Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kiuchi Brewery - Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH)

Last night, I cracked open a bottle of Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH). This was my second experience with Kiuchi Brewery, having tried their Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale a few months back. As with the Red Rice Ale, this beer has one of the better labels I've ever seen, adorned with their trademarked chubby owl that looks like he's had a few Red Rice Ales too many. The profile of this beer is totally different than the Red Rice Ale. This one is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale that is aged in sake barrels. Needless to say, this one should taste like nothing I've ever tasted before.

As soon as I popped the bottle, foam came gushing out and it was tough to control. After pouring, the head continued to rise and by the time the whole beer was in the tulip, the head was still out of the glass. The coloring was a light reddish brown with an enormous tan head that took about 5 minutes to settle to a light cap. The smells in this one are really interesting. I picked up some oak from the sake barrels, some sake, a little spiciness, cinnamon and some nuttiness as well. Nice.

The tastes in this beer are as unique as the smells. The beer is surprisingly sour and has hints of apple cider vinegar and tart green apple. There's a little sweetness upfront, but the finish is dry and tart with some sake flavor thrown in. I read one review that said that this beer tastes like a "beginners sour beer" and I think that's pretty accurate. The beer isn't full on sour, but it has hints of brett and a nice tartness to it that borders on sour. This is a really fantastic beer and maybe the best Japanese beer I've ever had.

Final Grade: A

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