Japanese Name: オリオンスペシャルＸ（エックス）
Release: Jul. 13, 2010 (Original)
Type: Liqueur (発泡性)
Purchase Price: ￥118 @Aeon
Beers from Orion do not often make it to mainland Japan. Outside of their standard lager and the occasional limited release, I don’t usually see them on the store shelves. So when I came across Special X I thought it was a new release, only to find out it’s been in production for over 4 years now. It’s interesting to note that even though this is a third tier brew, the ingredient list is quite similar to Asahi Super Dry and I’m sure they’ve incorporated some of Asahi’s brewing innovations. In any case, Special X is new to me so I’m excited to pop the top.
Special X pours out a somewhat light straw, ever so slightly lighter than most other new genre brews. There is a nice malty aroma coming off the head along with a strong presence of alcohol, plus some spicy pepper. On my first gulp the first thing to come was rich malt that dissipates mid-palate and comes back on the back end in the form of toasty roasted malt. For a new genre Special X has a hearty mouth feel and is on the full-body side of the spectrum. Its higher alcohol content lingers on the back end, but it does finish clean and dry.
Orion’s Special X is indeed special. Even though it’s in the budget third tier brew category, Special X has some complexities not found even among the true beers. It’s a very interesting brew, and I must say it is probably the best tasting new genre brew on the market. Outside of Okinawa, if you can find Orion Special X, do pick it up and give it a try. I do hope it continues to be stocked at my local Aeon. Cheers!