Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New Beers from the Japanese Major Brewing Companies in 2016: Sapporo / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2016: サッポロビール

We’re well into 2017 now. It's time to take stock of new beers brought out in 2016 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 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 the newer brews have fewer than ten ratings.

In the two previous posts, we looked at Asahi Breweries’ (see HERE) and Kirin Brewing Company’s (see HERE) latest offerings. Now let's see what Sapporo Breweries came up with.

Sapporo Breweries – 25 beers

Sapporo offered seven new beers in their premium Yebisu line:

Sapporo Yebisu #126
Premium Lager           6.0%    Rating: 3.0   RB Avg. Rating: 3.01
Can. Small grassy hop nose, also quite malty, ripe apples, and yeast. Slightly sourish initial, and then moves to rather high sugary sweetness, sugar crackers, bit of citrus, and a mild sweet finish. Medium body (a bit heavy for style). Drinkable, to be sure. But certainly too sweet. Has a kind of cheap feeling to it.

Sapporo Yebisu Fuyu no Koku
Premium Lager           5.5%    Rating: 3.4   RB Avg. Rating: 3.09
Sweet unusual floral nose of cherries, peach skin, grass, and what seems like a little touch of smoke. Brilliant orange/amber color. Sweet malty initial favors, caramel, grass, and moderate bittering in mid and final. Thin-medium body, and quite clean. The nose is intriguing. Wondering if this is really an amber lager.


Sapporo Yebisu Meister
Dortmunder/Helles     5.5%    Rating:  3.3   RB Avg. Rating: 3.03
Somewhat stinky nose - a bit vegetal, actually, with a bit of spice -- but kind of happoshu-like. Medium copper/ gold color, thin head. Thick malty initial flavor, hits of spicy hopping, then the malt reasserts itself, and it finishes with solid bitter tracks. Medium body. I don’t really care for the nose on this one. But it has an intriguing malt/hop interaction in the flavor.

Sapporo Yebisu The Hop 2016
Premium Lager           5.5%    Rating: 3.2   RB Avg. Rating: 3.0
Mild sewery nose, a bit of prickly hoppiness, and a light grassy note. Pretty deep gold straw color, thin head, some good lacing. Sweetish malty initial, fruity with hopping, grassy in mid palate, and a rich malty finish. Thin-medium body, well balanced. The label touts the fresh Saaz hops, but they are not very evident in the nose.

Sapporo Yebisu Wa no Houjun
Premium Lager           5.0%    Rating: 3.1   RB Avg. Rating: 3.0
Fruity nose, with a rather rough grainy and hoppy edge. Bright pale straw color. Solid malt/hop balance right off, biscuity, a bit earthy, sweet, and then mildly bitter. Balanced again in finish. Thin-medium body. Nose doesn’t offer up much; flavors are better. Not my favorite among these new Yebisu variations.


Sapporo Yebisu Joël Robuchon Hanayagi no Jikan (2016)
Pilsener            5.0%    Rating: 3.2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.87
Gentle fresh citrusy nose, with some light cat piss, and grass. Gold straw color, thin white head. Generous fruity initial, which slips into slightly rude and dark hopping, and a thin bitter finish. Thin-medium. The Nelson Sauvin hops don’t stand out, as they definitely did in last year’s version. Pleasant enough.

Sapporo Yebisu Joël Robuchon Yoin no Jikan (2016)
Pilsener               5.5%    Rating: 3.4   RB Avg. Rating: 3.24
Grainy, grassy, and a mild tropical note in the aroma -- quite full and deep. Bright gold straw color. Grain and apples in the initial flavor. Rounded mild fruity hopping in mid palate. Thins out in finish. Thin-medium body, a touch heavy for style. Very unusual hopping for a pilsener (it did not really seem to be Mosaic hops). Fat flavors. Nice.

Sapporo added four new beers to their “Mugi to Hoppu” line:

Sapporo Mugi to Hoppu Aka Fest Style
Oktoberfest/Märzen   6.0%    Rating: 2.5   RB Avg. Rating: 2.81
A sugary aroma, with toasted malt, and some chicken vegetable soup notes. Copper/amber color. Mild roast malt initial flavor, a light touch of barley spirits in mid palate, and a bit of gentle sweet dark fruitiness in mid and final. Has a bit of märzen character, but it doesn’t really feel so close to the style. Some roasty/toasty malt and the added spirits are fairly restrained and covered up.

Sapporo Mugi to Hoppu Aki no Kaori Mugi
Amber Lager/Vienna  5.0%    Rating: 2.4   RB Avg. Rating: 2.46
A light fruity nose, with a bit of caramel, and some spirits. Medium copper/amber color. Thin dark fruit flavor, light roast malt. The mid palate features a rather rough spike in spirits. Mild, flattish finish. Thin-medium body. Not much of an amber or a Vienna. The added spirits are too evident here for it to be pleasant.

Sapporo Mugi to Hoppu Platinum Clear
Pale Lager       5.0%    Rating: 2.3   RB Avg. Rating: 2.58
Thin fruit/vegetable aroma, small citrus, but mostly light stinky sewer. Medium pale straw color. Very mild malty initial, gentle and sort of sweet through mid palate, with very low hop presence. Thin, watery body. Innocuous, mild stuff. This series definitely has a less noticeable spirits character than the average daisan beer or happoshu.

Sapporo Mugi To Hoppu The gold Extra Malt
Pale Lager       5.0%    Rating: 2.4   RB Avg. Rating: 2.64
Fruity nose, with peaches, light stinky spirits, and some small citrus notes. Flavors are simple, with light artificial sweeteners. Moderate hopping, which intensifies a bit in mid palate and then trails off. Thin-medium body. Spirits are obvious in the aroma, not so much in flavor. Tolerable, but there’s not really much here.

Sapporo Beer Surprise Shifuku no Nigami
Pilsener                       5.0%    Rating:  3.2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.96
Light malty aroma, with moderate pleasant fruitiness, grass, and noble hops. Bright gold straw color. Flavors of pale malt, bread, and crackers. The hops (Hallertauer, I think) really intensify in mid palate ... almost to the point of unpleasantness. Thin-medium body. Interesting, and very highly-hopped-up, beer from a Japanese major.

Sapporo Lager’s High Hojun no Nodogoshi
Pale Lager       7.0%    Rating: 2.1   RB Avg. Rating: 2.63
Nose of grass, stinky weeds, sewer, and small alcohol fumes. Clear gold amber color. Thin rasty maltiness (extract?), a rude chemical-tasting mid palate with spirits somewhat evident, and prickly light bitterness in finish. Thin-medium body. Junk.... but just a little less junky than the other two in this “Lager’s High” series.

Sapporo Kanpai Ale
Golden Ale/Blond Ale 5.5%    Rating: 2.9   RB Avg. Rating: 2.65
A light sweet fruity nose, with some vegetal notes and a starchy malt powder mix. Medium straw color, with a frothy head. Thin fruity initial, peach maybe, starchy light sweetness in mid palate, small rough hit of bitterness in late mid, and an innocuous mild finish. Thin-medium body, a bit thick perhaps. This one is lightened up with the Japanese majors’ favorite combo: rice, corn, and starch. Not too bad, though....really.

Sapporo Kuro Label Hokkaido & Tohoku Selection
Pale Lager       5.0%    Rating: 0   RB Avg. Rating: 2.85
No chance to rate this one

Sapporo Kuro Label The Hokkaido
Pale Lager       5.0%    Rating: 0   RB Avg. Rating: 2.92
No chance to rate this one

Sapporo Hokkaido Namashibori
Pale Lager       5.5%    Rating: 0   RB Avg. Rating: 2.64
No chance to rate this one, either

Sapporo Crystal Belg
Saison  4.0%    Rating: 2.6   RB Avg. Rating: 2.88
Light citrus aroma, with (yes, and it’s unusual) strawberries, and a small bit of spirits. Clear bright gold amber, thin filmy head. Mild indeterminate fruitiness, spirits intrude a little in mid palate, and it floats away to nothing. Thin-medium body. Well, what do you know?.... a "daisan saison." I suppose it had to happen at some point.

Sapporo Classic Haru no Kaori
Pale Lager       5.0%    Rating: 0   RB Avg. Rating: 2.96
No chance to rate this one

Sapporo Classic Natsu no Soukai
Pale Lager       5.5%    Rating: 0   RB Avg. Rating: 2.92
No chance to rate this one

Sapporo Draft Beer Kuro Label Extra Brew
Pale Lager       5.5%    Rating: 3.2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.67
A grainy aroma, which sweetens up with light cake notes and powdered sugar. Clear straw color. Flavors of grain, sweetish malt, very gentle hopping, and a lightly sweet finish. Medium body, a bit thicker than typical for the style. Nice enough. More body and flavors than most Japanese major lagers. Very drinkable.

Sapporo Kaori no Goku Zero
Pale Lager       6.0%    Rating: 2.2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.29
Large sugary, fruity nose, with some pineapple and apple notes, and a small bit of spirits. Clear medium amber color. Thick fruity initial flavor, kind of like fruit juice and light wine, which flattens out quickly. Mild alcohol warmth in finish. Thin-medium body. Weird stuff. Not entirely unpleasant, but so artificial in flavor.

Sapporo added three more beers to their “Craft Label” series:

Sapporo Craft Label Hello! Weizen
German Kristallweizen           5.0%    Rating: 2.5   RB Avg. Rating: 2.68
Light banana nose, with a small chemical spice-like note. Medium gold straw color and not very much head (for a weizen). Sweetish banana initial flavor, and it becomes a bit harsh in mid palate with some unusual bittering. The harshness continues through to the finish. Thin-medium body. Seems very thin. That mid and final roughness doesn’t help things much. They really didn’t get this one right. Goodbye! Weizen.

Sapporo Craft Label Kaori Odoru Juggling IPA
India Pale Ale (IPA)     6.0%    Rating: 2.6   RB Avg. Rating: 2.82
Nose of caramel and mild piney hop. Reddish/amber color and a fast-failing head. Sweet initial flavors, with artificial sweetener, cookie-ish, mild citrus. Thin-medium body. It sort of improves through palate stages ... but it’s not really much of an IPA. Quite weird, actually... but drinkable.

Sapporo Craft Label That’s Hop Sorachi Ace
Golden Ale/Blond Ale 5.5%    Rating: 0   RB Avg. Rating: 3/02
No chance to rate this one

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