Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New Beers from The Japanese Majors in 2013: Sapporo / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2013: Sapporo

One more month left to go until 2014. It's time to look around and take stock of new beers brought out in 2013 by the four major breweries in Japan: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory. I'll discuss them each in a separate post. I'll also give the style, alcohol by volume, and the current RateBeer weighted average score followed by my rating score (out of a possible 5), keeping in mind that most of them have fewer than ten ratings. 

For number three, we'll check out this year's new beers from Sapporo Breweries.

 Sapporo Yebisu Joel Robuchon
Sapporo Yebisu Joel Robuchon   
(Premium Lager 5%)     2.96 / 3.3
This limited brew has a lightly stinky hop aroma from a healthy amount of Nelson Sauvin hops. The color is a very bright clear yellow, with a really fluffy, strangely shiny white head (like a slick baked meringue). The mild grassy initial flavor has some punch to it, then the hops emerge nicely, for just a moment, finally the  flavor goes flatl, with some prickly hop bites in the aftertaste. Thin body. The aroma is great for a lager like this, but flavor does not impress so much. Some people think that this was the best new beer of the year from any of the major beer companies. Unfortunately, it pretty much disappeared from the shelves about a month after it was released. Hoping it makes a come-back next year.

Sapporo Yebisu Premium Black     
(Schwarzbier 5%)     2.92 / 2.9
This beer has a small nose of chocolate and a bit of prune. A very mild roast initial is followed by decent balance in mid palate, and the finish has very minimal flavors, for a dark brew like this. The body is thin-medium body, and maybe just a bit too thin. Very drinkable stuff. I certainly liked the regular Yebisu Black Beer better than this one. However, what I’d love is to have the old Sapporo Black again -- haven't seen that one for several years. That was a superb schwarzbier beer (see Michael Jackson's books for his opinion on that one).

 Sapporo Mugi To Hoppu Zeitaku Hatsudzumi
Sapporo Mugi To Hoppu Zeitaku Hatsudzumi      
(Pale Lager 5%)     2.71 / 2.5
This brew has a light sewery scent, along with lemon and peaches -- but the advertised Czech hops don’t come through. It offers a moderate and slightly rasty maltiness, but is fairly nondescript overall. However, the typically nasty happoshu flavors are not really present. This "Mugi to Hoppu" happoshu series by Sapporo is by far the "best" of any from the Japanese majors.

 Sapporo Mugi to Hoppu Aka
Mugi to Hoppu Aka     
(Amber Lager/Vienna 5%)     2.7 / 2.4
The aroma is of light sweetish malt, roasted grain, and dark fruit. It pours out brownish-amber with a thin head and big carbonation bubbling up. The flavors is primarily candyish roast malt, there is also an off-flavor sort of bitterness (not like hops). It's not ot really terrible. Somehow the roastiness covers the normal roughness and crude character that most happoshu has.
Sapporo Goku Zero
Sapporo Goku Zero     
(Pale Lager 4%)     2.59 / 1.5
This lousy brews has an aroma of apple juice and soap. It's a bright golden straw color with zero head. Flavors of peaches, cardboard, apples, with almost no bittering. The final is a touch harsh. This is fruit juice beer. Although it is close to zero ... I’ll give it 1.5.
Sapporo Kuradashi Draft Beer
Kuradashi Draft Beer     
(Pale Lager 4.5%)     2.59 / 2.4
A mild sweet aroma, with an extract notes. Light straw color, frothy head. Very bland sort of malty initial, with a bit of tang and sweetness in mid palate, and light bitter traces with metallic notes in final. Thin-medium body. Not so bad. But it seems to tend toward happoshu characteristics.

Sapporo Toko Natsu Ki Bun
Toko Natsu Ki Bun     
(Pale Lager 5%)     2.55 / 1.6
A very sharp, sewage-soaked cardboardy nose. Thin, hazy apple juice color, small head. Tart, harsh fruit, which fades into mild sauerkraut. The finish is a typical happoshu dusting of light sugary sweetness. Thin body. Nothing special abut this one. A total waste of the Apollo and Cascade hops, which really aren’t detectable.


  1. I often buy Kirin's beer or soda water&spirit. But I'll try Sapporo's ones.
    I wanna try Mugi to Hoppu Aka in these pictures :D
    Of course, if I can, I try all of these!

  2. Overall, I think Sapporo makes better beer than Kirin. The Mugi to Hoppu series beers are not great -- but they are definitely the best happoshu.