Total Score: 8.35/10
Yes, yes, Hitachino Nest! This time I’ve got my hands on their Japanese Classic Ale, done in an English [read: less hops, more malt than an American] India Pale Ale. Once again Hitachino Nest brings a unique Japanese craft brewers eye to the classic English IPA style by introducing American Chinook hops, German Munich malt, and in a日本人 twist: Maturing in cedar barrels. Well I’m sold. Let’s see if Hitachino has maintained its remarkable sense of idiosyncrasy along with exceptional quality and flavour [yes I have little doubt this will be anything other than outstanding].
Poured from a 330ml into a Duvel tulip.
A: Hazy, dotted with yeast particle deep tangerine body with a thin cream coloured lace for a head. Because yeast particles and I get along my score for this is perhaps higher than it should be. 8/10.
S: A big toffee note on this one, with hints of wood from the cedar, earthy tones, the toffee is quite sweet with nuttiness as well… again Hitachino cannot be accused of being ordinary. Cedar is awesome, I’m surprised it isn’t used in more brews. 8/10.
T: Complexity is again Hitachino’s strong point – the notes of sweet nutty toffee mingle with cedar wood, earthy/piney Chinook hops finish with a hint of bitterness… then throw in a hint of black pepper. Yes this one has characters of an English IPA but with a smattering of other tastes to elevate this to a new level. If you don’t like this brew or you think it needs more hops – you need a tongue transplant, because damn this is fantastic! 9/10.
M: Mid to light, borderline medium bodied with a nice creamy carbonation. Body is good, not great. 7/10.
D: So the big question, for me at least, is how does it compare to other Hitachino Nest brews? Well it’s up there with their White Ale, Red Rice Ale and the Celebration Ale, but again it is a different (quite woody) take on a classic style, so they’re really all “must try” brews – if you, like I, have tried hundreds upon hundreds of beers and you haven’t had a Hitachino brew – then expect the unexpected… but not too much – I don’t want to overhype the beer [you should never overhype the beer: I guarantee I’ll be disappointed with my first Westvleteren XII now]. Get this beer. 8/10.
Food match: I know I have a habit of recommending cuisines from the same country as the beer but this would really hit the spot with green bean and shiitake tempura with ponzu mayo, kampai!