Japanese Name: サントリー クラフトマンズ ビア 緋色の芳醇
Release: Mar. 10, 2015
Type: Japanese Beer (ビール)
Purchase Price: ￥205 @Aeon
Altbier is an old style beer with its origins in Düsseldorf, Germany. It characteristically uses top fermenting yeast to deliver a more fruity flavor, but yet retains the lightness of a lager. Suntory has chosen altbier for the fourth volume of its Craftsman’s Beer series for the Aeon Group. Entitled Hiiro no Houjun, which means the mellowness of scarlet, this all malt ale really does sound interesting.
Staying true to its name, Hiiro no Houjun does pour out an almost scarlet color, its dark with a brickish hue. The fragrance off the thick creamy head is unforgettable, showing off the qualities of its top fermentation. Up front, rich hops and caramelized malt show off this beer’s full body, yet drop off mid-palate giving way to a smooth bitterness that runs down the back of the throat. Its finish is rather short and unexpectedly light, leaving an additional last breath of bitterness in the front of the mouth.
Although I’ve never had the pleasure of trying a German Altbier, it would seem that Suntory’s Hiiro no Houjun stays true to the style. It shows of a wonderful fruitiness, yet does have the lightness and crispness of a lager style beer. This style really is strange to me however, as there’s so much flavor but it really just drops off and seems a little unbalanced for my taste. I do have to say it is very delicious and easy drinking, so if this flavor profile appeals to you it’s a worthwhile buy.