Japanese Name: キリン 本格〈辛口麦〉
Release: Jul. 21, 2010
Purchase Price: ￥108? @Jusco
The “Dry War” is now in the relm of the dai-san happousei relm of beverages, with brewers all working to construct the perfect dry dai-san beer. In the middle of last summer Kirin released Honkaku Karakuchi Mugi, meaning “the real deal dry-tasting barley (beverage).” I had this puppy in the back of the fridge for a month, and finally got around to drinking it. Here we go!
First of all, the packaging is quite striking based on a marbled black/metallic blue can, and the mythical kirin beast atop. “Honkaku” is in bold kanji with “Karakuchi Mugi” below, while the characters in red mean “heightened impact x improved fermentation.” The can really stands out on the shelves.
So how does it taste? Honkaku out of the can has the standard straw color, nothing out of the ordinary. However, interestingly the bubbles produced were quite large compared to other beers, reminding me of one of the recent non-alcoholic beers. The end result was a head that dissipated quickly. On the nose, there was a little sweetness of the malt and hops, and a hint of citrus. My first sip, acidity really stood out in my mind, almost vinegary. Not in a bad way though, I’m thinking wine here. This is a stretch, but imagine a bone dry Riesling with some CO2 action going on, add in some malt and hop flavors, and you have Kirin Honkaku.
Honkaku is a clean drinking dai-san that is definitely dry. Really, it leaves the back of your tongue feeling like after you drink a glass of lemonade. I found this one quite interesting to drink; it has a completely different mouth-feel than anything I’ve tried to date, beer liken to wine. While it doesn’t quite fit with what I’m looking for in a daily drinker, I can see this one being popular with the mass Japanese audience.