Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Beers from the Japanese Major Brewing Companies in 2015: Asahi / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2015: アサヒビール

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, alcohol percentage, 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.

In the previous post, we looked at Kirin Brewery Company's new beers. Now let's see what Asahi Breweries came up with. 

In 2015, Asahi brought out six different beers, which they labeled a “Dry Premium” series, perhaps in an attempt to lure (or keep) loyal Super Dry drinkers:

    Asahi Dry Premium Genshu Jitate Premium
                               (Pale Lager)   6%   Rating: 2.7   RB Avg. Rating: 2.88
This “premium” has a nose of baking soda, light roast, moderate fruit. Thin spiky grassiness in the initial taste. Some alcohol intrudes in mid palate. Gives way to light bittering in final. Thin-medium body. Not so pleasant. The very obvious alcohol reminds me too much of the flavors and mouthfeel of daisan stuff.

Image result for Asahi Dry Premium Wa no Zeitaku   Asahi Dry Premium Wa no Zeitaku
                    (Premium Lager)   6%   Rating: 2.9   RB Avg. Rating: 2.97
It has a light grainy nose with a touch of citrus. Fairly good fruity initial flavor, mild grass and decent hopping. Light-medium body (heavier than others in the Dry Premium series). The adjuncts (rice and cornstarch) don’t really interfere much.

   Asahi Dry Premium Zeitaku Kaori Shikomi
                             (Pale Lager)   5.5%   Rating: 2.8   RB Avg. Rating: 2.94
A light fruity nose with some mild hopping. Flavors of gentle pale malt, some bitter citrus notes. The bittering seems more pronounced than in others in this series. Thin-medium body. The Amarillo hopping is interesting, but there is not really enough of it to make much difference.

Image result for Asahi Dry Premium Iritate Koku no Premium   Asahi Dry Premium Iritate Koku no Premium
 (Imperial Pils/Strong Pale Lager)   6.5%   Rating: 2.6   RB Avg. Rating: 3.05
This higher-alcohol lager has a sweetish, chalky nose, or concrete powder, and a sprig of grass. A light fruity initial, small roast malt notes, citrus, and a coating of bittering hops in finish (not entirely pleasant). A small jump of bittering and alcohol in mid palate and final. Not really as "dry" as others in this Asahi line.

   Asahi Dry Premium Hatsu Shikomi Premium
                             (Pale Lager)   6%   Rating: 2.8   RB Avg. Rating: 3.07
This was my first beer of 2015 (it was released at the end of 2014). Damn! My friend posted pics of his New Year bottles of KBS and Goose Island Bourbon Barrel ... and here I was, opening the year with this one. A sweet rude fruity nose, which resembled spirits, unfortunately.... A dark amber/gold color, fat-bubbled head, tiny carb rising. Mild sweet initial, a whisper of bitterness, some corn starchy notes, very light hop tracks. Thin-medium. Better than Super Dry... a little. But too sweet with (faux) maltiness.

Image result for Asahi Dry Premium Kaori no Kohaku   Asahi Dry Premium Kaori no Kohaku
            (Amber Lager/Vienna)   5.5%   Rating: 2.5   RB Avg. Rating: 2.73
Also a late December 2014 release. Aroma of light toasted malt, a hint of chocolate, and some brown sugar. Orangeish-brown color. Thin dark fruit initial flavor, water-soaked prunes and plums, and a thinly bitter finish. A step up from regular Super Dry and Super Dry Black, but that ain’t saying much.

Asahi also initiated their Craftmanship series with a further six brews, keeping up with the other majors’ attempts to produce something to attract the growing ranks of craft beer drinkers.

Image result for アサヒ クラフトマンシップ ドライメルツェン   Asahi Craftmanship Dry Märzen
                    (Oktoberfest/Märzen)   6%   Rating: 2.5   RB Avg. Rating: 2.73
Caramel nose. Orange/amber color, thin off-white head. Sweet malty initial, light bittering. It soon flowers into more sugary sweetness. Gentle bitter finish. Medium body, a bit sticky, and not so dry. Some fair roast malt, but it is largely hidden behind the overly sweet notes.

Asahi Craftmanship Dry Pale Ale
                     (English Pale Ale)   5.5%   Rating: 3.1   RB Avg. Rating: 2.83
The second entry in Asahi’s Craftmanship series. Yeasty nose, some toasted malt, and light caramel. Very pretty deep copper color (and not so pale). Light roast malt, a small sourish fruity tang, late bittering, some rusty notes, and a light dryish finish. A bit thin. Okay.

Image result for Asahi Craftmanship Dry Saison   Asahi Craftmanship Dry Saison
                           (Saison)  5.5%   Rating: 2.6   RB Avg. Rating: 2.97
Malty nose, some spice, light yeasty stink, dead lemon blossoms. Quite malty right off, fruity peachy flavor, and some light citrus. Light stuff. Doesn’t really seem like a saison. Maybe they felt that true saison character would be a turn off for buyers? Oh, well....

Image result for Asahi Craftsmanship Dry Porter   Asahi Craftmanship Dry Porter
                          (Porter)   6%   Rating: 2.9   RB Avg. Rating: 2.77
Small roast nose, brown sugar, light coffee, and small chocolate. Thin translucent brown, small head. Light prune/raisin flavors, a touch of licorice, some metallic notes, and tiny bittering in finish. Thin body, a bit watery. Decent but thin flavors. Not totally dry, and , you know ... ’taint Guinness .....

Image result for Asahi Craftsmanship Christmas Beer Eve Amber   Asahi Craftsmanship Christmas Beer Eve Amber
                             (Dunkler Bock)   6%   Rating: 2.5   RB Avg. Rating: 2.65
Tiny bit of light roast malt aroma, sugary sweet, with some light stinky hops. Dark translucent brown, some lacing. Roast malt, thin caramel, a candyish toffee note in mid palate. Fades quickly. Duller in flavor than most mild amber ales. Made with malt and malt extract. Nothing really Christmas-like about this. Asahi doesn’t put much effort into their "craft" line of beers.

Image result for Asahi Craftsmanship Christmas Beer Merry Gold   Asahi Craftsmanship Christmas Beer Merry Gold
                              (Heller Bock)   6.5%   Rating: 2.8   RB Avg. Rating: 2.85
Very light malt nose, some grass, grain, and a bit of something like spirits. Mild sweetish maltiness, light spicy hopping, jumps of fruity sweetness, finish is thinly bitter and starchy. Thin-medium body. Okay. But why the adjunct junkiness?

   Asahi The Royal Label
                             (Pale Lager)   5%   Rating: 2.7   RB Avg. Rating: 2.64
Some grass, pale malts, and the typical low-carbohydrate beer stink. Bright glowing golden straw color. Mild sweet malty initial. The bittering kicks in too hard in late mid palate. Light sweet finish. Is this some sort of technical brewing achievement -- making a 100% malt brew with 40% fewer carbohydrates? Anyway, it is better than most low-carb beers.

Image result for Asahi Super Dry Extra Sharp   Asahi Super Dry Extra Sharp
                             (Pale Lager)   5.5%   Rating: 2.7   RB Avg. Rating: 2.82
Nose of cardboard, grain, more grain, wet concrete, and a slight sulfur note (but really so strong, nor as bad as it sounds). Very pale straw color, thin white head, and some lace. Grass, grain, with a big carbonation spike in mid palate, then mild malt sweetness, and light powdery finish. Thin-medium body. Not sure if it’s really "sharp," but it is definitely crisp and sort of dry. Tastes more or less like happoshu. Maybe a notch up from regular Super Dry.

Image result for Asahi Clear Crystal Clear   Asahi Clear Crystal Clear
                             (Pale Lager)   4%   Rating: 1.7   RB Avg. Rating: 2.23
Spirits stink, light thin fruit, some sewer. Very light pale gold color. Grain, spirits, and small bittering. Very thin body. A watered-down version of the already watery Asahi Clear. Summer junk.

Image result for Asahi Clear Toushitsu Zero   Asahi Clear Toushitsu Zero
                             (Pale Lager)   6%   Rating: 2.2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.5
Lightly fragrant fruity and cesspool aroma. Clear bright straw color, thin head, and some lace. Tiny grass, cardboard, bit of hopping, and some harsh chemical notes in finish. Thin body. Some alcohol warmth. Nearly flavorless, and hence not as offensive as most beers in this vein.

   Asahi Clear Aki no Kohaku
                             (Oktoberfest/Märzen)   Rating: 1.5   RB Avg. Rating: 2.44
Light roast nose, along with sewerish spirits, cardboard, dirty used aluminum foil, and hamster cage. Dull brown tea color. Cardboard initial, light sugary mid palate, spirits, corn, and blah... Thin, harsh body. Four malts + seven hops = zero (they don’t even begin to cover up the adjuncts and spirits).

Image result for Asahi Clear  no Kaori   Asahi Clear Hatsudzumi no Kaori
                              (Pale Lager)   5%   Rating: 1.9   RB Avg. Rating: 2.7
A decidedly spirit-stinky nose, with some starchiness. Bright gold straw color. Rough green mashy taste, with some added cardboard. Thin and fizzy. Has Yamagata hops .... but who cares when the result is like this?

Image result for Asahi Style Free 6%   Asahi Style Free 6%
                            (Pale Lager)   6%   Rating: 1.6   RB Avg. Rating: 2.31
Strong chemical-like extract nose, some spirits. Clear golden straw color. Big cardboard, fat and wet, flattens out into a dull sweetness, harsh. Alcohol/spirits appear in finish. Thin body. Like insecticide-sprayed peach skins, or a cardboard fruit box, with dust and alcohol. Junk.

Image result for Asahi Smart Off   Asahi Smart Off
                            (Pale Lager)   5%   Rating: 2.1   RB Avg. Rating: 2.69
Thin nose with some decided alcohol-infused fruit. Dark amber color. Bread soaked in spirits, quite vegetal. Thin-medium body. 50% less carb and … wait for it … 2000mg. collagen! No spirits included, but it has eight ingredients, including barley extract and yeast extract (is this last one a new thing?). Weird stuff.

   Asahi Fuyu no Kanpai (Party & Winter)
                              (Pale Lager)   6%   Rating: 2.4   RB Avg. Rating: 2.59
Thin malt nose, bit of caramel hiding amidst the barley spirits. Dark gold color. Light scratchy malt, spirits in mid palate, light sweetish finish with a bit of alcohol warmth. Actually, the spirits don’t intrude too much. Inoffensive. No real evidence of Casade or Citra hopping. This one won’t get your party started.

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