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Yona Yona Ale (360 of 1001)

October 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

The second of the Japanese beers from the 1001 list that I managed to try on my recent trip to the country, this one following on from the draft serving of Shiga Kogen IPA that I reviewed here recently in that regard. This one was probably the easiest of the beers on the list to find in Japan, it was available at the majority of convenience stores in the country that I visited, usually available alongside a few other Yo-Ho beers that varied by store and region so it was only a matter of time before I gave it a try. Released back in 1997 as an answer to US style pale ales, this one was the first canned craft beer in Japan and one that I was looking forward to trying when I got to the country.

Appearance (4/5): Slightly caramel tinged amber with a clear body and a frothy looking head on top that was wavy looking and about a centimetre tall. The head itself was an off-white colour with a few bubbles through it and it managed to hold on for about a minute or so before receding slightly.
Aroma (6/10): Quite malty with some biscuit and subtle caramel notes to start, there was a few lighter hops coming through as well but it was definitely more of an earthy rather than a hop-bitterness. There was some sweetness around the middle that was backed up by a few sugars and background fruits but nothing too heavy featured at any point.
Taste (7/10):
Quite similar to the nose with an earthy malt base that was backed up by a caramel sweetness and some biscuit touches. I managed to get a few lighter, earthy hops and subtle floral flavours towards the middle but it wasn’t as American in style as expected; it could definitely have been a little stronger too but it was an improvement on the nose at least.
Palate (4/5):
Smooth and medium bodied with a dry feel towards the end and a decent balance throughout. There was some early sweetness alongside the malt bitterness but nothing dominated really, I’d have liked things a little stronger in truth but it was pleasant and easy-going.

Overall (14/20): This one was a fairly decent beer from Yo-Ho but definitely one that I felt could have used being a little stronger and more pronounced, particularly with the nose. It was leaning towards the sweeter side of things but I enjoyed the malt bitterness and earthy hops that did feature, coupled well with some floral flavours further on. It was an easy one to drink and one to try if you’re in Japan but it’s not really anything out of the ordinary I’m afraid.

Brewed In: Nagano, Japan
Brewery: Yo-Ho Brewing Company
First Brewed: 1997
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Lawson’s Station (Kyoto)
Price: ¥242 (£1.60 approx.)

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Kyoto Ichii Senshin

October 18, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.6

My first beer from the Kyoto Brewing Company and the first review of a beer that I managed to try in Kyoto recently, I actually thought I’d tried a couple of beers from this brewery but it turns out that several breweries use ‘Kyoto’ as a prefix to their beers in the area. The name roughly translates to ‘single-minded’ and  the beer is a fairly new one, initially released as a Belgian IPA from the brewery in late 2016 and it’s one that I managed to stumble upon in one of Kyoto’s craft bars on my first night in the city, opting for this over several other of the brewery’s beers since it’s not often I find a new Belgian style IPA on-tap.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber with a fairly bright body and a half centimetre head that is foamy and holds quite well with good lacing on the sides as well as covering the entire surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a light beer on the nose with a fresh feel to it, there was some light grapefruit and touches of pine in the early going before some biscuit malts made an appearance. Further on and some yeast showed itself, coupled with pear and grapes as well as some earthy malts around the middle. It’s definitely a pleasant one on the nose but it could have been a little more pronounced at times to make it a good one.
Taste (7/10):
Definitely more Belgian tasting that it smelt, there is some yeast and subtle tart flavours to kick things off alongside a combination of pine and grapefruit hops. There are touches of citrus coming through with a subtle spice, the former being more pronounced than it was with the nose. Towards the end there was some basic malts but it was fresher than anticipated without being overly hoppy; some floral bitterness did see things out though.
Palate (4/5):
Light-medium bodied and quite fresh without being over-carbonated or gassy. There was a subtle bitterness throughout, mainly floral in style with a nice tang coming through as well. It was an easy-going beer with a dry finish but it wasn’t exactly an exciting offering.

Overall (14/20): An enjoyable enough beer without it ever really surprising, there was some pleasant pine and grapefruit flavours coming through alongside some floral touches and a hint of Belgian yeast but my biggest complaint with this one was that it wasn’t ever really strong enough sadly. There was some nondescript fruits and further malt bitterness towards the end but it wasn’t quite as pronounced as I’d have liked to make this a beer that I’d hurry back to.

Brewed In: Kyoto, Japan
Brewery: Kyoto Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Belgian IPA
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Keg (Schooner)
Purchased: Beer Bar Miyama 162, Kyoto, Japan
Price: ¥1000 (£6.62 approx.)

Shiga Kogen IPA (359 of 1001)

October 16, 2017 1 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.)

Northern Monk Faith

September 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

This one is my fifth Northern Monk beer and one that seems to be a new offering for 2017. The beer is one that I picked up from my local bottle shop last month and sampled right at the beginning of September since I wanted to try it fresh. Following on from their Mocha Porter that I tried and wasn’t overly impressed with back in January, this one is my first pale ale from the brewery and it was one that I was quite looking forward to given the brewery’s love of hop-filled, bitter beers. Thankfully the beer was a little better than the last offering from the brewery that I tried but it wasn’t a great one in truth, here’s what I thought of it when I drank it either this month.

Appearance (4/5): Fairly light looking with a light amber to golden body that is slightly cloudy and topped with a two and a half centimetre tall head that is white and holds well initially. There is a little lacing left on the sides of the beer and the head holds for the first couple minutes too; a nice start.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly fresh on the nose with some hoppy touches and a citrus aroma that is complimented by some pale malts. It’s a little basic overall but some grassy notes and lemon come through alongside a faint caramel smell; it could definitely have been a little stronger though.
Taste (6/10): Opening with a citrus and lemon combination, the beer is fresh with some earthy hops and biscuit. It’s a clean and fresh with touches of biscuit and cereal coming through nearer the middle and a faint bitterness to see things out; again it’s a relatively basic offering.
Palate (4/5): Clean and quite crisp, the beer is light-medium bodied and quite fresh too. It’s an easy to drink offering that came through with a nice balance and some floral touches later on.

Overall (13/20): This one was an okay pale ale from Northern Monk, it was a little basic at times and it wasn’t as bitter or hopppy as I’d expected either. It was a drinkable offering with some citrus and touches of sweetness but it’s not one I’d have again I’m afraid and it was a little bit of a disappointment to boot.

Brewed In: Leeds, Yorkshire, England
Brewery: Northern Monk Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Can (440ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.20

Boyne Amber Ale

September 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

The third of the three beers from the Boyne Brewhouse that I managed to pick up while over in Ireland at the end of last month and the start of this one; the beer follows on from Boyne’s Saison that was quite disappointing and their only marginally better Pale Ale. I’m hoping it’s a case of saving the best to last with this one though and hopefully it will prove to be a better beer, otherwise I can’t see this being a brewery that I pick any more beer from up when I’m next in Ireland later this year.

Appearance (4/5): A darker, almost caramel colour that has a half centimetre tall, bubbly head that is a creamy white and slightly foamy looking but manages to cover the surface well. The head retention was okay too, initially sitting well then start to break up a little after about forty-five seconds to a minute later with a patch of lacing holding in the middle.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a malty nose with some sweetness in the early going too, there was some caramel notes with the odd sugar to back them up and hints of bread not too far behind either. A couple of faint biscuit notes featured towards the middle alongside lighter hops and a earthy aroma but it could have used being a little stronger in my opinion.
Taste (6/10): Semi-sweet with a little caramel and the odd biscuit note coming through, there was a touch more sweetness than there was with the nose and I managed to get some earthy flavours coming through soon after. A combination of sugars and some bread malts featured around the middle with a moderate bitterness seeing things out but again the beer wasn’t quite as strong as I’d have liked.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium bodied and sweet with a few sugars featuring from the start. The beer was relatively crisp and slightly dry at times whilst the nose in particular was a little weak but the balance wasn’t a bad one and it was easy to drink. Carbonation levels were about average for the style of beer and there was a nice bitterness to see things out as well.

Overall (13/20): Not a bad amber ale and easily the best of the three beers from the brewery that I’ve tried now, although it was still a little weak at times and far from a classic offering. Opening with a nice helping of sweetness that was backed up by pleasant biscuit malts and some caramel flavours, this one was a balanced beer that proved quite easy to drink throughout without being anything special. It was crisp and dry, especially towards the finish with a nice bitterness to see things out as well, although I’d have liked it more had it been a little stronger.

Brewed In: Drogheda, Count Meath, Ireland
Brewery: Boyne Brewhouse
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Amber/Red Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £1.67

Boyne Pale Ale

September 19, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.1

Only my second from the County Meath based Boyne Brewhouse and the second of three beers from them that I picked up when visiting Ireland at the end of August. When visiting a local bottle shop in the north of Ireland I managed to pick this one up along with their previously reviewed Boyne Saison that I found quite disappointing and another beer from them that I’ve yet to review here, their Boyne Amber Ale. This one also goes by the less obvious name of ‘Born in a Day APA’ and is an American pale ale style offering that I was definitely looking forward to trying when I picked it up but given how average and unlike a saison the last beer from them I tried was, I began to have doubts prior to opening this one; here’s what I thought of it anyway.

Appearance (4/5): Quite cloudy to start with a bright amber body that was topped with a thin, half centimetre head that was bubbly and white before fading after about thirty seconds to leave a thin surface lacing that had more build up around the edges.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh and quite lively with some citrus in the early going before the biscuit malts and floral hops start to make themselves known. There was a little sweetness coming through with touches of pine and a few pale, almost earthy malts towards the middle. It’s a relatively clean nose with some bitterness sneaking in but the balance was good and it was a pleasant enough start.
Taste (5/10): Pine hops and lots of biscuit flavours kick things off here, there was some earthy bitterness and touches of citrus not too far behind either though. Whilst seemingly not as fresh as the nose was, the beer was some grassy touches and a nice helping of earthy malts around the middle but towards the end it started to seem a little one-dimensional and boring at times, it proved to be a little basic tasting too.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and quite fresh with a crisp and floral feel, there was a subtle tang coming through at times too and the beer seemed balanced.  Overall it was a basic beer on the palate with average carbonation levels for the style and some dryness at the end.

Overall (12/20): The better of the two beers that I tried from the brewery so far but this one was still quite an ordinary pale ale that was closer to an English one than the American one advertised, there was more of a biscuit and earthy malt taste than I’d have expected from an American pale ale although some lighter citrus and floral touches did feature. It was well carbonated and crisp but beyond that it was quite an average and not one that I’d seek out again really.

Brewed In: Drogheda, Count Meath, Ireland
Brewery: Boyne Brewhouse
First Brewed: 2017
Also Known As: Boyne Brewhouse Born in a Day APA
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £1.67

Knockout Middleweight IPA

September 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.4

My second beer from my recent trip to Ireland now and also my second from Belfast based Knockout Brewing, this one following on from their Hefeweizen Max that I reviewed here previously. Their Middleweight IPA is another that I picked up from a local bottle shop, mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t a beer that I’d seen before and it came from a brewery that I’d never heard of either. An English IPA by style, I was hoping this offering would prove itself to be a little better than the last from the brewery that I tried and here’s what I thought of it when I tried it late last month.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a fizzy and active beer, this one wasn’t as foamy as the previous from the brewery but it managed to form a two and a half centimetre head that was dome shaped and quite foamy looking. There was a thick and cloudy look to the body of the beer and head retention was good too, there was almost no movement at all over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (6/10): Citrus notes and some faint pine opening things up here, I got a little orange and some lemon with the odd biscuit note not too far behind. Some subtle background fruits and juicy aromas feature around the middle of the beer, I managed to detect some grapefruit too but it could definitely have been a touch stronger at times as well; towards the end some earthy malts and bitterness seen things out nicely though.
Taste (6/10): Following on well from the nose, the beer starts with citrus and orange flavours that were backed up by a few pine hops and touches of grapefruit but neither were particularly strong initially. There was some biscuit and earthy malts around the middle before some hints of sweetness made a brief appearance too; towards the end there was a nice bitterness to round things off.
Palate (3/5): Quite crisp and fresh with lively carbonation and a nice tang to proceedings, the beer was semi-sweet and had a nice floral touch at points thanks to the background fruits and hops. There was a faint bitterness from the middle on and although it could have been stronger, the balance of the beer was a good one and I enjoyed it more than expected.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite a nice IPA from Knockout, it was definitely an English style IPA but had leanings towards an American version at points too, particularly when the pine and grapefruit bitterness started to come through but it was just a touch weaker than I’d have liked. The citrus and orange flavours were well received and the beer was an easy one to drink throughout.

Brewed In: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Knockout Brewing
First Brewed: 2015
Type: English IPA
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49