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Suiyoubi No Neko

October 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.1

A complete lucky dip when I picked this can up after spotting it in a Lawson’s Station convenience store on a recent trip to Japan and discovering that the entire can was written in Japanese (or Romanised Japanese in the case of the name). I had spotted this can in a number of different shops in the early part of my trip but given that I didn’t have a clue who brewed the beer or what style it was, I had opted to avoid it initially but after working my way through the majority of the other craft beers I eventually picked up a can in Kyoto. As it turned out, the beer is a witbier from Yo-Ho and therefore the third of their beers that I’ll have reviewed, with another one still to follow.

Appearance (3/5): Light amber to golden-yellow with a slightly cloudy body but not as light as expected for a witbier. There was a thin, foamy white head on top that was more of a fine lacing around the sides of the glass with a slightly bigger patch in the centre.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some wheat and cloves, there is a nice citrus and lemon backing to the beer with touches of Belgian yeast in the early going too. I managed to get some background banana and coriander towards the middle before the odd sugar rounded things off but like most Japanese craft beers I’ve tried to this point, the beer was definitely quite a light one on the nose.
Taste (6/10):
Starting with a combination of banana, clove and some wheat, the beer is thankfully a little stronger than the nose and has some subtle spices in there too. Further on and some coriander comes through, as does touches of bread malt and further citrus to see things out nicely.
Palate (3/5):
Light-medium bodied and fairly well-balanced too, the beer could definitely have been stronger but it wasn’t the worst. I got some subtle spices and background citrus which added a nice tang to an otherwise clean and basic beer.

Overall (14/20): Quite an average offering from Yo-Ho and definitely not the best I’ve tried from them, the beer was a lot light numerous other Japanese craft beers I’ve tried recently, basically it was quite weak and light. There was some pleasant banana and cloves flavours coming through alongside touches of citrus and wheat but it wasn’t exactly what I’d been expecting and it seemed miles behind some of the better European versions of this style.

Brewed In: Nagano, Japan
Brewery: Yo-Ho Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Witbier
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Lawson’s Station (Kyoto)
Price: ¥268 (£1.78 approx.)

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Kyoto Pale Ale

October 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.5

Another local beer to the Kyoto region of Japan that I managed to try whilst visiting the city at the end of last month on my recent trip to Japan, this one coming from the Kizakura rather than the Kyoto Brewing Company that was responsible for the draft Ichii Senshin that I reviewed here in my last but one review. I picked up a can of this one from a Kyoto liquor store after spotting it available alongside three other beers from the same brewery, although I did manage to try a further one of those cans later on my trip.

Appearance (4/5): Cloudy and golden amber, there was a fluffy looking head on this one that was a centimetre tall and held its initial height for a minute or so before receding slightly.
Aroma (4/10): The can was still a fresh on when I opened it but the nose was definitely very light, I didn’t get much of anything to go on initially but then some subtle citrus notes featured alongside the odd bread malt. There was some lemon further on as well as a faint sweetness and some lager malts too; it was definitely a weak and disappointing aroma.
Taste (5/10):
A marginal improvement on the nose, there was some citrus and lemon in the early going but not a great deal to go on sadly. Towards the middle some biscuit malts and bread flavours started to show but again it was basic and weak, some earthy hops and grassy flavours starting to appear but again it was poor.
Palate (2/5):
Initially quite a weak and bland offering, the citrus added a subtle freshness but this was short-lived. It was moderately carbonated and there was some basic malts and a faint bitterness off the back of this but beyond that there wasn’t much to go on really.

Overall (8/20): This one was a very poor and disappointing beer that seemed weak and well past its best despite the fact that it was well within date going by the writing on the can and only being brewed two months prior. There was slightly more going on with the taste than there was with the nose but it was still one-dimensional and basic with some grassy flavours and hay further on. The name on the can was a bit of a misdirection as well, it’s definitely more of a kölsch than it is pale ale; not one that I’d recommend.

Brewed In: Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan
Brewery: Kizakura
First Brewed: circa. 2007
Also Known As: Kyoto Kölsch
Type: Kölsch
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Liquor Market Kent Boy’s (Kyoto)
Price: ¥324 (£2.15 approx.)

Categories: Kölsch Tags: , , , ,

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.)

Kirin Tanrei Green Label

October 18, 2017 Leave a comment

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.)

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.)

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.)

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