Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Beers from the Japanese Major Brewing Companies in 2015: Kirin / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2015: キリン

We’re into the new year now. It's time to look around and take stock of new beers brought out in 2015 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, my rating score, and the current RateBeer weighted average score (both scores out of a possible total of 5), keeping in mind that most of them have fewer than ten ratings.

Let’s start with Kirin Brewery Company:

Here are three new brews in the Grand Kirin series, which was launched in 2013.

    Kirin Grand Kirin Galaxy Hop Session IPA
                      (Session IPA)   4.5%   Rating: 3.4   RB Avg. Rating: 2.73
This one has a sour peachy nose, with citrus, a touch of cat piss, and tropical fruit. Medium gold straw color. Light pale malts, a bit grainy, some slightly rough hop buzz in mid and final. Very nice nose! Bittering is a bit too much for the light body. But very decent stuff from a major brewer. Kirin’s Grand Kirin series has more interesting beers than their Spring Valley "craft" beer production pub.

   Kirin Grand Kirin Izayoi no Tsuki Kiwi IPA
                      (India Pale Ale)   5.5%   Rating: 2.7   RB Avg. Rating: 2.84
A thin malty nose with grain, light sewer, citrus, and very mild NZ/AUS aroma hopping. Deep golden amber color, fine head. Flavors of grain, citrus, rye. Slight fruity tang in mid palate. Lightly harsh bitter finish. Well, this one doesn’t really work well. Certainly not as an IPA. It is, however, drinkable.

  Kirin Grand Kirin Fukuro no Mori
                         (Wheat Ale)   7.5%   Rating: 3.4   RB Avg. Rating: 3.13
A moderately fruity nose, with banana and apple, all a bit sourish and spritzy. Cloudy apple juice color, with 1-2cm off-white head. A thin fruity initial, which soon develops into a pleasant mild wheaty bit. Small metallic bittering creeps in and stays through mid palate and final. Medium body, maybe a little thin for the alcohol level. An unexpected entry in the Grand Kirin series Very pleasant and warming.

Image result for 『キリン 晴れやかなビール    Kirin Hareyakana Beer
                            (Pale Lager)   5%   Rating: 2.5   RB Avg. Rating: 2.7
Some fruitiness in the aroma, thin and somewhat sugary. Very pale gold straw color. Fruity initial, but it nearly disappears in mid palate. Dryish finish. Thin and a bit watery. Not a lot here.

Kirin also came out with special versions of Ichiban Shibori produced by nine different Kirin breweries throughout Japan. I was able to sample two of them:

    Kirin Kobe-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori
                              (Pale Lager)   5%   Rating: 2.9   RB Avg. Rating: 2.86
A mild grassy nose, gentle malt, wafting fruitiness. Flavors include a clean, mild sweetness, light citrus, grass, and a thin sweet finish. Thin body. Okay, but it’s hard to know how different it is from the regular Ichiban Shibori without a side-by-side comparison.

   Kirin Shiga-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori
                              (Pale Lager)   5.5%   Rating: 3.1   RB Avg. Rating: 2.91
A light grassy nose with a thin clean maltiness. Clear gold straw color. Mild malty initial, decent bittering, thin balanced finish. Thin body. Seems to have a little more punch than the Kobe-Zukuri version (0.5% higher alcohol). Perhaps a different water source, too. It’s a nice lean lager. But not a major departure from either the Kobe or the regular Ichiban Shibori.

Two more in this nine-beer series appeared on RateBeer, Kirin Yokohama-zukuri Ichiban Shibori and Kirin Nagoya-zukuri Ichiban Shibori. Each was rated by only one person, and neither very impressively.

   Kirin Ichiban Shibori Komugi no Umami
                             (Pale Lager)   5%   Rating: 3   RB Avg. Rating: 2.95
A sweet malty nose, with a slight bit of sewer andsome sugar. Clear gold straw color, soap-sudsy white head. Light sweet malt, small citrus tang, touch of grass. Thin-medium body. Wheat is barely detectable. A thinly sweetened version of Ichiban Shibori.
  Kirin Maroyaka Ale
                                 (Wheat Ale)   5%   Rating: 3.3   RB Avg. Rating: 3.1
This one comes in a little 305ml bottle (which apparently is the new 315ml, which was the new 330ml). A mild wheaty nose, banana bready, with light tart and tangy fruity notes. Hazy golden amber color, fine head, good lace. Slightly sharp fruity initial, wheat. Bitterness enters early and stays a good while. Thin-medium body. Very pleasant wheat ale with a bitter edge.

    Kirin Nodogoshi All Light
                               (Pale Lager)   3%   Rating: 2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.3
Unusual aroma: apple juice, white grape juice, all very artificial. Clear medium straw color. Thin light fruity initial, with banana and apple notes, and a sort of graininess. Some spirits jumps up in mid palate, and it finishes with more light fruit junk, and then a quick merciful fade out. Thin body, a touch harsh on the tongue. Fairly harmless, overall.

    Kirin Yoru Nodogoshi
                            (Pale Lager)   5%   Rating: 1.9   RB Avg. Rating: 2.22
"Special Limited Edition" Oh, boy! A mild cardboardy nose, corn flour, and a bit of sewer (spirits). Dark straw color, filmy head, some lace. Light malty initial, some spirits (of course), indeterminate mild hopping, and it floats away on a little stream of more malt spirits. Thin body. Says "100% barley," but it also includes spirits. Not as bad as the others in this series. But it has the worst possible ugly soda pop-like party theme can design.

   Kirin Nodogoshi Aozora Komugi
                             (Pale Lager)   5%   Rating: 2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.52
A light sewerish nose, weeds and smashed fruit, and a bit of itchy wheat. Straw color. Rude fruitiness, pissed-on peaches, with poison herbal note, just a tiny touch of wheat, and light bittering in mid and final. It goes flat quite quickly. Thin body. Not as really bad as it sounds, or not that bad for this kind of junk beer. Still, that rude nose is a bit much.

    Kirin Tanrei Gokujo Nama
                               (Pale Lager)   5.5%   Rating: 1.6   RB Avg. Rating: 2.82
Aromas of cardboard, sewer, mashed-up and spit-out sugary fruit. Bright gold color, filmy head. Harsh initial flavor, fish flakes, pissy and metallic. Thin body, but rough on the tongue. How many variations of this stuff do they have to make ... or worse, how many more will I stupidly try?


  1. Haven't tried most of these, but "Fukuro no Mori" was my favorite

  2. Red, I agree. The Grand Kirin line is probably the best series of beers put out by any of the major brewing companies in Japan.

  3. Very good points you wrote here..Great stuff...I think you've made some truly interesting points.Keep up the good work. Mason Soiza