Orion Chura Time

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Japanese Name: アサヒオリオン ちゅらたいむ
Brewer: Orion
Release: May 2015
Type: Happousei (発泡性)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥105 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes: Continue reading

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Suntory Craft Select Vol.2 | Brown Ale

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Japanese Name: サントリー クラフトセレクト ブラウンエール
Brewer: Suntory
Release: May 12, 2015
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥257 @FamilyMart

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Tasting Notes:
Volume 2 in Suntory’s Craft Select series is, Brown Ale, released in tandem with Suntory’s Pale Ale. It is made in part with Caramel malt and should make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside with its deep fragrant favor and bitterness. Here goes, down the hatch!

As expected Brown Ale pour out a deep burgundy in the glass. A warm roasted malty aroma wafts off the head. The first gulp is a very familiar Suntory flavor, once again with the roasted malt a little nutty in taste, with a little tang on the cheeks. A decent amount of bitterness comes across in the back of the mouth.

While it is a decent beer in its own right, Suntory’s Brown Ale just seems to be an afterthought of the Craft Select series. Suntory puts out several amber beers per year ranging from true Japanese beer to new genre and they all have this sort of flavor. If you’ve only got 300 yen in your pocket at the conbini, you’re going to want to choose their Pale Ale for a taste of something different.

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Suntory Craft Select Vol.1 | Pale Ale

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Japanese Name: サントリー クラフトセレクト ペールエール
Brewer: Suntory
Release: May 12, 2015
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥257 @FamilyMart

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Tasting Notes:
Starting off Suntory’s new Craft Select series is Suntory Pale Ale. It’s an all malt beer starring Cascade hops to give a wonderful citrusy flavor. Obviously, this beer will not be your standard Japanese brew, so here’s the rundown.

Suntory’s Pale Ale pours out with an excellent frothy head that does stick around a bit. In the glass it has an appealing burnt orange hue. On the nose is an unusual fruitiness, with almost soap-like after-notes. Your first gulp with be very hoppy, showing off its full flavor right up front. It’s very fruity with hints of citrus while while the sweetness keeps the flavor well-rounded. The bitterness from the Cascade hops kicks in at the end, but does not build too much over the course of the glass. Interestingly, the aftertaste alternates between yeast, malt, and citrus.

This is a very easy drinking pale ale compared to its foreign and domestic microbrew companions. First of all, it is not over-hopped, while the flavors remain quite unique in comparison to other brews on the Japanese market. There is something in the fragrance and on the back of the palate that really does remind me of hand-made soap, maybe chamomile or rose… I can’t quite put my finger on it. In the end, Suntory’s Pale Ale is a must try if you’re into the bolder style of Japanese beers.

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Sapporo Mugi to Hop The Gold Kaoru Koku

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Japanese Name: サッポロ 麦とホップ The gold 薫るコク
Brewer: Sapporo
Release: May 12, 2015
Type: Happousei (発泡性)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥105 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes:
You can’t miss its package design on the store shelves. Graced in royal blue with golden lettering is the newest limited production brew from the Mugi to Hop line, The Gold Kaoru Koku. Slated as a “summer” release, Kaoru Koku features the use of rich golden malt and golden aroma hops, as well as Golden Star hops from Tono.

Sapporo’s Kaoru Kaku pours a nice creamy head. Its quite pale in the glass, but has a wonderfully fresh hoppy fragrance. The first gulp is very rich and full in the front of the mouth, slowly dissipating across the palate, replaced by a refined bitterness down the throat, leaving a gentle tang on the tongue.

From a price standpoint, Kaoru Koku is at the top of the heap. It’s got a great flavor profile, that is almost on par with a true Japanese beer. While the deep maltiness is not quite there, the bitterness of the hops combined with just the right amount of sweetness makes for a rich, satisfying brew.

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Kirin Aozora Komugi

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Japanese Name: キリン のどごし〈青空小麦〉
Brewer: Kirin
Release: May 12, 2015
Type: Happousei (発泡性)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥105 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes:
The newest new genre brew for Kirin is part of the Nodogoshi line, entitled Aozora Komugi, uses part wheat malt and a blend of hops to create its light fruity flavor. If this year’s winter limited from the Nodogoshi line serves as a guide, Aozora Komugi should be an interesting brew.

Kirin’s Aozora Komugi pours a light golden color accompanied by a yeasty dough-like aroma. The first gulp is quite fruity, with an unusual pineapple flavor that is quite strong. It has a nice amount of bitterness and effervescence on the back that serves to cleanse the palate.

I think Kirin is really leading the pack for new taste sensations. And for a summer brew, this new one is quite refreshing. I enjoyed the fruitiness combined with the bitterness to even things out in the end; it’s very well balanced. While Aozora Komugi is not one of those rich craft style brews, I hope it says on store shelves long enough to enjoy in the mid-summer months when you crave something light and refreshing.

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Asahi Super Dry Extra Sharp

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Japanese Name: アサヒスーパードライ エクストラシャープ
Brewer: Asahi
Release: Mar. 31, 2015
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 5.5%
Purchase Price: ¥183 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes:
Asahi’s newest edition to its Super Dry brand is Extra Sharp. This new one from Asahi is supposed to have a sharpness never before experienced in a beer, and uses a new brewing method that brings the temperature down to just before the beer’s freezing point to bring out this taste sensation. Apparently, you’ll want to skip the freezer if you’re in a hurry to chill this one. There’s a warning label that says Extra Sharp might freeze if you put it in there.

Asahi Extra Sharp pours out a very pale straw in the glass, forming a nice frothy head. The first gulp is very clean, not much in the way of any flavor up front but the mouth feel is quite different. It’s very tangy and cooling across the mid to back of the mouth, giving that “extra sharp” finish. Hints of malt do appear on the back of the palate, like the normal Super Dry.

To be honest, I’m not a fan. The taste of Extra Sharp is very menthol-like, and I feel as if I’m drinking something tainted with mouthwash. To top it off, the flavor of this beer is quite bland and doesn’t make you feel like you’re drinking an actual beer. Asahi Super Dry Extra Sharp needs to go back to the drawing board. Sadly to say, this is one of the worst brews on the market right now.

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Orion Shikwasa Beer Cocktail

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Japanese Name: アサヒオリオン シークァーサーのビアカクテル
Brewer: Orion
Release: Apr. 28, 2015
Type: Happoushu
Alcohol: 5.5%
Purchase Price: ¥127 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes:
If you’re living outside of Japan, chances are you’ve never heard of shikwasa before. Heck, I live in Japan and I’ve only heard of it a couple times, ordered as a cocktail in an izakaya. Native to Okinawa and Taiwan, a shikwasa (citrus dipressa) is a sour, lemon-like citrus fruit. Following the Asahi beer cocktail linage, Orion has been tasked to make this Okinawan style brew. I’ve heard good things about this one, so I’m excited to try it.

Pouring this brew out, you’ll notice the citrusy aroma right off the bat. It’s quite sharp, more sourish than a lemon. Your first gulp may just lock down your taste buds in a vice. Shikwasa Cocktail is quite a bit more sour than anything you may have encountered before, there’s absolutely no sweetness what-so-ever. And although I know I’m drinking a beer-like beverage, I can’t pick up any flavors besides the sourness.

If you’re a fan of sipping coronas out of a bottle with a wedge of lime, you might consider Orion’s Shikwasa Beer Cocktail. Oddly enough, at the moment I’m in a bit of confusion, I don’t really have anything bad to say about it, but I don’t know if I actually like it. The more I sip on this brew, a little bit of fruitiness comes out, as well as hints of maltiness and hoppy bitterness. I do feel that this is a must-try-brew, so if you get the chance, do check it out while it’s still on store shelves. Cheers!

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