Monday, January 19, 2015

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

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.

In the previous two posts, we looked at Kirin's and Asahi's new beers.Today, here's an overview of the relatively few new brews produced by Sapporo:

 Sapporo Nippon Lager Sapporo Nippon Lager 
(Premium Lager)        2.8       3.1
Decent mid-range bitter aroma. Crystal-clear bright amber-gold color. Smooth light sweet malt initial, some grass, gentle bitter finish. Thin body. Not at all bad. Aroma is promising. Flavors just okay.

 Sapporo Yebisu Royal Selection Sapporo Yebisu Royal Selection

(Premium Lager)        3          3.3
Thick malty nose, quite fruity, with some light pepper, which comes across like a sort of cola drink. Ripe orange/ amber, thick and pretty, with a thin head. Rich malt, with some heavy fruit and grassy notes, good bittering in mid and final. It floats to a light creamy finish of shortbread and crackers. Thin-medium body, a bit heavier than most. A very rich malty lager.

 Sapporo Yebisu Natsu no Koku Sapporo Yebisu Natsu no Koku  
(Pale Lager/Imperial Pils)      3.13     3.4

Ripe, sweet fruity nose, very malty. Pretty orange-copper color, thin off-white head, some lace. Rich caramel at outset, decent fruitiness. Some light hopping throughout and the bittering intensifies in mid and final. Medium body. Kind of filling. Interesting, especially as a summer special brew, for which it seems a bit too thick and flavorful. Anyway, kudos to Sapporo.

Sapporo White Belg Sapporo White Belg
(Belgian White - Witbier)      2.82     2.8

Perfumey nose, grain, light oranges, spice, and a touch of sewer. Bright clear honey-straw color, tiny slow bubbles rising, and some lace. Thin citrusy initial, oranges, coriander, more sweet fruit, cake-like finish. Thin body. As close to a wit-"flavored" beer as any Japanese major brewery has ever done, perhaps. Yet I do wish that they had left out the spirits. Has some decent flavors, but it comes up a bit short (as does the name -- were they trying to save money on printing costs?)

Sapporo Hyakunin No Kiseki Shifuku No Brown Ale Sapporo Hyakunin No Kiseki Shifuku No Brown Ale 

(Brown Ale)    2.8       2.5 
Malty nose, with some harsh caramel, and light alc. fumes. Pretty copper color, very little head. Thin caramel initial flavor, some noticeable alcohol intrudes, followed by candyish notes, and a slightly harsh finish. Thin and weak. Has some clear flavors, but they are mostly rude ones. Not integrated at all and the weak body allows the alcohol too much presence. The real miracle here is that this crowd-sourced recipe did not produce a worse brew.

Sapporo Mugi To Hoppu The gold Sapporo Mugi To Hoppu The gold 
(Pale Lager)    2.49     2.6

Fresh sourish hops, with a hint of sewer. Bright clear yellow. Light grassy initial / mildly harsh grain and some hopping / finish is bitter and sort of clean. Thin-medium body. Not the best stuff on the shelf, to be sure. But this Mugi to Hoppu series from Sapporo is the best happoshu around.

Sapporo Sozai Ippin Sapporo Sozai Ippin 

(Pale Lager)    2.35     1.8

Dirty chopped-up weeds, spirits aroma. Bright medium straw color. Mildly harsh graininess, tiny hopping, light blah finish. Thin body. Flat flavors, nearly tasteless. Geez. It might be harmless aesthetically, but still a crime against happiness.

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