Asahi Dry Premium | Iritate Koku no Premium

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Japanese Name: アサヒスーパードライ ドライプレミアム 煎りたてコクのプレミアム
Brewer: Asahi
Release: Feb. 17, 2015
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 6.5%
Purchase Price: ¥224 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes:
Iritate (just roasted) Koku no Premium is the newest edition to the Asahi Dry Premium lineup. It is made with malt, partly Japan grown, roasted in country to give this beer a freshly roasted flavor. At 6.5% ABV, this Japanese lager is sure to get you buzzing, but let’s see if it’ll get you into a blissful mood.

Pour slowly for a nice creamy head. In the glass Iritate has a wonderful deep golden color. The nose is composed mainly of rich malt with hints of vinegarish acidity. Your first gulp will be quite pleasant. The flavors come right up front, malt and hoppy bitterness, very rich with plenty of effervescence. The finish is very clean with just a hint of cheek-puckering tang, staying true to the Super Dry label.

This variation of the Asahi Super Dry Premium line is quite good. It’s got just the right amount of flavor without going overboard, and that will keep you reaching for a second and third can. Iritate Koku no Premium can still be found on store shelves, so check it out while available. Cheers!

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Kirin Ichiban Shibori | Komugi no Umami

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Japanese Name: キリン 一番搾り 小麦のうまみ
Brewer: Kirin
Release: Mar. 24, 2015
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥183 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes:
Marking its 25th year on the market, Kirin’s Ichiban Shibori brand has created a wheat beer entitled Komugi no Umami using its Ichiban Shibori brewing method. Here’s the rundown!

Komugi no Umami pours out into the glass with a wonderfully light and fluffy head. Unlike most wheat beers, it’s quite a bit darker than you’d expect and has a very yeasty, chewy aroma somewhat like freshly kneaded dough. The first gulp is unlike any standard Japanese beer. From the moment it passes across the lips and tongue, you can sense a creamy, hearty mouthfeel. And while going down the throat with a little air to bring out the flavors, it’s very rich yet delicately smooth. The finish is nice and clean without a lot of bitterness, yet has a touch of acidity.

For those beer drinkers seeking something flavorful, but lacking the usual hoppy bitterness that comes along with the more interesting brews, Kirin’s Komugi no Umai is what you’ve been looking for. It is really unlike anything Kirin has released to date, and is a must try. Komugi no Umami might not suit everyone’s taste, but it is yet another example of the Big Four trying expand the tastes of the mass market.

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2015 Asahi Super Dry Special Package

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Arriving for the 2015 hanami season, Asahi pulled out all the stops for the boldest package design yet. Forgoing the usual silver dress, this can is decked out in sakura pink and is sure to appeal to the beer buying OLs.

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Sapporo Mugi to Hop Commemorative Can

The City of Kanazawa, in Ishikawa Prefecture has been in the news quite often as the opening of the new Hokuriku Shinkansen line approaches. To commemorate this event, Sapporo has released this new can design featuring an illustration of the W7 under the Mugi to Hop label. I just happened to find it at the Heart-in convenience store in Kanazawa station so I had to pick it up.

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Sapporo Lager Beer (Conbini Ltd.)

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Japanese Name: サッポロ ラガービール
Brewer: Sapporo
Release: Dec. 23, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥292 @Circle K (500mL can)

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Tasting Notes:
Released to the convenience stores here in Japan in December was Sapporo Lager Beer, which was has been brewed since 1877. Its pasteurization process is said to produce this beer’s flavor.

As Japanese lagers go, this one from Sapporo is what would probably be the reference point. It’s got some nice malt going on, with lots of acidity and bitterness on the end. The finish isn’t as clean as you’d find in the more recent brews, but that’s the appeal. The nice thing about this lager is how the flavors build. Gulp after gulp, the bitterness and fullness get more intense as you empty your glass. And that, to me, is the genius of the original Japanese lagers.

Sapporo Lager Beer is probably heading off the conbini shelves soon. I grabbed the second to last 500mL can near my home, so check this one out while you can.

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Kirin Fuyu Nodogoshi | Hanayagu Koku

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Japanese Name: キリン 冬のどごし<華やぐコク>
Brewer: Kirin
Release: Nov. 11, 2014
Type: Happousei (発泡性)
Alcohol: 6%
Purchase Price: ¥105 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes:
Fuyu Nodogoshi from Kirin was a surprise newcomer to the Japanese winter brew scene this year. It promises to satisfy with its use of caramel malt and late hopping to increase the aroma. Here’s how Fuyu Nodogoshi stacks up.

With a deep golden color in the glass, Fuyu Nodogoshi appears to be a completely new brew unlike any other in the Nodogoshi line. Indeed it has a heavier nose, very hoppy with hints of malt along with a strong scent of alcohol. Taking my first gulp, Fuyu Nodogoshi has a very rich, thick mouthfeel. On the palate are fresh hops, slight hints of pine and a slight corn-like sweetness.

To date, Fuyu Nodogoshi is the best tasting effort ever from the Nodogoshi brand. It has a wonderful richness that pairs well with winter foods here in Japan, along with a unique flavor profile that you just don’t see everyday, especially at the new genre price point. While not my favorite this winter, it’s definitely in the top ranks. Fuyu Nodogoshi is a must try.

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Suntory Craftsman’s Beer Vol. 3 | Kasshuku no Yoin (Brown Ale Type)

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Japanese Name: サントリー クラフトマンズ ビア 褐色の余韻
Brewer: Suntory
Release: Dec. 9, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 5%
Purchase Price: ¥205 @Aeon

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Tasting Notes:
Suntory’s third installment of its Craftsman’s Beer line exclusive to the Aeon grocer chain, is Kasshoku no Yoin meaning… well, a lingering memory of brown? It is an all malt brown ale as the package states.

As you might expect it pours an unusually dark amber boardering on brown in the glass. Kasshoku has a fruity sweet aroma full of hops and a nice creamy head. On your first gulp you will encounter a full bodied, chewy mouth feel. It has a well rounded roasted malt flavor up front in addition to bitterness that spreads across the palate. A refined sweetness shows off this ale, with hints of orange peel and cognac. The finish is somewhat light however, with the bitterness tapering off at the end.

Kasshuku no Yoin is an excellent offering from Suntory. It’s really showing off the direction of the Big Four, and how the tastes of the Japanese market are changing. Again, an ale is rare from the major brewers, so Kassuku is a welcome breath of fresh air. That, combined with its well-rounded flavor, make this beer a must try. Hopefully, we’ll encounter more of this kind of beer in 2015.

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