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Posts Tagged ‘asia’

Hitachino Nest Lager

April 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

My first new Japanese beer since November when I tried the bottle of Sankt Gallen Yokohama XPA that I brought back the country at the end of last year, this one will be my sixty-fifth Japanese beer and my eleventh from the Kiuchi brewery, all of them falling under the Hitachino Nest label. This one is an India pale lager style offering that I hadn’t ever seen before but I recently discovered that a local Oddbins store was selling cans of it and I decided to pay a visit and pick one up. Despite being relatively common and easy to find in the UK, I was very surprised to find that Hitachino Nest beers weren’t particularly easy to find in Japan, the only time I managed to locate one was on my last day at Tokyo Station in a bottle shop but I opted against picking up their Espresso Stout that day as I was confident that I’d be able to find it at some point in the UK; as yet I’ve not been able to but I’m still looking. This one is a beer that I’m excited about and it will be the first time that I’ve tried a canned offering from the brewery so it should be interesting to see how it turns out, as long as it’s an improvement on their Saison Du Japon offering that I had last then I’ll be happy.

Appearance (4/5): Pale, golden amber and clear bodied, this one is topped with a two centimetre tall head that is bubbly and white. It managed to hold about half of its initial height over the opening minute or so before eventually fading to a thin surface lacing at one side and patchy at the other; there was one or two bubbles rising to the surface of the beer but for the most part it looks quite still.
Aroma (6/10): Quite fresh on the nose with some nice touches of citrus and subtle hops coming through initially, I managed to get some hay and grassy hops with a touch of lemon. Towards the end the beer started to turn slightly more malty with a few sweet touches and hints of biscuit along with some corn adjuncts that I could have done without but it was a nice smelling beer on the whole with a pleasant bitterness seeing things out.
Taste (7/10): Tangy to start with some citrus and lemon flavours kicking things off alongside the grassy hops from the nose. There was some faint pine touches coming through alongside a couple of background fruits towards the middle of the beer, I got some orange and a couple of floral flavours later on too with some light malts and a subtle sweetness at the end too.
Palate (4/5): A light-medium bodied beer that was quite fresh and tangy with a surprisingly good balance and some nice hops throughout which added to the bitterness of the beer. It was well carbonated and lively with some floral touches and a dry finish but it was very much a thirst quencher and one that went down easily.

Overall (15/20): Nice stuff from Kiuchi here, this one was a beer that definitely went down a lot better than expected with a pleasantly fresh taste that opened with some nice citrus and subtle hops coming through. It was balanced and semi-bitter with good carbonation levels and a nice tang as well. Compared to some of the beers that I managed to try in Japan, this one was quite a good offering and well worth trying.

Brewed In: Ibaraki, Japan
Brewery: Kiuchi Brewery
Type: India Pale Lager
First Brewed: 2014
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Oddbins (Glasgow)
Price: £3.20

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Gweilo Pale Ale

April 5, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.0

The second of two Gwelio Beer offerings that I was recently gifted thanks to someone returning from Hong Kong, this one follows on from the brewery’s IPA offering that I recently sampled and is the third beer I’ve reviewed from Hong Kong here after also trying a bottle of Sun Lik Beer back in 2011 and not enjoying it at all. Released back in 2015 when the brewery first opened, this one is supposedly a light beer that has some tropical Asian fruits coming through and is one that I’m interested in seeing how it comes out. The brewery is one that I’ve actually been aware of for a couple of years now, mainly because of the name which is a Cantonese term that roughly translates as ‘ghost chap’ and is used as a slang term to described foreigners in Hong Kong.

Appearance (4/5): A fairly clear amber colour that is topped with a bubbly looking head sitting just under a centimetre tall before gradually losing some of that height after a minute or so. Like the brewery’s IPA, this one looks like a well carbonated beer with plenty of fine bubbles rising to the surface as well.
Aroma (6/10): Quite strong on the nose with a sharp aroma to it that consisted of some grassy hops and a few earthy ones too. There was some citrus showing in the early going here with touches orange and grapefruit which I wasn’t expecting from a beer labelled as an English IPA. There was some floral touches in there as well before some subtle pine seen things out towards the end.
Taste (5/10): Opening with some earthy hops and a few grassy ones too, this beer seemed quite one-dimensional and basic if I’m honest with some citrus flavours showing and a couple of grassy hops as well but in truth there wasn’t a great deal to it really. It was semi-bitter with some floral touches and light pine nearer the end but nothing really stood out and it wasn’t that interesting either I’m afraid.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and strongly carbonated, the beer had an effervescent feel to it with a slight tang showing as well. The beer was bitter throughout thanks to the earthy malts but this started to turn almost watery towards the end and the beer seemed quite one-dimensional as a result.

Overall (10/20): My second beer from Gwelio and not quite as good as the brewery’s IPA, this one was a very basic and one-dimensional beer that opened with some earthy hops and touches of citrus but nothing was forthcoming to really back these flavours up other than the odd earthy malt. It was an easy beer to drink without it ever really being enjoyable, helped by the fact that it was at least balanced and well-carbonated but I don’t think it’s one I’d pick up again if it was available in the UK; I guess I’ll try it again if I’m ever back in Hong Kong but that’s about it.

Brewed In: Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
Brewery: Gweilo Beer
First Brewed: 2015
Type: English Pale Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Hong Kong
Price: Gift

Gweilo IPA

April 5, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.3

The first of two beers I recent received as gifts from someone returning from Hong Kong, both beers coming from the country’s Gweilo Beer brewery and brewed at the Hong Kong Beer Co. on Hong Kong island. The brewery’s beers are apparently European/English in style and the brewery itself was first launched back in the summer of 2015 so neither of these were available when I visited the country several years before that. This one will be only my second beer from Hong Kong that I’ll have reviewed here and follows on from the awful bottle of Sun Lik Beer that I tried back in 2011; a beer that still ranks as one of the very worst that I’ve ever tried so I’m confident this one will at least be slightly better than that one was.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a lively looking beer, I had to slowly pour this one and it still managed to form a respectable head that sat about two centimetres tall initially and looked quite creamy on top with a few bubbles through it as well. It’s has a lot of visible carbonation showing through the beer in the form of tonnes of small bubbles rising to the surface and the head actually gains some height forming a dome shape at the top of the glass and it managed to hold its height very well over the opening few minutes.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with an earthy aroma that had a few subtle hops sitting in the background, the beer was definitely fresher than expected with some touches of citrus and orange in there alongside a few biscuit malts. There was a sweetness towards the middle with faint caramel showing and some grassy hops as well; a good start.
Taste (6/10): Matching the nose well, the beer kicked off with some earthy malts and biscuit flavours with a nice combination of citrus and orange following on behind and adding a freshness to the beer. It’s not quite as strong as with the nose but there was some touches of hay and grassy hops towards the end as well as some bread malts and floral touches; the only down side was that a few vegetable adjuncts and touches of corn did manage to sneak in towards the end once the beer had been left for a while which was disappointing but other than that it was a nice beer.
Palate (3/5): A light-medium bodied beer that was very strongly carbonated and lively with a sharp, almost tangy feel towards the end. It was perhaps a little too strongly carbonated which meant it started to seem gassy towards the end but the balance was a good one and it proved relatively easy to drink without being an overly complex offering.

Overall (12/20): This one turned out to be quite but enjoyable beer that opened with a nice combination of orange and citrus flavours that were backed up by some earthy malts and biscuit flavours, some faint sweetness not too far behind either. It wasn’t the most varied or exciting tasting beer but it was a pleasant and easy-going one that’s miles better than the only other beer from Hong Kong that I’ve reviewed here; the awful Sun Lik Beer from a few years ago.

Brewed In: Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
Brewery: Gweilo Beer
First Brewed: 2015
Type: English IPA
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Hong Kong
Price: Gift

Sankt Gallen Yokohama XPA (371 of 1001)

December 21, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.65

A final review of from the Japanese beers that I picked in Tokyo at the start of October, just before heading home from Japan and another that features in the 1001 beers list; likely my last review of a Japanese beer from the list for a while now that I’m back in the UK again. After reviewing this one, I’ll be left with only another six Japanese beers from the 1001 beers list to try but one of those appears to no longer be in production so I’m not sure how likely it is that I’ll ever get to try that one sadly. This particular offering is a beer from the Sankt Gallen brewery, the parent company of which used to run a bar in the Roppongi district of Tokyo before opening this brewery in 1997 near Yokohama; initially brewing a golden ale, a pale ale and a porter before expanding in the years to follow

Appearance (4/5): A nice, bright amber colour that had a slightly hazy body topped with a centimetre and a half tall head that was white and foamy with a few bubbles through it and had good initial retention as well; there was a little lacing left on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (6/10): Relatively light on the nose without being an overly weak offering, this one opened with some initial hop bitterness and a few touches of pine before some nice grassy notes started to come through along with some citrus further on. It was a fresh beer with some bread malts and a couple of floral touches towards the end but it could have been a bit stronger.
Taste (7/10): The taste follows on well from the nose with some nice pine and citrus hops coming through early on, with some grassy hops taking more of a backseat this time around. There was some floral touches towards the middle and the beer seemed more resinous tasting than the nose smelt but it was definitely a fresh offering that had some nice orange and grapefruit flavours nearer the end before some biscuit malts and an earthy bitterness seen things out nicely.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite fresh, the beer started a little lighter on the nose that expected but there was more of a strong, resinous feel to it come the taste and there was plenty of bitterness too. I got a slight citrus tang around the middle and it was well-carbonated, coming through as a lively, balanced beer; if only it had been a little stronger initially.

Overall (15/20): Not a bad beer to finish my run of Japanese beer reviews, this one was quite a fresh and lively offering that had some nice pine and citrus hops with plenty bitterness but my biggest complaint was definitely how light it started on the nose. Initially opening with a pine and grassy hop aroma, the beer was quite light and there wasn’t a whole lot going on until the taste with more of a floral bitterness and some bread malts a little further on. It was an interesting offering and one that I’d glad I managed to pick up in the end but I’m not sure it’s one that I’d put in the 1001 beers list given how many excellent American style IPA’s are out there.

Brewed In: Atsugi-sh, Kanagawa, Japan
Brewery: Sankt Gallen Brewery
First Brewed: 2008
Full Name: Sankt Gallen Yokohama XPA Extra Pale Ale
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Liquors Hasegawa (Tokyo Station, Tokyo)
Price: ¥518 (£3.43 approx.)

Harvestmoon Schwarz (369 of 1001)

December 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

One of my last few Japanese beers for a while now, this one being another offering that features in the 1001 beers list and is a bottle that I managed to pick up on my last day in Japan when I spotted it after two plus weeks of looking, finding it in a Liquors Hasegawa store in Tokyo Station before heading back to the airport for my flight home. The bottle I picked up appears to be a 2014 release from the brewery, one from a year that also seen the beer win a silver medal at the Monde Selection awards and this one also marks the fifteenth Japanese beer from the 1001 list that I’ll have reviewed here with the majority being beers that I tried in Japan and leaves another seven to go, although I do have a bottle of one of those still waiting to be tried soon.

Appearance (4/5): Pitch black and opaque looking, this one was very dark with a thin head that sat about half a centimetre tall and was a light beige colour, fading to a thin lacing after a minute or so with some break up around the edges too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite an unexpected nose from this one, there was a lot of roasted malts and dark notes in the early going with far more smoke than anticipated too. Further on there was a coffee bitterness that had a subtle sweetness sitting behind it and some dark, rich smells before a hint of caramel featured towards the end and some grains rounded things off.
Taste (7/10): Caramel malts and a nice sweetness kick things off with the taste, there was a lot of roasted malts and grains not too far behind though with most of them carrying over from the nose. It was again quite a rich beer with some chocolate and earthy flavours around the middle then some of the smoke from the nose making itself known. Towards the end some wood flavours and a little cocoa featured with further sweetness from some vanilla pods seeing things out alongside hints of coffee bitterness.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied, bordering on full at times with a thick feel and plenty of smoke featuring through. This one was a dark and rich offering that was dry towards the end and had plenty of bitterness, mainly from the coffee and roasted malts but it was balanced with some sweetness in there as well thankfully and wasn’t too hard to drink.

Overall (14/20): This one turned out to be quite an interesting offering with nice variety to the beer and a good balance too that helped make it relatively easy to drink. It seemed like it was a stronger offering than the 4.5% abv. on the bottle but this was mainly down to the complexity of the beer rather than any strong alcohol flavours but it was quite a dark and smoky beer too. Further on and some nice sweetness helped to balance things out with the beer, some chocolate flavours featuring to help out but it was the vanilla pods that contributed most in this respect and kept things interesting through; a solid effort and one worth looking out for if you’re in Japan but probably not a beer that I’d go searching for again.

Brewed In: Maihama, Chiba, Japan
Brewery: Roti’s House Harvestmoon Brewery
First Brewed: 2000
Type: Schwarzbier
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Liquors Hasegawa (Tokyo Station, Tokyo)
Price: ¥518 (£3.43 approx.)

Asahi Red Eye

November 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 1.65

The final beer from those that I managed to try on my recent trip to Japan now and one that I tried on my last morning in the country before heading home; I do at least have a couple more Japanese beers to review though after picking some up on my final day in the country. This beer isn’t really one that I was holding out much hope for when I first picked it up but it was a new an unusual beer so I decided to give it a go given I’d likely never see it outside of Japan. Described as part tomato juice and part beer, this one was my fifth Asahi beer and follows on from their Super Dry Black offering that I reviewed here recently but sadly this one wasn’t anywhere near as good as that one.

Appearance (2/5): A light tomato red colour that was pretty much what I’d expected, there was a small foamy lacing on top for a head but this disappeared completely after about twenty seconds though and the beer was an opaque looking one that looked pretty much like a glass of tomato juice after the head vanished.
Aroma (3/10): Opening with tonnes of tomato notes initially, there wasn’t really much to this one beyond that in the early going but further on some background malts did feature, they were very faint though.
Taste (3/10): The initial taste was a very close relation to the nose with tonnes of tomatoes opening and dominating the early going before some basic sweet malts and a tiny bit of citrus started to come through towards the end with subtle grassy flavours too.
Palate (2/5): Surprisingly this one was quite a thin bodied beer with a lot more carbonation than expected too, it was quite a lively but ultimately a basic beer on the way down. There was some touches of sweetness towards the end thanks to the malts but that was about it really.

Overall (5/20): Not a great beer at all, this one was basically an alcoholic tomato juice that was miles behind even a poor Bloody Mary. The beer did have some basic sweet malts and hints of citrus and grassy flavours further on with the taste but it was almost completely dominated by tomato juice flavours and was a struggle to drink. Definitely one that I’d avoid in future, even if you’re usually a tomato juice fan because I can’t see how anyone would enjoy this when the real stuff is probably miles better as well.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Asahi Breweries
First Brewed:  circa. 2012
Type: Fruit/Vegetable Beer
ABV: 3.5%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Don Quijote (Sihinbuya, Tokyo)
Price:¥153 (£1.01 approx.)

Sapporo That’s Hop Mosaic & Citra

November 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.2

The second beer in Sapporo’s Innovative Brewer That’s Hop series now, this one a Mosaic and Citra pale ale that follows on from their Nelson Sauvin version that I reviewed here last after picking both up on the same day from a Tokyo Family Mart store while nearer the end of my time in the city. To be honest, this one wasn’t a beer that I was expecting a lot from but like its predecessor I picked it up because it was one of the few Japanese beers left in the store that I hadn’t already tried at some point over the previous two weeks so I thought I’d give it a go.

Appearance (3/5): A touch lighter than the brewery’s Nelson Sauvin offering in this series but only just, the beer is a golden amber colour that has a half centimetre, bubbly white head with some foamy areas but it holds relatively well initially and covers the majority of the surface too, with only a tiny patch missing at the side too.
Aroma (4/10): Opening with some nice citrus notes and quite a resinous, almost pungent nose that has quite a lot pine coming through in the early going as well. It’s a somewhat skunky offering that seemed slightly unbalanced in the early going, although there was some biscuit and earth notes towards the middle as well. It was lighter and more basic than anticipated and there really wasn’t a lot to the nose in truth.
Taste (4/10):
Subdued citrus flavours with the pine and resinous notes from the nose taking more of a backseat this time around, it also seemed a lighter beer than the nose indicated. Around the middle there was again some biscuit and earthy malts with some grassy hops coming through as well but not much else until some grapes and the odd tropical fruit flavour featured at the end.
Palate (2/5):
Medium bodied, perhaps a little lighter at times with some citrus showing and a floral bitterness throughout as well. The beer was basic and didn’t have the best balance with it seeming gassy at times, although it did remain drinkable for the most part but it’s not one I’d go back to.

Overall (8/20): Quite a basic beer and one that sadly wasn’t that enjoyable either, the beer was actually a lot like the Nelson Sauvin in this Sapporo series that came before it and one that was more difficult to drink than I’d have liked. It was an unbalanced offering with some citrus and pine flavours but little else coming through for the most part expect the usual grassy hops and biscuit malts; a cheap and poor offering that I’d avoid in future.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Sapporo Breweries
First Brewed: 2017
Full Name: Sapporo Innovative Brewer That’s Hop Zetsumyo no Mosaic & Citra
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Family Mart (Shin-Okubo, Tokyo)
Price: ¥262 (£1.74 approx.)