Japanese Name: サントリー グランドゴールド
Release: Jun. 24, 2014
Type: Happousei （発泡性）
Purchase Price: ￥112 @Nyu Sankyu
Following up on the 2013 Gold Brew collaboration with the CGC Group, Suntory has again released a new genre brew for 2014 called Suntory Grand Gold. The previous new genre brew was pretty solid, so it’s time to see if Suntory brang the good stuff.
Grand Gold pours out a nice golden color. You can smell the hops coming off the head. It’s very rich up front, while the flavors dissipate mid-palate, ending with lots of effervescence and bitterness on the back. There’s a slight metallic tinge that lingers on the palate.
All-in-all, Suntory has a worthy new genre brew in Grand Gold. This brew has enough flavor to keep things interesting, without any off-putting sweetness. My only complaint would be the metallic aftertaste. Give it a try.
Japanese Name: セブンゴールド 金のビール
Release: Apr. 14, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Purchase Price: ￥228 @7-eleven
Another beer produced in cooperation between 7&i holdings and Suntory, Kin no Biru is a premium all malt beer made with four types of barley malt including Japanese grown Golden barley malt and aroma hops. It was released under the 7&i Gold brand which is 7-11’s premium label for a limited time. Here’s the rundown.
In the glass Kin no Biru has, as the name states, a golden color; it’s deeper than your standard Japanese beer. On the nose, there is malt, tart green apple, and hints of vinegarish acidity… very cider-like. Your first gulp will reveal the sweetness, it starts off almost like drinking apple juice. Full-bodied malt takes over the mid-palate, while a slightly cheek puckering bitterness comes in on the backend.
The sweetness lends a comparison to a sparkling wine in some respects, more like the sparkling apple cider you drank as a child while your parents were drinking champagne. While it is definitely a solid beer, the sweetness gets to me, for the amount of sweetness I think it needs a ton more bitterness to balance it off. At 6.5% ABV, you can get a nice buzz going if need be.
Japanese Name: キリン のどごし ICE
Release: Jun. 3, 2014
Type: Happousei （発泡性）
Purchase Price: ￥100 @Aeon
Kirin’s Nodogoshi Nama is one of the major players of the third tier malted beverages here in Japan. I don’t usually drink it, so I’ve never gotten around to reviewing it. However, the limited summer Nodogoshi Nama ICE version crossed my path so I had to check it out. Its ingredients list Hersbrucker Hops from Hallertau, Germany using Kirin’s ICE production method.
Nodogoshi ICE pours a very light color, almost like clear lemonade. For the most part has little flavor. There’s a slight hint of hops, a tiny bit bitterness, and a little sweetness. It drinks smooth with no aftertaste.
Find yourself at the beach with a hibachi going, you’ll be set with this one. It’s actually a lot better than the standard Nodogoshi Nama, which has some medicine-like bitterness, but even so Nodogoshi ICE is better left to be drank on someone else’s dime.
Japanese Name: サントリー モルツ サマードラフト
Release: Jul. 15, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Purchase Price: ￥223 @Sankus
Malt’s Summer Draft from Suntory was one of the only true beers brewed especially for the 2014 summer months. This all malt Japanese beer was released through the conbini circuit, and on top of its all malt base, it was brewed with citra hops for their fresh fruity flavors. Without even pouring the can, one can almost imagine what Summer Draft will taste like. Let’s see how imagination meets reality.
The package design for Summer Draft is very eye appealing. I like the feeling the use of green, blue, and gold bring out; it’s quite refreshing just to look at the can. Poured into the glass, Summer Draft is has the usual straw color and maybe I was looking at the can too long… it seemed to have a hint of green. The air above the head is fresh and crisp, nice and hoppy. My first gulp was wonderful. Summer Draft has a flavorful light body, crisp effervescence on the tongue, with balanced acidity. Pine comes through on the back, as does a perfect amount of bitterness.
Suntory brewed a real winner with Malt’s Summer Draft. When I think of a summer brew, I imagine something light and refreshing, something you can drink gallons of on hot days. Summer Draft has the lightness and it is definitely refreshing, but you also get a ton of flavor and bitterness you’d expect in a quality beer. I’m truly disappointed that I didn’t discover Malt’s Summer Draft until late August, as they’re already disappearing from the conbini shelves. And even though the fall brews are just starting to arrive, I think Suntory Malt’s Summer Draft has my vote for best seasonal beer of 2014!
Japanese Name: アサヒスーパードライ ドライブラック バースタイル ライム
Release: Apr. 22, 2014
Purchase Price: ￥188 @Aeon
Last year, Asahi released a citrus beer-taste beverage called Panache. This year they’ve chosen to add a hint of lime to a dark beer-like happoshu. Here’s the rundown.
Pouring out a dark brown, Asahi Dry Black Lime is comparable in color to other Japanese black lagers. The scent of freshly squeezed lime permeates the air above the head. Your first gulp is predominately lime, and you can almost feel the pulp in your mouth. As far as the “dry black” part, if I were blind taste testing I do not think I would know this was a “beer,” it almost tastes like cola with lime. The lime gives a nice refreshing citrus edge, provides some acidity, and just dominates the drink.
That being said, I do like Asahi Dry Black Lime Black. The lime gives a nice change of pace and it does taste like freshly squeezed lime. Overall it’s a very refreshing beverage on a hot summer day.
Japanese Name: アサヒオリオン夏いちばん
Release: May 27, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer
Purchase Price: ￥320 @Nagoya International Airport Okinawa Fair
I first learned about Natsu Ichiban back in 2013. It’s a limited brew from Orion that was only sold in Okinawa, and thus I was never able to buy it. On a trip to Nagoya a while back, they happened to have an Okinawa Fair and I came across a can for a completely outrageous price. Being more affordable than traveling to Okinawa I decided to pick it up. The one I bought may have come from the 2013 lot, but I can’t verify that. Natsu Ichiban is an all malt (1.2x more malt compared to Orion Draft) and uses 100% aroma hops.
Orion Natsu Ichiban pours out with a little more color than most Japanese lagers and creates a nice head. On your first gulp you’ll encounter tons of malt without much bitterness. It has a very sweet creamy flavor similar to Sapporo Classic and finishes with just a tad of bitterness.
In the end, Orion Natsu Ichiban is just so-so. The flavors are a little disjointed. The sweetness comes on strong and the bitterness kicks in well after its down the throat. Finally, there’s a unique flavor that I can’t put my finger on, probably coming off the hops since it shoots off the bitterness. If you find yourself in Okinawa this summer, try it out for yourself and leave an opinion in the comments.
Japanese Name: 金麦クリアラベル
Release: May 13, 2014
Type: Happousei （発泡性）
Purchase Price: ￥108 @Aeon
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.