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Asahi Red Eye

November 30, 2017 Leave a 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.)

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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.)

Sapporo That’s Hop Nelson Sauvin

November 23, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 2.35

The first of two Sapporo beers I tried in Tokyo last month that fall under their Innovative Brewer That’s Hop series, this one being a Nelson Sauvin American pale ale from the brewery that I picked up at a Family Mart store near our accommodation in the Shin-Okubo area of Tokyo towards the end of my holiday in Japan. The beer is one that I’d spotted once or twice while in Japan but had overlooked in favour of most well-known offerings but with only a day or two left in the country I opted to give it a go and see how it compared to other Japanese craft beers that I tried when in the country. The beer looked to be quite a new offering from Sapporo and the first reviews online are only dated from around the time I tried the can so I can only assume it was a new release when I picked it up and I can’t be sure if it’s a seasonal, limited release or year-round offering either but it’s definitely not one that I’m glad I picked up sadly.

Appearance (3/5): This one sits a golden amber in the glass with a large, centimetre and a half tall head that is frothy looking and white but it took quite an aggressive pour for it to reach such heights. There was okay retention that followed with the beer topped with a thin surface lacing after a minute or so with a tiny bit of break up at this point too.
Aroma (4/10): The beer opens with strong, almost pungent citrus and pine hops that seemed a little harsh and uneven but at least it wasn’t a weak offering. There was some grape and lemon with lighter grassy notes towards the middle and some fusty notes as well sadly. Towards the end I got some biscuit malts and a few more earthy hops which made for quite a strange nose overall.
Taste (5/10):
Following on in a similar vein to the nose, although thankfully a little better tasting, this one opened with some citrus and a couple of pines hops with an almost resinous taste but one that was less pungent than the nose seemed to be. There was some background fruits with touches of grapefruits, some tropical flavours and a hint of grape but none really seemed to jump out at you. The taste was rounded off with some biscuit flavours and a floral bitterness and although an improvement on the nose, it still wasn’t all that good of a beer.
Palate (2/5):
Light-medium and quite hoppy to start, the beer was fresh initially too but soon faded towards the middle and seemed slightly weaker at this point too. There wasn’t much in the way of balance with a pungent hop nose kicking things off and lots of resinous pine dominating the taste early on too, sadly it was also a little gassy with the carbonation levels almost seeming overdone which made it quite a disappointing beer overall.

Overall (9/20): An interesting change up from the usual pale lagers and dark lagers that I’ve tried from Sapporo but ultimately this one ended up being another poor offering from the brewery and one that seemed unbalanced, cheap and a little basic at times. It started with some citrus and pine but both seemed overdone and didn’t help the balance of the beer much either. There was some background fruits and basic malts adding a little sweetness towards the end but it was over-carbonated and hard to drink at times; definitely not one that I’d pick up again I’m afraid.

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

Grand Kirin IPA

November 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.4

The second beer in this series from the Kirin brewery now, this one is a new beer from them for 2017 that was released around the same time as their Grand Kirin White Ale that I reviewed here a short time ago. This one is actually a beer that I tried earlier on during my trip to Japan without review it but eventually I got around to it when I returned to Tokyo towards the end of my holiday and was struggling to find new beers in the local convenience stores late at night. This beer will be my sixth review of a Kirin beer here as well, with the majority of those being beers that I found in Japan so I imagine this will be my last new one from the brewery for quite some time too.

Appearance (3/5): A slightly darker than average amber colour for the style that had a clear body and a thin, foamy white head on top that was more of a surface lacing than anything else but it did at least cover the surface of the beer without any patches initially.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with some light hops and citrus, there was some grapefruit and lime in the early going with this one too and it had quite a zesty, fresh feel on the nose with some biscuit and bread malts coming through further on. Around the middle I got some pleasant grassy notes and a subtle tropical sweetness with the odd sugar in there too.
Taste (6/10):
Fresh and quite zesty tasting initially with some citrus, lime and orange flavours coming through alongside a resinous pine taste and some grapefruit. Towards the middle these flavours were backed up by a few tropical fruits; most notably some mango and apricot but neither were particularly strong. Towards the end some biscuit malts from the nose came through to see things out alongside some earthy malts too.
Palate (4/5):
Somewhere around medium bodied with a fresh feel than anticipated for a mass-market beer like this one but it was helped with the zesty touches and citrus that featured in the early going. There was a solid bitterness throughout the beer with a nice balance and a sessionable feel that had some nice sweetness from the middle on which made it a basic but easy-going IPA that I’d happily have again.

Overall (14/20): This one was definitely a better than expected IPA from Kirin , particularly when you consider they are more at home putting out cheap pale lagers but this one wasn’t too bad at all. It was quite a fresh beer with a liveliness about it that went well with a hop bitterness and citrus that featured from the start. It was definitely an easy beer to drink as well, going down nicely thanks to the balance with a subtle tropical sweetness leveling out the bitterness and some nice malts towards the end too; this is one that I’d have again.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Kirin Brewery Company
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American IPA
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Family Mart (Sin-Okubo, Tokyo)
Price: ¥297 (£1.97 approx.)

Wabi-Sabi Japan Pale Ale

November 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

My sixth Baird offering and one that  follows on from their similar sounding Yabai Yabai Strong Scotch Ale, this one will be my second seasonal offering from Baird and another that I tried at their Harajuku taproom, having been on the look out for the beer before travelling to Japan. Unknown to me at the time, this one is a June seasonal from the brewery that is a cross between a pale ale and an IPA that uses a combination of Japanese wasabi and green tea in the brewing process to create a unique beer that I’m glad was available on my visit to the taproom.

Appearance (4/5): Copper amber in colour with quite a thin, foamy white head on top that fades to a patchy lacing on the surface after a few minutes whilst the beer itself is quite clear and still looking.
Aroma (7/10): Green tea and a few subtle hops kick things off with some biscuit notes and a nice bitterness towards the middle. The beer also had some citrus coming through with a faint spice and touches of wasabi at the end but it could have probably been a little stronger too.
Taste (7/10): Thankfully a little stronger than the nose was and some through slightly fresher too, the taste opens with a pleasant green tea taste that has some match in there and a subtle bitterness towards the middle too. It’s still not an overly strong offering but some spices and wasabi did feature with a few earthy malts and herbal flavours in there as well.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite earthy feeling with some herbal bitterness but it was still relatively fresh as well. The beer had strong carbonation and was easy to drink, although it was more basic and lighter than I expected with some subtle spice seeing things out.

Overall (15/20): Nice stuff again from Baird and one that I enjoyed despite the fact that it was quite a bit lighter than I’d hoped for going in, it was however a fresh offering with good carbonation and some nice green tea, match and wasabi flavours that you don’t find in a beer very often; it’s just a shame that none of them seemed overly pronounced. It was a pleasant enough offering with some hop bitterness at times too and the balance was a nice one but I doubt it’s a beer that I’d be in a rush to try a second time.

Brewed In: Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan
Brewery: Baird Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Herb/Spiced Beer
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Keg (250ml)
Purchased: Baird Tap Room Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan
Price: ¥600 (£3.97 approx.)

Asahi Super Dry Black

November 14, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

Not to be confused with the similarly named Asahi Black that I reviewed here a few years ago, this one is another dark beer from the brewery that I managed to try in Japan last month and one that is also my penultimate new offering from the brewery that I tried in the country. Seemingly a 2012 release, this one is a newer beer that their Asahi Black (or Asahi Kuronama as it is sometimes known) but unlike that offering, this one isn’t a beer that features in the 1001 beers list sadly. I managed to try this one in a Tokyo whale meat restaurant on my last full night in Japan and opted for it as the only non-pale lager on the menu despite it being one that I had already tried early on my trip to Japan; it is also a nice one to check off since it doesn’t appear to be an Asahi beer that is readily available in the UK either.

Appearance (4/5): Really dark mahogany to black in colour and sitting with an opaque body, this one has quite a thin head on top that sits just under a centimetre tall but fades to a thin surface lacing after about thirty seconds, with a little more build up around the edges at least.
Aroma (6/10): Darker malts and some roasted notes kick things off here, there was some earthy bitterness and light coffee in the early going too but neither overpowered thankfully. A little further on there was some grassy smells and a little sweetness but it was quite a basic, almost weak nose at times.
Taste (7/10): The beer opens with some dark and roasted malts, there was some chocolate showing too which provided an early sweetness that only showed towards the end of the taste. Around the middle some grains and subtle hops featured with a few touches of hay before coffee and earthy malts seen things out nicely.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and not overly dry despite the name, the beer was dark and bordered on fresh with a subtle hop bitterness that fades and turns almost watery further on. It was however an easy to drink beer with a nice balance without it being anything overly special on the way down.

Overall (14/20): This one was a fairly enjoyable offering from Asahi and a nice change from the usual pale lagers I was drinking with dinner most nights in Japan, this one was lively and fresh with a slightly dry feel at the end. There was plenty of roasted and dark malts throughout with some grains, hay and grassy hops working well together to help this one go down easily enough.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Asahi Breweries
First Brewed:  2012
Type: Schwarzbier/Black Lager
ABV: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (334ml)
Purchased: Kujiraya, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Price: ¥450 (£2.98 approx.)

Angry Boy Brown Ale (368 of 1001)

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

Following quickly on from their Yabai Yabai Strong Scotch Ale, this one was the third beer from Baird that I managed to try from them in Japan and the second of the day; it was also my second keg offering from them after previously enjoying their Rising Sun Pale Ale in Tokyo a couple of days previously. Like the review of the Rising Sun Pale Ale, this one is another beer from the brewery that features on the 1001 beers list and is actually one I found in a bar in York a few years ago but never got round to ordering at the time so I was definitely keen to try it in Japan if I managed to find it anywhere. After reviewing this particular Japanese beer from the 1001 list, I am now left with eight more to check off and given this was the last Baird offering for me to try I decided to pay their Harajuku taproom in Tokyo a visit towards the end of my holiday in order to tick it off. Originally beginning life as a seasonal offering and a 6.2% abv. beer back in 2001, this one is now a regular in the Baird line up and the version I tried came in slightly stronger at 7% abv. as well.

Appearance (4/5): Caramel amber and quite clear with a one and a half centimetre tall, foamy head that is an off-white colour and holds with good retention over the opening minutes with some nice lacing on the sides and quite a thick look to it.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a light aroma here, there was some caramel and a slightly nutty smell with a couple of roasted malts and grains following on behind. The beer seemed fresh on the nose with a few subtle hops further on and grassy touches nearer the end without it ever really being as strong as I’d have liked.
Taste (7/10): Light, almost roasted malts and nut flavours kick things off with the taste before some subtle hops and citrus start to come through towards the middle. The beer was again fresh with a grassy hop taste further on and faint caramel that carried over from the nose featuring towards the end without it being as sweet as the nose, it was at least slightly stronger though.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite a clean beer on the palate, this one had some subtle hop bitterness coming through and it was moderately carbonated and easy to drink but also a little basic at times.

Overall (14/20): Quite a pleasant offering from Baird, albeit one that came through slightly lighter than expected but at least it was fresh and had some bitterness showing too. The beer was easy to drink and balanced with some subtle hops showing without being overly pronounced and overall the beer was quite a clean, sessionable offering that was well worth trying too.

Brewed In: Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan
Brewery: Baird Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2001
Type: Brown Ale
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Keg (250ml)
Purchased: Baird Tap Room Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan
Price: ¥600 (£3.97 approx.)