Tuesday, January 15, 2019

New Beers from the Japanese Major Brewing Companies in 2018: Kirin / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2018: キリン

We’re into 2019 now. It's time to take stock of new beers brought out in 2018 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 current RateBeer weighted average score and my own rating score (both scores out of a possible total of five), keeping in mind that most of these newer brews have fewer than ten ratings.

In the previous post we discussed the new offerings from Asahi Breweries (here). 

Here’s what Kirin offered us in 2018:

Two new ones in the Grand Kirin series:


Kirin Grand Kirin Ame nochi Taiyo Belgian no Shiro

Witbier / 5.5% / RateBeer Avg. 3.08 / My Rating 3.2

Can from Family Mart. Nose has some citrus zest, wheat, yeast, and two-day old sweat. Clear bright gold color. Mild sweetish citrus initial flavor, hint of orange peel, decent mid-palate bitterness, minuscule amount of coriander, and thin finish. Thin-medium. Body. Not bad. But it seems more like a blond or a sweetish saison (especially in the yeast and the bittering) than a wit.

Kirin Grand Kirin Hikoukigumo to Watashi Lemon-hen (Lemon Beer)

Saison / 5.5% / RateBeer Avg. 3.12 / My Rating 3.4

Aromas of generous spritzy citrus, yeast, and decent but thin malt. Medium dark gold color. Flavors of sweetish malt, gentle citrus, saison yeastiness, touch of grass. Finish is very nicely balanced. Thin-medium body. This would be pleasant either looking down on the clouds from a plane or on the ground looking up. Flavors are well integrated. It could use a bit more saison zip and crispness, but overall it is well made.

Two in the Ichiban Shibori series:

Kirin Ichiban Shibori Cho Hojun

Premium Lager / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 3.09 / My Rating 3.4

Nose of sweetish stone fruit, quite floral and rich. Deep coppery straw color, with a creamy white head. Fairly sweet and malty, then a slight turn to overripe fruit and bitterness in mid palate. Bitterness increases in late mid palate. Quite tasty, overall. Seems sort of like an ale. A richer and thicker version of the more refreshing regular Ichiban Shibori. Given the process involved, it might be called Ichiban”han” Shibori.


Kirin Ichiban Shibori Takumi no Sae

Pale Lager / 5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.96 / My Rating 2.9

Bready malt nose, with light grass, and a hint of spirits (which is not an ingredient here). Clear bright gold color. Malty initial, a light somewhat sour fruitiness, and bready malt from mid palate onwards. Thin-medium body. Seems like noble hops. The spirit-like nose make it seem as if it were channeling happoshu. Yet, overall, not unpleasant.


Two in the, normally undrinkable, Nodogoshi seriess

Kirin Koi Nodogoshi

Pale Lager / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 2.42 / My Rating 1.6

Mild but lightly pungent stone fruit, with spirits and grapes. Deep gold color, thin white head. Foul overripe fruitiness, sick bitterness, some mint or spiciness in mid palate. Medium body. Ughhh! Pretty bad. Spirits not listed among the ingredients, but it sure tastes like a fortified beer. Junk.

Kirin Nodogoshi Strong

Imperial Pils/Strong Pale Lager / 7% / RateBeer Avg. 2.33 / My Rating 2.2

Ah, here we go again. This series! Nose of artificial stone fruit, light citrus. Bright clear gold color, and a fine white head which eventually develops into fat bubbles. Sweet thick fruity flavor, with grain, cereal, grain spirits, and some bitterness. Just barely passable. Yet I wouldn’t want to drink unless it were very cold.

Kirin Hon Kirin

Pale Lager / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 2.78 / 2.8

Medium-strength fruity nose, bit of citrus, sugar, cake frosting, laundry detergent. Bright clean gold color. Thin fruity initial, very light spirits in evidence, mild bitterness, thin flat finish. Thin- medium body. Just a bit of alcohol punchiness. Not too bad for this sort of thing. The Hersbrucker hops probably help.

Clear Malt

Pale Lager / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 2.76 / My Rating 2.6

Thick, prickly sort of fruity aroma, light peach, and some spirits. Medium gold straw color. Concentrated peach initial, maybe kiwi or something a bit more delicate, light citrus, and a small touch of spirits. Medium body, and actually a bit heavy for a lager. You need not search out this one.

Clear Malt Toshitsu 70% Off

Pale Lager / 4% / RateBeer Avg. 2.65 / My Rating 2.1

Nose of very mild indeterminate fruit, light grain spirits. Medium gold color. Rough malt initial, with grapes or maybe grape juice, spirits, and a somewhat rough aftertaste. Thin-medium body. Fairly typical aroma and flavors for low-carbohydrate beer. Gets worse throughout palate stages.

Three from the Spring Valley subsidiary of Kirin, each of which employs a local ingredient:

Spring Valley Brewery Kyoto Yosano IPA

IPA 7% / RateBeer Avg. 3.02 / No chance to try this one


Spring Valley Brewery Misansho Weiss

Spice / Herb / Vegetable / 5.5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.98 / No chance to try this one

Spring Valley Hojicha Brown Ale

Spice / Herb / Vegetable / 4.5% / RateBeer Avg. 3.04

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