Quick Take: An inoffensive, but merely ok beer that doesn’t wow. For me, it’s a pretty simple, slightly bland beer that isn’t worth the money. The sake aging doesn’t add enough to justify the expense, even for craft heads.
Brew Facts: Kiuchi started as a sake brewery back in the 1820’s. They are also responsible for reviving a type of barley, Kaneko Golden, first used 180 years ago. It was supplanted by U.S. barley after WW2 and the Kiuchi Brewery successfully brought it back in the last few years.
Appearance: This beer has a murky, caramel haze that more resembles a barley wine. Definitely a different appearance than the usual light fare I’m used to from the Hitachino Nest brand. Put it to the light and you’ll see a glowing amber, copper color with a deep red hue. A glass swirl leaves a foamy bubble wave on the sides with nary a slick or oily coating.
Aroma: This took a couple inhales and some lengthy mental searching to decipher. I catch an airy aroma of caramel and mild rice alcohol. The mellow, earthy alcohol is reminiscent of an ESB, but with slightly odd tinges to it. The aroma is light enough that I can’t really be sure what to expect when drinking it.
Taste/Mouth Feel: The mouth feel doesn’t necessarily lack body, but is it comprised of a prickly carbonation. The effervescent gives this a lightness that works for the style. It isn’t atypical for a BSDA, which I find to be gassy by nature. The first thing that hits my tongue is a yeast driven tang that suppresses what could be overly sweet malt elements. There is an intentional green apple taste that doesn’t get tart. The flavors are on the verge of bold, but stay in check to the detriment of the beer. It finishes on the mineral/metallic side with some saltiness and a touch of heat. Other than the warmth, I have a hard time locating the sake influence. An ESB-type beer that keeps the sweet under control, but tastes like it was aged in blah barrels.
Final Thoughts: I admit that BSDAs are among my least favorite beer styles, I find most fairly boring, however I’ve tried a number of successful ones that really excel (Allagash Odyssey and Alesmith Grand Cru for instance). The addition of sake aging made this a beer I was interested in trying, but it was ultimately a letdown. It’s an inoffensive, but merely ok beer that doesn’t wow. For me, it’s a pretty simple, slightly bland beer that isn’t worth the money. The sake aging doesn’t add enough to justify the expense, even for craft heads. Perfectly fine, but too timid to make much of an impression.