Saturday, 17 November 2012

16 Japanese beers & 1 Dried Sotong Predator.

Behold, the Great Japanese Beer Pyramid!

It started out with the three of us walking around aimlessly with around Kyoto wondering what to do. Then we stopped by a liquor store and saw this:


So we bought a couple of different beers each to take back to the room to try. At first we only had about 7 beers. Then we ran out of beer, and decided to walk all the way out to the Lawson 24-hour store to get ANOTHER nine different beers. AAAND we finished everything that very night.

As you can see, most of the beers are from the big four of Japanese beer - Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory - though we did manage to get our hands on a few Kyoto craft beers though, so that was interesting.

We didn't try the ones we'd already had before, such as Suntory The Premium Malt's or Asahi Dry, but we tried to get as much variety as possible (though even that was hard, because most of the Japanese commercial beers tend to be lagers and pilsners, or Happoshu, which is a type of 'beer' that has less than 67% malt content.

We even had a run in with a dried sotong that looked like a Predator:

Anyway, what did we learn from this binge... er.. extensive tasting? First of all, most Japanese beers taste the same. The craft beers from Haneda Brewery were interesting, but not exactly distinctive. Secondly, it's hard to distinguish one lager from the other when you've already tried 10 others before it. Third: IF you want a beer with flavour.. don't drink a happoshu.

Anyway, here's what we drank that night, based on what I managed to tag on my Untappd account:

1) Kyoto Kolsch
(Haneda Sake Brewery)
Style: Kölsch
Tasting Notes: Craft beer brewed in Kyoto. Other than the hint of sake rice in the nose, it's light and otherwise unremarkable.

2) Winter Limited Edition
(Kirin Brewery Company)
Style: Pilsner
Tasting Notes: MEH

3) Yebisu Premium
(Sapporo Breweries)
Style: Dortmunder / Export Lager
Tasting Notes: Ngeh. Ordinary. Prefer Suntory Premium Malt's.

4) ICHIBAN 2012 Hop Harvest
(Kirin Brewery Company)
Style: Pilsner
Tasting Notes: Pretty good for a pilsner. Good malty hoppy notes. A 2012 limited edition.

5) Asahi Off
(Asahi Breweries)
Style: Pale Lager
Tasting Notes: Not bad. Slightly more flavour than the normal Asahi Dry. Nothing "off" about it, heh heh.

6) Hokkaido Premium
(Sapporo Breweries)
Style: Happoshu
Tasting: Premium my foot. Sure, it's got slightly more flavor than the usual happoshu, but it's still almost tasteless.

7) Kohaku Yebisu
(Sapporo Breweries)
Style: American Amber / Red Ale
Tasting Notes: This was interesting. A nice departure from the usual Yebisu, and an ALE for a change.

8) Suntory Rich Malt
Style: Japanese Rice Lager
Tasting Notes: Not bad actually. Hint of rice, and nice distinctive flavor, for a lager.

9) Asahi Style Free
(Asahi Breweries)
Style: Happoshu
Tasting Notes: Er... light and bland

10) The Winter's Tale
(Sapporo Breweries)
Style: Pilsner
Tasting Notes: I think it's a 25 Year Anniversary limited edition or something. Not bad. It's still a lager, but with some nice flavors.

11) Clear Asahi
(Asahi Breweries)
Style: Pale Lager
Tasting Notes: It's like Asahi Dry, but Lite. Which is like saying it has NO TASTE AT ALL.

12) Syuzan Kaido Weizen
(Haneda Sake Brewery)
Style: Kölsch
Tasting Notes: Craft beer from Kyoto. Pretty decent. Good bite, nice malty nose.

13) Asahi Super Dry Dry Black
(Asahi Breweries)
Style: Black Lager
Tasting Notes: No nose at all, hardly any taste. Like Asahi Dry but with more body. Very unlike the Asahi Black I had before.

14) Kyoto Amber Ale
(Haneda Sake Brewery)
Style: English Brown Ale
Tasting Notes: Kyoto-brewed craft beer.. Decent hoppy nose, but a bit flat taste-wise.

15) Tanrei Green Label
(Kirin Brewery Company)
Style: Happoshu
Tasting Notes: Light. And er... nothing else

16) Nodogoshi Nama
(Kirin Brewery Company)
Style: Happoshu
Tasting Notes: It's a happoshu, so there really isn't much to shout about in terms of the taste.


Other than the 16 beers above, I later tried another two beers, just for the heck of it:

17) Asahi Direct Shot 
(Asahi Breweries)
Style: Happoshu
Tasting notes: I think the name says it all. It's just a direct shot of alcohol (5% only though), with hardly any taste.

18) Hitachino Nest Ancient Nipponia
(Kiuchi Brewery)
Style: Golden Ale
Tasting notes: At 6.5%ABV, this was the strongest beer I had throughout the trip, would you believe it. the rest were like 5.5% or less, WTF. Anyway, this is supposedly brewed with two traditional Japanese ingredients: the ancient Japanese Kaneko Golden barley, and Sorachi Ace, a hop that used to be from Japan. It was surprisingly light, but there was a nice hoppy, yeasty nose to it. Not much of a body, but a nice, crisp if a bit strange tasting beer.

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