Friday, January 11, 2019

New Beers from the Japanese Majors in 2018: Asahi Breweries / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2018: アサヒビール

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.

Let’s start with Asahi Breweries:

Asahi Super Dry Migaki Bakuga Shikomi

Pale Lager / 5.5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.77 / My Rating 2.2

Thin, fuzzy, sort of grassy nose, with some soured vegetables. Much like regular Super Dry. Medium gold color, small white head. Flavors of hay, grass, with a light hop bite, mild fruitiness. Finishes with snap and crackle carbonation. Thin-medium body. Carbonation is too sharp.              


Asahi Takumi Jikomi
Pale Lager / 5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.63 / My Rating 1.9
Starchy aroma, with definite spirits there, a little citrus, and a hint of grassy hops. Bright clear gold color, with a thin filmy white head. Flavors of thin grain and spirits harshness soon after. A little spirit and hops bitterness. Thin body and rather rough on the tongue. Junk. But, hey, at least it's got 100% Japanese hops (which barely make an appearance).

Asahi Gran Mild

Spice / Herb / Vegetable / 7% / RateBeer Avg. 2.79 / My Rating 3.1             

Nose or citrus, mild herbs, condensed stone fruit, and some apples. Medium gold color. Thick sweet fruity initial flavor, apples, pears, light citrus, some alcohol presence, and snippet of lemongrass, and a lightly bitter finish. Medium body. Aroma is quite heavy. What's the "mild" bit? Okay, overall.

Asahi The Double

Pale Lager / 5.5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.76 / My Rating 2.5

Has a light fruity nose, maybe stone fruit, apple juice, grapes, and a fuzzy sort of yeastiness. Deep amber color with a smooth off-white head. Flavors of grain, gentle fruit, grapes, mid palate bitterness, chalk, and an unusual fruity finish. Fades fairly quickly. Thin-medium body, and just a bit harsh on the tongue. It tastes a bit aged or maybe just old. Hard to understand why they made this combination pils and ale beer.

Asahi Shokuraku

Oktoberfest / Märzen / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 2.87 / My Rating 3

Why bring this one out in the middle of summer? Anyway..... Nose of very thin roast malt. Clear dark gold color, creamy white head. Flavors of light roast malt, a small spicy note (pepper?), mild bitterness, and a very slight alcohol presence in the finish. Thin-medium body and maybe a bit overcarbonated. Hmm... so mild. Like a märzen mixed with soda water.

Asahi Hyakunen no Kodawari

Pale Lager / 4.5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.97 / My Rating 3.2

Nose of light sourish fruit, with some aroma hops (noble?). Clear medium gold color. Fairly malty initial, a bit bready, decent hops, with a small mid-palate kick of fruitiness, and then a balanced finish. Thin-medium body. Balanced and all that. But, you know, rice, corn, and starch (ingredients in so many Asahi beers) do not make the most memorable (or, in this case, commemorative) beers.

Four beers in the Asahi Clear series:

Asahi Clear Aki no Utage

Oktoberfest / Märzen / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 2.73 / My Rating 2.3

Can. Dull caramel nose, light roast malt, wet concrete, and a fuzzy sort of vegetal note, Medium copper color, thin off-white head. Caramel, mild bit of dark fruit, a hint of grain spirits, and small touch of bitterness. Thin-medium body. Spirits are fairly well hidden in this one.          

Asahi Clear Prime Rich Hanayaka Rich

Imperial Pils/Strong Pale Lager / 7% / RateBeer Avg. 2.73 / My Rating 2.2

Can from supermarket. Aroma has considerable stone fruitiness, light sugar, and mild spirits. Medium gold straw color. Flavors of thick overripe fruit, peaches, apples, and of course the cheap spirits. Mild sweet finish. Medium body. Kind of hides the spirits in aroma, and also in flavor, but only until mid palate.

Asahi Clear Red

Amber Lager / Vienna / 5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.79 / My Rating 2.3

This end-of-the-year addition has a light roasty nose, with sugar, spirits, and dirty rusty metal. Bright reddish brown color. Dull sugary toasted malt flavor, with a decided jump of spirits flavor in mid palate. Thin-medium. Sweetish and "spirited" cheap stuff for price-conscious holiday drinkers.

Asahi Clear Seven

Imperial Pils/Strong Pale Lager / 7% / RateBeer Avg. 2.51 / My Rating 1.9

Aroma of thin sweetened steamed stone fruit and grapes. Clear medium gold color. Sweet fruitiness, which intensifies along with the spirits/alcohol through mid palate. Not a lot else. Medium body, somewhat warming. Tingles the tongue -- but it's really just junk. This Asahi Clear series is among the worst in Japan.

Asahi also continued their series of Asahi Dry Premium beers using hops that rarely find their way into industrial lagers:

Asahi Dry Premium Houjou Calypso

Pale Lager / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 3.02 / My Rating 3.2

Rich aroma of overripe stone fruit and apples. Medium gold color, with a smooth off-white head. Thick malty initial, stone fruit, pears, touch of citrus, moderate bitterness, and a thin mild finish. Medium body. Quite fruity.

Asahi Dry Premium Houjou Lemon Drop

Pale Lager / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 2.94 / No chance to try this one                 

Asahi Dry Premium Houjou Monroe

Pale Lager / 6% / RateBeer Avg. 2.93 / My Rating 3.1

Bready and lightly floral nose, some biscuits. Medium pale gold color. Moderately rich malty initial, with a thin berry note. A bit of butter. Further fruitiness picks up from mid palate on. Medium body. A little richer than most of the beers in this Houjou series. But I really wish they had used more of these fairly rare hops.

Asahi Dry Premium Houjou Saaz Late

Pale Lager / 5.5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.88 / My Rating 2.8

Citrusy nose, with grassy hop (not very Saaz-like), and light sweet fruitiness. Clear gold straw color. Citrus, slightly rough hop bitterness, and some grain. Thin-medium body. Not a whole lot going on here. The “special” hops don’t really make an impact.

Finally, a series of world styles, which appeared in year-end gift sets:

Asahi World Beer Premium American Golden Ale

Golden Ale / Blond Ale / 5.0% / RateBeer Avg. 2.87 / No chance to try this one

Asahi World Beer Premium Bohemian Pilsner

Czech Pilsner (Světlý) / 5% / Rate Beer Avg. 2.98 / No chance to try this one

Asahi World Beer Premium English Pale Ale

Pale Ale – English / 5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.94 / No chance to try this one

Asahi World Beer Premium German Pilsner

Pilsener / 5% / Rate Ber Avg. 2.87/ 5% / No chance to try this one, either.

1 comment:

  1. You scribed:
    > Asahi The Double
    > Pale Lager / 5.5% / RateBeer Avg. 2.76 / My Rating 2.5
    > Hard to understand why they made this combination pils and ale beer.
    Because Asahi noticed what Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams) was doing in the U.S.A. with its "Sam '76" brew. (I suspect it has been exported to Japan. Give it a taste. It is not one of my favorite Samuel Adams beers.)