Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sampling Session -- November 3, 2012

Last weekend, we had a beer sampling session and then attended Tadg’s Bar & AQ Bevolution Epic Brewing Co. & Gyoza Party in Kyoto. AQ Bevolution is one of the newer beer distributors bringing great U.S. craft beer to Japan.

First, some of the sampling highlights:

Weyerbacher Insanity  --  4 (out of 5)
This one was a 2010 vintage bottle. Big sweet oak nose. Clear dark brown with a thin touch of foam. Very smooth sweet initial flavors, with a lot of heavy oak in mid palate. Some bourbon emerged near the end. Great mouth feel. Lovely stuff.

Mikkeller/To Øl Walk On Water  --  3.8
Big sweetness and grapefruit in the nose. At first, the alcohol is like a hard slap. Golden blond color. Slightly sour, and then it becomes very sweet. Strong fruit notes: peaches, oranges, prunes. A heavy-hitting beer, full of flavors.

St. Bernardus Prior 8  --  3.7
2005 vintage. Smooth, rich fruit aroma -- prunes, raisins, dates -- and dark sugar. Watery brown color. Very mild fruity initial; the alcohol becomes noticeable in mid palate; flavors smoothly slip away in final. Perhaps it has lost a bit of its flavor over the seven years, but it has also mellowed very nicely.

Deschutes Conflux No. 1 – Collage  --  3.5
The is a collaboration beer, which is a blend of Deschutes’ The Dissident and The Stoic, and Hair of the Dog’s Fred and Adam. Sharp phenolic nose, some vinegar, a slight chemical note, too. Clear dark brown brandy-like color. The distinctive characteristics of each of the four brews are mellowed out into a kind of sweet beer soup. The oak comes out clearly in the finish. I do like this, but would really prefer to drink the four beers by themselves, as individual experiences.

Thanks to Albert of AQ Bevolution, we had a chance to sample several brews from Utah's Epic Brewing Co., both bottled or on tap, including the following:

Epic Brainless Belgian-Style Golden Ale  --  4
Fruity nose (peach, berries), with light hopping. Clear medium dark straw color. Beautiful peach flavor in initial; this strengthens in mid palate; in the finish, it all levels out and glides down to a pleasant sweetness. Lip-smacking stuff.

Epic Hopulent IPA  --  3.8
Great stinky hop aroma. Cloudy orange color. Hops dominate the initial; a mild sweet fruitiness emerges in mid palate; final leaves strong tracks of hop bitterness. Very good.

Epic / DC Brau Fermentation Without Representation  --  3.6 
Epic’s first collaboration brew. Good coffee nose, with pumpkin and spice. Very spicy initial flavor; mid palate has some chocolate notes; the finish lets the chocolate develop a bit more. I hate pumpkin pie, but I like this.
Epic Brainless on Peaches  --  3.5
Mild yeastiness and very fresh fruity nose. Pretty hazy orangeish color. Mild initial; the peaches are not apparent until the finish. Very pleasant stuff.

AQ Bevolution


  1. You really like beer!! Please recommend me one of your favorite beer!!

    Shosuke Doi

    1. Shosuke,

      There are sooo many kinds of beer that it's hard for me to recommend one. But try Yona Yona Ale or Grand Kirin (from a 7-11 convenience store). Try different types and see what kind you like. And.... I assume that you are 20 years old, yes?

  2. I walked away from Conflux feeling it needed a year or two on the shelf to mellow. What do you think?

    1. Jonathan,

      A friend of mine has another bottle of it. He'll lay it down for a year or so, and then we'll try it again. However, Conflux was brewed in March 2010 and barrel-aged for two years before release, so I'm wondering how much better it will get.

      You're in Korea, right? I lived there for five years (Seoul, Jeonju, Kwangju). How's the beer scene there these days? A friend here in Japan has said that we should go over there and check out the brewpubs, but from what I've seen on RateBeer it doesn't look so good.

    2. Sorry for the delay on this--I just saw your reply the other day!

      You make a good point about the prior aging on Collage. In the end, they may have taken their experiment in blending a little too far.

      As for the beer scene in Korea, it is making progress to a degree, but it's unfortunate to see that most of the improvements in beer actually brewed in Korea are being lead by foreign, not Korean initiatives.

      Basically, from what I can tell of the scene in Japan, Korea is now where Japan was 15 years ago. An unfortunate but recurring situation! :(