Monday, January 23, 2017

New Beers from the Japanese Major Brewing Companies in 2016: Kirin / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2016: 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: Asahi, Kirin, 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 (see HERE), we looked at Asahi Breweries. Now let's see what Kirin came up with. 

Kirin Brewery Company – 20 new beers

Kirin Ichiban Shibori Single Malt 
Premium Lager 5.5%      Rating: 3.1   RB Avg. Rating: 2.72
Grainy nose, with some light sourish fruitness and kind of a stinky floral character. Light chill haze, gold straw color, with a thin head. Flavors of grain, thin sweet maltiness, light citrus, biscuit, a light hop tang, and a mildly sweet finish. Thin-medium body. Nothing very special here, but also nothing really off about it. The single malt (which is not a typical beer thing, as it is with whisky) is a marketing gimmick.

Kirin released 47 different variations of their popular Ichiban Shibori, one for each prefecture in Japan. Here are the ones which were entered on the RateBeer website in 2016:

Kirin Chiba-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: NA   RB Avg. Rating: 2.81
No chance to sample this one

Kirin Fukuoka-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 2.8   RB Avg. Rating: 2.79
Gentle thinly malyt nose and light weedy hop. Bright glowing golden straw color. Decent malty initial flavor, small citrus tinge, and balanced finish. Thin body. Okay. A very mild variation on an already mild pale lager.

Kirin Hokkaido-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 2.7   RB Avg. Rating: 2.87
Nose of thin starch, pale malt, and light citrus. Very pretty bright pale straw color. Mild sweet malt, a smidgen of bittering, thin citrus tang, and then ... it’s gone. Thin and a bit watery, and they do tout the special water source for this one. Drinkable.

Kirin Kumamoto-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 2.7   RB Avg. Rating: 2.87
Malty nose, with grain, biscuit, and small stinky weedy hoppiness. Deep amber/orangeish color. Malty initial, slightly rough in mid palate, and some mild fruitiness in late mid palate and finish. Thin-medium body. Not the smoothest lager around, for sure. Okay, barely.

Kirin Kyoto-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 3.0   RB Avg. Rating: 2.88
Light malty nose, with maybe a touch of citrus. Clear bright gold straw color. Malty initial, citrus, powdered sugar, and a smidgen of pepperiness. The hops develop and intensify a bit in mid palate. Thin-medium body. Doesn’t seem to be anything really "Kyoto" about this one.

Kirin Okayama-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 2.5   RB Avg. Rating: 2.83
Nose of thin malt and light stinky weedy hop. Light pale straw color. Thin maltiness, touch of hops, some mid-palate sweetness, and a thin balanced blahhhh finish.

Kirin Osaka-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           6.0%      Rating: 3.2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.98
Light sweet pale malt aroma, with generous hopping. Bright straw color with fat bubbles brooding on the bottom of the glass. Juicy, mildly fruity initial flavor, hint of bitterness in mid palate, and some alcohol presence, too. Thin-medium body. A bit thicker and "louder" than most versions in this series, as befits the city on the label (though it’s made at the Kobe brewery).

Kirin Sendai-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 3.1   RB Avg. Rating: 2.96
Nose of grain, weedy hops. Dark gold color with a thin white head. Sweetish initial, light maltiness, moderate bittering in mid palate. Malt and hops blend fairly well. Mild sweetish finish. Decent malt body and flavor at first, but then it lightens up due to the rice. Feels a bit starchy (but there is no added corn starch). Drinkable.

Kirin Toride-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           5.5%      Rating: 2.8   RB Avg. Rating: 2.89
Nose of thin sweetish malt and weedy hop. Medium bright gold straw color. Mild sweet maltiness, touch of citrus, thin bittering, and a light sweet finish. No rice in this one. Like so many in this series, it seems starchy (but contains no corn starch).

Kirin Shinshu-Zukuri Ichiban Shibori 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 2.8   RB Avg. Rating: 2.95
Sweetish pale malty nose. Copper/blonde color and big slow bubbles rising. Very malty initial, thick and somewhat fruity, some butter, cake, and moderate bitter finish. Thin-medium body. Very sweet and malty for a lager (almost cloying, really).

Kirin also added new beers to their Grand Kirin series. Beer geeks in Japan tend to give these short shrift, but I feel that they comprise the best overall line of “crafty” brews put out by any of the four majors.

Kirin Grand Kirin Ame Nochi Taiyo no Saison 
Saison   5.0%      Rating: 3.4   RB Avg. Rating: 3.11
Thick, malty and estery nose, a bit wheaty, too. Clear bright gold color, fat fluffy head with some lace. Fruity initial, with pear and apple notes, and some spiciness throughout. Thin body, clean, and well balanced. Kind of a decent summer table beer. Simple and pleasant, if perhaps a bit too sweet.


Kirin Dip Hop Kirin Grand IPL 
Imperial Pils/Strong Pale Lager   6.0%      Rating: 3.3   RB Avg. Rating: 2.90
Bready nose, with grassy hops (but the Nelson Sauvin component doesn’t really come through). Bright pretty gold color, low fine head, and good lace. Smooth pale maltiness, with light but definite bittering. Thin-medium body. Clean and smooth, as most in this series are, but unexceptional.

Kirin Grand Kirin Dip Hop Weizen Bock 
Weizen Bock      7.5%      Rating: 3.3   RB Avg. Rating: 3.28
Bottle. Fairly strong banana and tangy stone fruit nose, along with something that seems kind of lactic, and some yeast. Cloudy deep amber color with a fluffy off-white head. Mildly tart stone fruit, banana, and concentrated apples. Some mid palate bittering and a little hit of alcohol. Thins out somewhat in finish (except for the alcohol). Medium body. The lactic bit in the aroma is unusual. Overall, fairly good. The body seems light for a weizen bock. It really feels more like a weizen (again, except for the alcohol presence).

Kirin Grand Kirin Izayoi no Tsuki 2016 Calypso IPA 
India Pale Ale (IPA)         5.5%      Rating: 3.1   RB Avg. Rating: 2.66
Nose of pear and apple, mild citrus. Clear medium straw color. Stone fruitiness, with something deeper (maybe bitter green apricot), apples, and weedy bittering. Thin body. Gentle fruity nose, Flavors are unusual. Thin, weak body for an IPA.

Kirin Grand Kirin Urara Kaoru Wheat Spring Ale 
Wheat Ale           5.5%      Rating: 2.9   RB Avg. Rating: 2.71
Gentle malty nose, (Bravo hops? .... well, it’s your guess). Clear bright straw color, small head. Light pale malt, slightly tangy hoppiness, but where’s the wheat? Thin-medium body, fairly creamy. Not bad, but the wheat character doesn’t really emerge.

Kirin Grand Kirin Yakan Hikou Amber Ale
Amber Ale          5.5%      Rating: 3.2   RB Avg. Rating: 3.03
Nose of caramel, light roast malt, and a hint of cocoa. Deep copper/brown color with a tan head and thin lace. Medium rich toasty maltiness, watered-down dark fruit, gentle hopping in finish. Mild stuff, but lightly spicy with the malt-hop balance. Not bad for this (generally) dull style

Kirin Aki Aji Tannou
Oktoberfest/Märzen     7.0%      Rating: 3.2   RB Avg. Rating: 2.96
Nose of caramel, sugar, and grain. Bright, pretty, amber/orange color with a fat fluffy light beige head and thick lace. Caramel, light roast, and a mild alcohol presence. Some decent fruitiness in mid palate. Thin-medium body. Okay. Might be better if it were toned down to 6% or even lower.

Kirin Hare Nodogoshi 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 2.0   RB Avg. Rating: 2.64
Oh, no. Here we go again with the daisan stuff. Nose of lightly simmered vegetable water, wet cardboard. Straw color. Rough citric acid sort of initial flavor. Gets moother in mid palate with some light fruitiness. Then a harsh bitterness and it floats away to a very thinly sweet finish. Thin-medium body, rough on the tongue. Not really as bad as most in this junky series, but far from good.

Kirin Nodogoshi Summer Special 
Pale Lager           5.0%      Rating: 1.9   RB Avg. Rating: 2.24
Mild citrus aroma, with weeds, a small bit of pepper, and spirits. Bright gold straw color. Sugary sweet initial, which is immediately cut through with slightly rough spirits, mild but rude bitterness, and a coating of starchiness in finish. Thin body. Pretty bad (but perhaps not the worst one in this lousy series).

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