Total Score: 8.5/10
I must say that I admire Hitachino Nest’s work as a brewery – they always seem to strive for unique styles and brews, this time we will have a go of their Commemorative Ale as it is a special occasion for me (my weekend begins now). First off I love the label – very reminiscent of Hokusai (one of my top 10 favourite artists). There is no description for the style of this Ale but with ingredients such as Orange Peel, Coriander, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Beans I’m going to categorise it as a Festive Witbier.
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.
A: Cloudy deep copper body with a thin off-white lace ring around the glass. It appears quite dense and lush, I’m really looking forward to the first sip. 9/10.
S: Very nice, festive and spicy with all the above noted ingredients: Orange Peel, Coriander, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Beans – plus some dark fruits (plum, date, macerated dark cherries). The whole aroma gives of a Christmas fruit cake fragrance. 8/10.
T: Sensational! This is one Christmas fruit cake beer not to be trifled with! Festive puns aside there is a hell of a lot going on with this brew – Orange Peel, Coriander, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Vanilla Beans (yes, yes, yes and yes), plus those dark fruits and a truckload of molasses that sticks to your mouth. It finishes with a slight herbal hop note and a touch of spirit burn at the back of the throat. It has to be one of the most aggressively flavoured/balanced beers at 8% ABV that I’ve ever had, fantastic! 9/10.
M: Heavy bodied with some stickiness from that molasses and a dense but light carbonation. 8/10.
D: The more I drank the more hop bitterness came to the fore, it’s a minor distraction from this Festive Witbiers overall score. As far as the flavours go this is a beer that would give some of the Trappist brews a run for their money – it is a BIG, hairy, challenging Ale with finesse that is not often seen (or tasted) outside of Belgium. Hitachino Nest have once again shown just how much the Japanese craft brewers can be players in this large boutique beer world. Kampai! 8/10.
Food match: I would recommend this brew after that big traditional Christmas dinner but before or with that traditional Christmas pudding.