I’m sure most readers of The Brew Club, like me, love finding new brews and brewers, and when I stumbled across a few ‘Hitachino Nest’ brews from the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan, I simply couldn’t resist.
I’ve been to Japan a few times, and while I enjoyed their brews when I was there, there were none that I would necessarily write home about.
Hitachino (the name translates to ‘abundant forest’) Nest brews hail from the small city of Naka, about 70 miles north east of Tokyo – that’s halfway between Tokyo and Fukushima. The brewery sustained some minor damage during the 2011 earthquake, but was brewing again within a week.
The Kiuchi Brewery was founded in 1823 as a Sake brewery, diversifying into beers only in late 1996, they now brew a range of eleven beers, many of which have won international awards. By all accounts they ARE available in the states.
The first of their brews that caught my eye was their ‘White Ale’ with the brewery’s trademark Owl staring out from the label. This is brewed in traditional Belgian style, with a recipe that includes Lager and Wheat malts, Perle and Styrian Golding hops, coriander, orange peel, nutmeg and orange juice.
Okay, let’s see what Japanese craft beers are all about:
Well it pours a pale golden colour, very cloudy, a combination of sediment (this is bottle conditioned) and ‘colloidal turbidity’, with an enthusiastic head that fades quickly.
There’s not too much nose, but what there is, is heady with citrus and pineapple chunks.
There are pineapple chunks in the flavour too, but overall it’s very subtle, not ‘in your face’ like some white beers.
It’s all very pleasant, but in all honesty I’m not sure it merits the ‘beer miles’. I can think of a dozen white beers that I would turn to before this and none of them have travelled 5,900 miles. If I lived in the Far East, then that situation would be reversed and I would happily turn to this over the mainstream Japanese brews.
As such I’ll give it three stars.
Bob the Brit
Some of the more exotic Hitachino Nest beers are brewed with rare Japanese hops, and matured in Sake barrels… I suspect this might be the start of a journey of exploration.