Suntory Kinmugi Clear Label


Japanese Name: 金麦クリアラベル
Brewer: Suntory
Release: May 13, 2014
Type: Happousei (発泡性)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥108 @Aeon


Tasting Notes:
Kinmugi Clear Label is Suntory’s latest entry in the new genre category. In the glass, it has a nice golden hue. Your first gulp you’ll notice Clear Label has a very clean taste with hardly any bitterness, and is more on the sweet side.

It must have been a hot day; I drank Kinmugi Clear Label very quickly. And while not bad in anyway, it didn’t really have any sort of impact on me. The flavors were very plain with only the sweetness standing out.

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Suntory The Premium Malt’s | Kaoru Premium


Japanese Name: ザ・プレミアム・モルツ〈香るプレミアム〉
Brewer: Suntory
Release: May. 27, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 6%
Purchase Price: ¥245 330mL @7-eleven


Tasting Notes:
Suntory’s latest edition to the premium Japanese beer arena is Suntory The Premium Malt’s Kaoru Premium. It’s made with Diamond Malt and Saaz Fine Aroma Hops, and is one of the few ales to ever be produced by one of the big four.

Kaoru Premium pours out a beautiful gold in the glass. The fruitiness of the hops immediately permeates the air as you pour, showing off its ale qualities. That fruitiness transitions to the mouth, with a velvety smooth mouth feel. The back end reveals a little sweetness and a touch of bitterness giving a light crisp finish.

This summer, Suntory’s Kaoru Premium brings some freshness to the table. It’s really nice to see an ale among the lineup of Japanese lagers from the big four. The flavor of Kaoru Premium is so different from the standard fare making it a nice getaway, as the fruity sweetness is almost reminiscent of a cider. If you can afford the premium price drink it while it’s still on the shelves!

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Sapporo White Belg


Japanese Name: サッポロ ホワイトベルグ
Brewer: Sapporo
Release: May 13, 2014
Type: Happousei (発泡性)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥145 (tax incl.) @7-eleven


Tasting Notes:
(Note: I had not read the can label before taste testing.) Poured into the glass White Belg is the pale straw you’d expect from a wheat beer. It has a very flowery-fresh fragrant aroma, with hints of citrus. The first sip was completely unexpected, full of fresh citrus and something I couldn’t put my finger on. Vanilla? Rose? Only then did I pick up the can which listed orange peel and coriander. The back end has little bitterness, but the flowery notes stick around for a while, too long if you ask me.

Made with 50% Belgian malt, coriander seed, and orange peel, White Belg from Sapporo is definitely a concept brew. It’s nice to try something different once in a while, but White Belg was way over the top on its flowery flavors. I couldn’t help but think floral soap throughout the glass. I have the feeling White Belg is an acquired taste, but I sadly have to pass on a second can.


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Asahi Double Yeast


Japanese Name: アサヒ ダブル酵母
Brewer: Asahi
Release: Apr. 22, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 5.5%
Purchase Price: ¥210 @Aeon


Tasting Notes:
As its fifth limited release for the Aeon Group, Asahi created Double Yeast. It utilizes two types of yeast that combine to create a rich flavor “koku,” with some sharpness “kire.” Down the hatch!

Asahi Double Yeast pours out a refreshing blond in the glass, with the yeasty aroma immediately apparent. The first gulp embraces your mouth in effervescence carrying the flavors across the palate. It has a very creamy mouthfeel along with a decent amount of bitterness. Most prevalent is Double Yeast’s tang.

Asahi Double Yeast is an interesting concept, however in many ways it has a taste similar to some of the third tier new genre brews. While it’s a very delicious beer, I would like to taste more malt.

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Yebisu Royal Selection


Japanese Name: ヱビス ロイヤル セレクション
Brewer: Sapporo
Release: May 20, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer(ビール)
Alcohol: 5.5%
Purchase Price: ¥265 @FamilyMart


Tasting Notes:
Yebisu Royal Selection was recently released to market as a limited convenience store offering. The feature point of this all malt beer is that it is made with five types of malt: pilsner, caramel, wheat, crystal, and munich to produce a rich fragrant beer. On to the rundown.

Royal Selection pours out a deep caramel in the glass. Your first gulp is heavenly as a combination of bitter and sweet embraces your mouth, leaving hints of charred malt and dough on the back. The overall taste experience is quite dry, however, as the flavors tend to dissipate quickly leaving little aftertaste. They also don’t build on each other to enhance sip after sip.

The only negative comment I have is that the flavors are too “up front.” I wish they would stick around a bit longer and compound. Otherwise, it’s definitely a must try, so hit up your nearest conbini and shell out the cash.

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Suntory Wazen


Japanese Name: サントリー 和膳
Brewer: Suntory
Release: Apr. 8, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 3.5%
Purchase Price: ¥195 (6-Pack) @Aeon


Tasting Notes:
Usually when one thinks of traditional Japanese foods (sushi, sit-down kaiseki cuisine), the go to beverage would be sake (or Nihonshu as they say here). However, beer is probably the predominantly served alcoholic beverage when consuming most “Japanese” foods (yakitori, izakaya dishes, etc), and matches perfectly the more heavily flavored dishes. In the realm of sushi, sashimi, and the more delicately flavored cuisine beer can overpower the dishes, so Suntory created Wazen to better match the qualities of Japanese cuisine. It is crafted with 5 types of malt and has more umami than your average brew. Unfortunately, I was not able to taste test Wazen with my favorite Japanese cuisine, but here are my thoughts.

Wazen pours out a darker hue than you would expect. Your first gulp, will reveal hints of malt and a slight bitterness going down the throat. Undertones of tangy sweetness stick hang around as you contemplate the flavor, of which there is not much to be said. Suntory Wazen is pretty much lacking in the flavor department. I drank a 6-pack trying to pin down something interesting to point out, but nothing.

I like the idea of a beer that goes well with Japanese foods, but Suntory Wazen takes the fun out of drinking the beer. Beer needs to show off its malt and hops. Personally, I drink beer with all my sashimi, sushi,… whatever. However, if I was sitting at Jiro’s I would definitely reach for a glass of cold nihonshu over Wazen.

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Suntory Craftsman’s Beer 2014 Kifu no Kaori


Japanese Name: サントリー クラフトマンズ ビア 貴富の薫り
Brewer: Suntory
Release: Apr. 10, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥205 @Aeon


Tasting Notes:
First in a new line of limited edition beers for the Aeon Group is Suntory’s Kifu no Kaori, which means something like “The aroma of nobility.” Suntory has chosen to produce a wheat lager, more akin to wine than beer. Let’s see how they did.

This wheat lager poured out bit darker than I had imagined. It’s got an orangish hue in the glass. The Nelson Sauvin hops impart a very fragrant flowery aroma on the nose. The first gulp starts off very light, while the effervescence starts to release its flavors of fruit, with hints of citrus, and for some odd reason pizza dough, which must be coming from the wheat and yeast.

Suntory Kifu no Kaori is an interesting beer. It has a wonderfully full body without much bitterness at all. All the flavors are on the fruity side, with Suntory comparing their brew to white wine, which makes this beer unlike any that’s come to the mainstream market. Production has been halted, so if you haven’t tried Kifu no Kaori yet, you’d better get on the move.

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