Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hitachino round-up

BGH had Hitachino Nest ale in the hub last night, the products of the Kiuchi Brewery in Naka, Japan. According to wiki, Kiuchi "products combine European beer-making technology with traditional Japanese brewing techniques; for example, its XH Hitachino Nest Beer is matured in shochu [rice liquor, not to be confused with sake] casks."

I was psyched for this because not only are these beers almost completely unavailable in the states (you won't see any but the White and maybe the Ginger on tap, certainly not on the east coast) but I <3 spicy beers like a 13 year old <3s Edward, and who uses Ginger like the Japanese? So needless to say: excitement

Unfortunately the promised XH ale did not make the trip, but the bar did have these five on tap:

Hitachino Commemorative Ale / Japan / 9% / 12oz / $6

[Relevant BGH notes: "Rare as eff"]

Hitachino Espresso Stout / Japan / 7.5% / 12oz / $6

[Relevant BGH notes: "A near perfect, dark warming beer."]

Hitachino Real Ginger Ale / Japan / 7% / 12oz / $6

Hitachino White Ale / Japan / 5% / 12oz / $6

Hitachino Red Rice Ale / Japan / 7% / 12oz / $6

I had three beers: the Commemorative, the Espresso Stout, and the Real Ginger, with my favorite a toss-up between the first two. The Commemorative was a rich, strong winter ale, not to dark, well-spiced with fruit and earthy notes, something quite different and delicious. I want to say there was something of a Belgian beer to it, but that could just be my experience of "otherness": a classic American winter ale it was not, but it was rich, light, tasty as all get out and surprisingly and un-noticeably strong (9%). The Espresso Stout was a deep, rich dark ale with balanced notes of chocolate and burnt coffee bean, with (again) a subtle pleasant spicy kick that I couldn't attribute to anything. It wasn't as thick as I'd peg a 7.5% stout or porter to be. If you're curious, the snobs at BA give the first a B+ and the second an A-.

The ginger was an odd thing, but I enjoyed it. I've often said if you love ginger in beer you can't use too much of it, and this puts it to the taste. It was almost soda tasting, like a 7up or sparkling iced tea, and I can guarantee Sam wouldn't like it. But it went down ea-zy. Waaaaay too easy for a 7% alcohol beer.

All in all, a fantastic, well-attended event, with the usual plates of free cheese and prosciutto. I've been reading a lot about Japanese beer culture recently, and I mean to make a post of it soon.

One last thought: As rare as these are, it was pretty cool of BGH to make them available for $6. What a church of beer.

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