (£2.72 approx.)

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Hinano

October 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.5

Another review of a beer that I tried in Japan now, this one being the only non-Japanese beer that I tried in just over two weeks in the country and the only reason I ended up trying this one is because the bar at the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka only sold beers from around the world (mainly other Asian and Oceanic offerings). This one is a beer that I went for mainly because it would be the first from Tahiti that I will have tried and my thinking was that I’d probably never see it again or get another chance to try it; although I did end up seeing it in a couple of convenience stores later on into my trip but likely wouldn’t have tried it then since there was other Japanese beers on offer too. Brewed in the capital of Tahiti, Papeete since 1955 and using ingredients from Europe, the beer is probably the only one from Tahiti that I’m likely to try since I can’t imagine stumbling across many more from the French Polynesia area without travelling there either so in that sense this one is a good beer to try despite it not being a Japanese one.

Appearance (4/5): Clear, golden amber coloured and topped with a half centimetre tall, foamy white head that held well initially with some visible carbonation showing too.
Aroma (6/10): Light on the nose as expected, there was some corn and basic adjuncts coming through alongside touches of maize and subtle biscuit malts. I detected a few hints of sweetness and the odd grassy notes as well as some citrus seeing things out.
Taste (6/10): The taste matches the nose with this one, there’s some biscuit malts and light lager ones kicking things off alongside subtle citrus flavours then some hay and grassy hops a little further on. The taste is definitely a basic one but the subtle hop bitterness towards the end was quite good too.
Palate (4/5): Light bodied and quite thin but it was fresh with some light sweetness coming through as well. It’s definitely an easy and refreshing one to drink with a nice balance too and it was a lot better than I’d expected going in.

Overall (14/20): Quite an enjoyable beer that was basic but surprisingly fresh and drinkable, going down easily with little sign of any skunk or off-flavours. There was some subtle sweetness from the corn and touches of biscuit malt worked well with the usual grassy hops and hay flavours. It’s enjoyable for what it was and is definitely one of the better mass-market pale lagers out there, I’m glad I stumbled across this one.

Brewed In: Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Brewery: Brasserie de Tahiti
First Brewed: 1955
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Umeda Sky Building, Osaka, Japan
Price: ¥500 (£3.31 approx.)

Kirin Classic Lager

October 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.75

My fourth beer to fall under the Kirin banner now and the third of which I managed to try on my recent trip to Japan, eventually picking this one up about a week into my trip when I bought a bottle from a shop in the Dotonbori area of Osaka. Following on from Kirin’s Tanrei Green Label and their Ichiban Shibori Stout, this one is the third of five new Kirin beers that I sampled whilst travelling round Japan but I can’t imagine it’s a brand I’ll have many more from after I finish adding the reviews of those that I’ve already tried, mainly because very few of their beers make it to the UK despite the brewery’s beers being amongst the most readily available in Japan. The beer is one that I spotted countless times on my trip and despite it being a beer I hadn’t tried previously, I was initially reluctant to pick it up thinking it would be too similar to their Kirin Ichiban offering I reviewed here about six years ago and have been avoiding ever since.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a clear and light beer with a golden amber colour that was fizzy looking and had a lot of bubbles rising to the surface. There was a centimetre tall, foamy white head that was wavy and held quite well over the opening minutes as well.
Aroma (5/10): There wasn’t a huge amount coming through with the nose of this one other than some corn and basic adjuncts, a few grassy hops appeared near the middle of proceedings with touches of hay as well. Towards the end I got some citrus showing with maize and subtle biscuit notes but it’s one that would be hard to tell apart from most other Japanese marco pale lagers really.
Taste (5/10):
Matching the nose and coming through with quite a light taste, this one started with a combination of pale malts and biscuit before touches of maize and corn adjuncts started to come through alongside some rice as well. The beer was basic but had some biscuit and the odd grassy hop further on but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for a standard pale lager I’m afraid.
Palate (2/5):
Quite a light bodied lager that bordered on thin and basic; there was some earthy hops in the early going to impart a subtle bitterness at least though. The beer was smooth for the most part and it was moderately carbonated as well but it didn’t seem overly crisp despite still being quite easy to drink.

Overall (11/20): Very much a basic pale lager with the usual corn and maize adjuncts coming through with touches of maize and rice not far behind. There was a faint sweetness to this one at points and I managed to get some hay and grassy hops further on but there wasn’t a whole lot to this beer and it’s one that I could have lived without trying.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Kirin Brewery Company
First Brewed: 1888
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan
Price: ¥280 (£1.86)

Premium Yebisu #127 Dual Smooth

October 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.45

Another Sapporo brewed beer and my second under their Yebisu brand, this one follows on from their Premium Yebisu that I reviewed here recently and is another from my recent trip to Japan. I picked this particular offering up on a day trip to the Arashiyama area of Kyoto after spotting it in a 7-Eleven shop and not recognising it as a beer I’d seen previously; this is apparently because it is an exclusive to 7-Eleven group shops in Japan. Released at the start of August this year, the beer is a reworking (or re-release) of their #126 Dual Smooth from last year and it wasn’t one that I was expecting a lot from but I was happy to pick it up given it wasn’t as readily available as some other Yebisu beers that I passed over for this one.

Appearance (3/5): Pale golden to amber with a half centimetre, foamy white head that held relatively well in the opening minutes and showed a lot of visible carbonation through a clear body.
Aroma (5/10): Light on the nose with a basic lager aroma to it, the beer had a lot of corn and cheaper adjuncts coming through with a subtle sweetness as well. There was some pale malts and touches of bread further on before some light biscuit seen things out but overall it was a basic smelling beer.
Taste (5/10): Like the nose, this one was a cheap tasting beer with a combination of rice and corn kicking things off alongside some background adjuncts. There was a faint sweetness with some grassy flavours and light bread as well but nothing really stuck out for me. Towards the end a touch of alcohol showed itself with further sweet malts but it wasn’t an overly enjoyable beer I’m afraid.
Palate (2/5): Light and fairly cheap with a smooth feel and minimal skunk at least but it was definitely basic. There was some sweetness throughout but it wasn’t as crisp or fresh as I’d have liked for the style and the touches of alcohol towards the end weren’t great either.

Overall (9/20): Another fairly poor Sapporo beer, this one was quite basic and cheap with a lot of adjuncts showing but thankfully it wasn’t overly skunky or undrinkable. There was some basic corn and a light sweetness throughout with some stronger lager flavours and light alcohol towards the end which meant I didn’t really enjoy it but it was far from the worst that I tried in Japan.

Brewed In: Ibaraki, Japan
Brewery: Sapporo Breweries
Type: Dortmunder/Export Lager
First Brewed: 2017
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: 7-Eleven (Arashiyama, Kyoto)
Price:‎ ¥255 (£1.69 approx.)

Echigo Pilsner (362 of 1001)

October 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.65

My second beer in relatively quick succession from the Niigata based Echigo brewery, this one following on from their fairly average 90 Days Stout that I reviewed in Kyoto a day or two before trying this one. The most popular of Echigo’s beers and accounting for roughly two-thirds of their sales, this beer was introduced in 1999 after the brewpub/brewery had spent its first four years brewing mainly ales and other beers that weren’t as familiar to the Japanese public. Like the previous offering I tried from the brewery, this one is another Echigo beer that features in the 1001 beers list and is one that I bought alongside their 90 Days Stout at a Liquor Mountain store in Kyoto on my recent trip to Japan.

Appearance (4/5): Bright, golden amber with a lot of bubbles rising to the surface and a centimetre tall, creamy white head that had the odd bubble through it as well. The head eventually settled a little smaller but had a touch more build up around the sides as it started to recede.
Aroma (5/10): Corn and some basic adjuncts kicked things off here, there was some grain and a little citrus but it definitely wasn’t the craft pilsner I was hoping for initially. There was some malt and biscuit notes further on with a light sweetness to back it up alongside some earthy hops; poor and very basic on the nose.
Taste (5/10): Basic malts and corn again open proceedings with some sweetness and a biscuit malt flavour a bit further on but again it’s a cheap beer with some vegetable adjuncts and touches of grain. Thankfully there wasn’t any skunk showing for the most part and some faint citrus rounded things off but it was again quite disappointing.
Palate (2/5): Light-medium bodied with an incredibly basic feel to it which made it seem weaker and blander than it actually was. There was lively carbonation to the beer at least but it feel short of being crisp or sharp, whilst the balance wasn’t really that great either.

Overall (9/20): Very disappointing stuff from Echigo, I was expecting a lot more from this one given its place on the 1001 beers list and the fact that their 90 Days Stout wasn’t all that bad. The beer was incredibly basic and at times cheap tasting with a combination of basic vegetable adjuncts and grain dominating for long parts of this one; there was at least some citrus and the odd biscuit malt but not much else really. Some subtle sweetness rounded this one-off but I can’t imagine it’s a beer I’d ever try again and unless you’re trying to complete the 1001 beers list too then I’d advise you to avoid it as well.

Brewed In: Nishikanbara, Niigata, Japan
Brewery: Echigo Beer Company
First Brewed: 1999
Type: Pilsner
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Liquor Mountain (Kyoto)
Price: ¥246 (£1.63 approx.)

Kure Shimanowa Pilsner

October 20, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.8

The first beer that I managed to try on a recent visit to Hiroshima now, this one being my first beer from the local Kure brewery and one that I was actually on the look out for after reading a little about it before heading off on my trip. Brewed with oranges and lemons, this was definitely one that I went into expecting a refreshing, lively taste and thankfully it didn’t really disappoint either.

Appearance (4/5): Golden amber with a semi-cloudy body and a thin, white head on top that was foamy and covered the surface well, sitting just under a centimetre tall.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh and coming through with plenty citrus in the early going, the beer had some lemon notes with a little yeast and spice not far behind. There was some lively touches initially with some coriander that made it seem almost witbier like at times before some pale malts and grassy hops started to come through further on.
Taste (7/10): Fresh with some lemon and orange in the early going, there was a solid citrus taste that was backed up by some biscuit and pale malts with the odd grassy flavour towards the middle. It was a zesty beer with subtle yeast and hay further on alongside some tropical fruits and a hop-bitterness right at the end.
Palate (4/5): Quite a dry and fresh beer that was tangy with some citrus zest in there too. I found this one to be a well-balanced and drinkable beer that seemed refreshing and quite lively too, it was a well carbonated offering that I found very easy to drink.

Overall (16/20): A very nice, citrus style lager that was an excellent introduction to beer in Hiroshima and one of the best beers I’d tried in Japan up until that point. The beer went down very easily with a fresh, tangy feel that was well-carbonated but balanced and easy to drink; a subtle hop-bitterness and some background fruits keeping things interesting throughout. The nose could perhaps have been a little stronger at times but overall it was a very enjoyable beer and one that I’d happily have again.

Brewed In: Kure, Hiroshima, Japan
Brewery: Kure Beer
Type: Pilsner
First Brewed: 2004
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Keg (280ml)
Purchased: Golden Garden, Hiroshima, Japan
Price:‎ ¥700 (£4.64 approx.)

Kirin Tanrei Green Label

October 18, 2017 2 comments

Rating: 1.95

A fourth beer review from my recent trip to Japan now and one that follows on from the Kirin Ichiban that I reviewed here previously as my second from the Kirin brewery. For all intents and purposes, this offering is another pale lager from the brewery but in Japan it is known as a happoshu drink which is taxed lower than beers and is therefore quite popular and cheaper than beer; basically the key ingredient can’t be malt or the malt ratio has to be less than 67% to qualify as a happoshu.

Appearance (3/5): After an aggressive pour the beer sat with a two centimetre tall head that was bone white and foamy looking, leaving a little lacing on the sides of the glass too. The body was a clear one with a light, golden straw colour to it and head retention was okay too; not a bad start for the style.
Aroma (5/10): A lively beer on the nose, this one opened with some citrus lemon and a few floral touches before the odd background fruit showed itself; definitely fresher than anticipated but there wasn’t much else to it really.
Taste (4/10):
Quite a basic and very cheap tasting beer that was loaded with corn and vegetable adjuncts, there was some faint citrus at point but it was also quite a weak beer when compared with the nose. Towards the end the beer seemed a little watery with a subtle bitterness here too but generally it was a poor offering.
Palate (1/5):
Basic and cheap throughout, this one was loaded with adjuncts and seemed quite watery and bland later on. It was a weak, poorly carbonated beer with a faint bitterness towards the end.

Overall (5/20): Terrible stuff from Kirin here and a beer that I will definitely not be returning to in future, it was quite a weak and poorly balanced beer with the taste a massive step down from an already poor aroma. There wasn’t much of anything going on really, save for some basic corn and citrus flavours which made it one-dimensional and not very enjoyable; one of the worst I tried in Japan.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Kirin Brewery Company
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Happoshu (Pale Lager)
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Family Mart (Hanzomon, Tokyo)
Price: ¥138 (£0.92 approx.)