Suntory Kohaku no Zeitaku

Suntory Kohaku no Zeitaku Can

Japanese Name: サントリー 琥珀の贅沢
Brewer: Suntory
Release: Oct. 12, 2010
Type: Happousei (発泡性)
Alcohol: 6%
Purchase Price: ¥139 @Sankus (conbini)

Suntory Kohaku no Zeitaku Pour

Tasting notes:
I first tried this 3rd-tier happousei in November 2009 when it was first released, and it was one of the first beers I posted to Facebook. Here is my original comment:

Kohaku no Zeitaku from Suntory. Uses “aroma hops” for a rich taste. Ever so slightly resembles microbrews from the NW. Probably the closest you’ll find to Mirror Pond from a large brewer here.

Kohaku no Zeitaku poured into a glass has a lovely amber color, and hence kohaku in the name. Zeitaku means, “luxury” and describes the ingredients and the brewing process. First, it is aged 1.5 times longer than the average beer producing a more distinct flavor, next it uses 100% aroma hops, of which 50% or more are Cascade hops for a fresh aroma, and finally the malt is roasted to produce more flavor and color.

I immediately noticed the nose of the hops, which is to be expected. On my first gulp, I really enjoyed the sweeter fruit-like flavors that express themselves on the beginning to mid-palate. However, I found it odd that no flavor lingered on the back palate except the effervescence of CO2; I was expecting the hoppiness to stick around a bit longer. One plus was that the higher than average 6% alcohol content was not an overbearing component in the flavor, like in others I’ve tasted.

For what Kohaku no Zeitaku is supposed to be, it’s definitely a lighter beer than you would expect, anything heavier would probably have a hard sale on the mass market. Thinking back to my first can last year, I don’t remember what I was going through my head at the time, but after drinking more “amber” brews from the big-four, I found myself a little disappointed this time around. Also note that for a 3rd-tier happousei the price is over 20% higher than the usual, at a loss of 20mL with the 330mL sized can. The price you pay for zeitaku.

Official Site

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