Yebisu Natsu no Koku (2014)

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Japanese Name: ヱビス 夏のコク
Brewer: Yebisu
Release: May 7, 2014
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Alcohol: 7%
Purchase Price: Gift

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Tasting Notes:
Japan has two long standing gifting traditions. Oseibou is a gift given during winter and ochugen is given during summer to people or organizations with whom you have a special relationship. If you visit a department store or large supermarket they have whole departments devoted to these special gifts. Gift choices range from laundry detergent sets and special meat selections to beer sets. For the more important people in your life, you might choose to go all out and get a premium beer gift set like this one from Yebisu, the original “premium” beer. For the summer of 2014, Yebisu chose to create Natsu no Koku, meaning the “Richness of Summer.” It has a whopping 7% ABV and is recommended to be enjoyed on the rocks during the hot summer months. I never expected to be able to review this one, but a close friend sent me a can so here’s the low down.

Unusual for most Japanese beers, Natsu no Koku pours out dark, a somewhat burnt orange, reminiscent of an IPA. Its aroma is powerful: a very hoppy, fruity, deliciously sweet fragrance. The first gulp shows off Natsu no Koku’s full bodied flavor with huge malt and hops hitting you right from the start. This full-bodiness gives way ever-so-slowly to a round, welcomed bitterness all brought across the palate by the perfect amount of effervescence. Before you reach for another gulp, do stop to enjoy the cider-like citrusy sweetness left on the palate.

As far as Japanese beers go, Yebisu’s Natsu no Koku is up there with the best. Yebisu’s brew masters really do show off their genius with this one. The bold flavors hit you up front, yet slowly taper off with just the perfect amount of bitterness remaining on the finish. It’s full-bodied, yet not over bearing in any way, just perfect for any beer connoisseur looking for something different. Those of you living in Japan, this is a must gift for anyone you feel truly indebted to, and definitely is a must try if you can get your hands on it.

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