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Import Friday – A Pair of Japanese Owls

April 2, 2010

I’m doubling up the fun today with two brews from Kiuchi Brewery, Ibaraki, Japan.  You might be more familiar with the name ‘Hitachino Nest’. They’re fairly new to the BC scene. You can thank Beerthirst for getting them over here. They have a reputation for producing good beers with a Japanese twist to them. I was only able to find the Red Rice and Japanese Classic Ale at Village Green Liquor Store in Vernon.

First up is the Red Rice, and holy this beer has the most unusual smelling beer I’ve come across. My best attempt to sum up the aroma is that it smells like an alcoholic, starchy, fruit, gummy bear. Yeah, it’s weird, but very alluring. Add an orange-tangerine-peachy colour to this you have a one-of-a-kind beer. It doesn’t disappoint. It tastes less like a gummy bear than you’d think from the smell and that general ‘fruit’ flavour turns in to a strawberry-like flavour. Toss in some yeastiness and some graininess, then some toasted rice and an almost earthilike quality and you get Kiuchi’s Hitachino Nest Red Rice. Only the Japanese could produce something so weird, yet so good.

Rating: Good
Style: ??
ABV: 7.0%
Serving Temp: 8-13ºC

Now on the Japanese Classic Ale. The label say “This Japanese classic ale is a recreation of the Japanese beer made in the Edo period. Please enjoy the Japanese taste, aged in cedar barrels like the old IPA style method from England.” Wikipedia tells me that the Edo period lasted between 1603–1868. Then there was a lot of reading on stuff I don’t understand, like shoguns and pre-modern Japanese politics. Interestingly Mount Fuji last erupted during this time period in 1707.

I’ve seen everybody call this an ‘IPA’. But my readings on Wikipedia lead me to believe otherwise. So do my taste buds. The only Europeans allowed in during the Edo period were the Dutch. Sokoku wasn’t lifted until the end of the Edo period. Interesting.

Let just drink this thing. It’s a bright peachy-light orange colour with a woody-earthy, smokey aroma with touches of citrus and spiciness. Again quite a unique aroma. Not out there like the Red Rice. You can really smell that cedar aging. I’ve only heard of one other brewing practising cedar aging. They’re in the states and I forget the brewery’s name. When you drink it you can start to detect the hops and the smokiness picks up. The cedar is there throughout the whole thing with a light sweet malt mingled with it. It’s beautifully balanced. Smooth. A delight.

Man, I’m having such a hard time trying to quantify these fantastic complex beers. The best thing to do is to seek them out and have your idea on what beer can be changed. These 400+ words I’ve already typed would probably be best replaced with the two previous sentences, but I already typed them so they’re staying.

Rating: Good
Style: Strong Japanese Ale (Cedar Aged)
ABV: 7.5%
Serving Temp: 10-13ºC


From → Beer, Import

  1. I lived in Japan for two years and scarcely came across a single beer I’d consider half good. And I tried. Seems like they must send them all to Canada. They are a truly weird collaboration of stoics.

    • I’ve been hearing the brewing scene has been rapidly expanding over the last couple years. From what else I’ve been hearing is that it’s either good, or bad. No middle road.

      Baird and Takashi apparently make good imperial stouts.

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