Japanese Name: キリン 一番搾り ２０１０ とりたてホップ
Release: Nov. 2, 2010
Purchase Price: ￥207 @Jusco
First released in 2004, this season marks the 7th harvest of hops from Tono in Iwate Prefecture to produce the 2010 vintage of Kirin Ichiban Shibori Toretate Hop. Kirin makes this beer with its “ichiban shibori” method using the first fermentation of the wort, adding only the freshly picked Tono hops for maximum flavor. My first taste of Toretate Hop was the 2008 harvest, and I recall liking it quite a bit. However, the weather in Japan this year was quite unfavorable to the Japanese farmer, so let’s see how the 2010 harvest faired.
Out of the can, the fragrant hoppy aroma is quite strong. My first impression was “citrus,” reminding me quite a bit of the Belgian White I reviewed previously. The taste of this beer is amazingly fresh, like the hops were picked right in front of your nose, but without being overbearing in any way. A perfect amount of effervescence compliments and brings the well rounded flavor across the tongue and down the throat.
As the name states, hops are what this beer is all about, with freshness being the key. However, being a beer for the Japanese mass market, the hop level is kept in check; Kirin does not pull out all the stops like you’d find in a microbrew. The lower amount of hops is what I like about Japanese beers, making sure that the flavor of the hops does not overwhelm the overall experience. Kirin Ichiban 2010 Toretate Hop is definitely worth a try. Find it at your local conbini or super market while supplies last.