Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Beers from the Japanese Major Brewing Companies in 2014: Kirin / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2014: Kirin

We’re into the new year now. It's time to look around and take stock of new beers brought out in 2014 by the four major breweries in Japan: Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, and Suntory. I'll discuss them each in a separate post. I'll also give the style and the current RateBeer weighted average score followed by my own rating score (both scores out of a possible total score of 5), keeping in mind that most of them have fewer than ten ratings.

Let’s start with Kirin. All the major brewers have seen sales downturns over the past several years, but Kirin’s has been the worst among the four.

Here are four new brews in the Grand Kirin series, which was launched last year.

 Kirin Grand Kirin Bittersweet  
                                       (Amber Lager/Vienna)        2.96     3.3
Light but pungent aroma hopping, mid maltiness, watered-down raisins. Dark amber/brown color, fluffy and fat-bubbled head. Light sweet fruity initial, balanced soon with sourish and tangy hopping. Flattens out quickly and finishes with small tingling hop tracks. Thin-medium body. Very pleasant in a very small way.

 Kirin Grand Kirin BrownyKirin Grand Kirin Browny  
                    (Amber Ale)      2.89     3.2
Rich caramel nose, with some grain, raisins, and slightly pungent hoppiness. Clear copper color, some lace. Light rich roast, mild hopping, and the bitterness lingers a short while. Well-balanced stuff.

 Kirin Grand Kirin Hop FruityKirin Grand Kirin Hop Fruity  
                    (Premium Lager)      2.9       3.2
Serious Nelson Sauvin hopping in the aroma, grassy and fruity. Clear medium straw color. Mixed sweet and bitter initial, Nelson Sauvin, light grain, medium-strength fruitiness, and tiny hop tracks. Thin-medium body. Has quite the aroma, but the flavors fall down a bit.

Kirin Grand Kirin Mild RichKirin Grand Kirin Mild Rich  
                   (Wheat Ale)   3          3.3
Pungent and lightly stinky tropical fruity nose. Clear medium straw color. Light fruit, some grain, and hopping is a definite presence throughout. Thin-medium body. I like the aroma hopping, for sure. Overall, pretty much like the oxymoronic name implies -- mild flavors and rich aroma.

Kirin Ichiban Shibori PremiumKirin Ichiban Shibori Premium  
                (Premium Lager)   2.86     3.2
Pale malt nose, with considerable grass and citrus. Clear bright straw color. Light sweetish malty initial, followed by a medium bitterness which lingers a bit. Thin body and quite smooth. Seems sweeter and maltier than the regular version of Ichiban Shibori, and maybe hoppier as well. But still, it’s not really very special.

Kirin Spring Valley JZB   
                (Fruit Beer/Radler)           2.84     3.1
This one is from Kirin’s newish craft beer brewery. Mild tropical fruit nose. Bright rosé wine color, thin white head with some lace. Light berries, strawberry, and a lingering sweetness. Thin body, and somewhat spritzy. Light and fairly tasty, with little jumps of fruitiness. The Galaxy hopping is not so evident ... neither is the "Dream," which mentioned as a special ingredient.

Kirin Flaveer  
                                                  (Fruit Beer/Radler)     2.68     2.3
Large and spritzy sugary lemon nose. Clear bright yellow. Lemon, Seven-Up, and just the tiniest hint of bittering. Thin body. Not much of a beer or even a shandy. More of a beer spritzer. Oh, the business woes of Kirin.... grasping at straws with crazy decisions -- like bringing out this type of beer in December.

Kirin Tanrei Platinum DoubleKirin Tanrei Platinum Double  
                          (Pale Lager) 2.22     1.9
Sweet light apple juice nose, with tiny pungent berries. Medium straw color, with weird lively lace. Sick spirits initial, like a bad whiskey and water, and flavors fade out with a sudden slap. Thin, a bit harsh on the tongue, with carbonation like baby jellyfish stings. Seriously strange stuff. I suppose the 0% purine thing is a plus for some people, but it’s a minus for others, and those who have no problems with purines should avoid this beer. Third category junk.

Kirin Fuyu Nodogoshi Hanayagu KokuKirin Fuyu Nodogoshi Hanayagu Koku   
                           (Amber Lager/Vienna)     2.21     1.8
Light sewer, sweet pie crust, spirits. Deep amber color. Grain, spirits, flattish sweet fruitiness, cardboard. Thin-medium body, harsh carbonation. Oh, well. Yuck (in a minor key). Juiced up to 6%. More third category yuck. Don’t need another.

Kirin Nodogoshi IceKirin Nodogoshi Ice  
                          (Spice/Herb/Vegetable)          2.16     1.5
Seriously pungent sewer nose, sulphury, gun powder. Thin pale straw. Light tang, vegetables, some citrus, low-level harsh spirits, light sugary final. Thin body. Glad this was well chilled, or it would have been worse. Can’t really remember the regular version of this one. Could it have been this bad?


  1. Nevitt, you've been busy! BTW, coming out for Zwicklemania?

  2. Yes,busy! And yes I'll be in Portland and am looking forward to
    Zwickeling with you.