Kirin Lager (the real stuff from Japan)

Total Score: 6.15/10 Barley1Corn1CutGrass1Stein1

This is it: The real Kirin, made in Japan with malt, rice and corn, in all its 334mls of glory. If you’ve ever had that other crap they sell here in Australia – Kirin Megumi or whatever it’s called – you might think that you’re not missing out on anything. But you are: Real Japanese Lagers are a delightful crispy treat – like Peking duck. Problem is if want a real Japanese Lager you need to shop at a Japanese boutique grocery store, and they’re few and far between. I shop at Genki Mart Alderley, they have a small but decent selection of real Japanese beers… it’s a shame the powers that be at Kirin feel that they have to brew their Lager as a crappy Aussie Macro Lager under licence – there’s got to be a real market for authentic Japanese Lagers now.

Poured from a 334ml bottle into a stein.

A: Hazed light golden body with a 1 centimetre white head that compacts down to a lace blanket. Looks fairly good as far as Lagers go, not sure about the haze though – a bit uncommon with this style. 7/10.

S: Aroma is quite Sake forward, which is to be expected whenever rice is on the malt bill. Grainy notes, along with a touch of sweet corn round out a brew that is almost entirely malt-driven, again: to be expected. Overall the aroma is nothing remarkable, however real Japanese Rice Lagers tend to be average in this department. 5/10.

T: Dryyyy, malty/grainy/Sake from the get-go. Mid palate accentuates that dryness with – you guessed it: more dryness, hint of sweet corn as well. Finish is like a crisp winters day in the Sahara – long and dry. Did I mention dry? Yes? Ok, glad I covered that off. Taste couldn’t be further from the crap that’s brewed under licence that I’m starting to wonder if they even try to follow the original recipe. 6/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, none of the wateriness of the Australian brewed version, and a thin but active carbonation. Heaps better than expected. 7/10.

D: This is not a bad beer at all, not Yebisu Premium good, not Koshihikari Echigo good either, but a nonetheless decent example of a real Japanese Rice Lager which has been completely distorted by this “brewed under licence” crap. Why not just come out and say it – we Kirin brew under licence because we can trick consumers into thinking that they’re actually drinking a Japanese Lager when they’re really just drinking an [insert country name] Lager instead? #drinkrealjapaneselagersnotcrap 7/10.

Food match: Get some salted edamame beans and go for gold(en beer).

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Cervecería Regional Zulia

Total Score:  3.8/10 Corn1Barley1CutGrass1Stein1

If you’re wondering: I got this bottle of Cervecería Regional Zulia for free, it looks ripe for a total slam review by moi, however as always I will try to find merits in this Venezuelan Lager wherever they reside. That said: Green bottles are never a great idea for any brew (though they’re a bit better than clear bottles in preventing lightstruck beer IIRC). Hmmm, I think, yes it is – this is the first Venezuelan beer I’ve ever reviewed, not exactly a brewing powerhouse those Venezuelans, not a hell of a lot of competition going up against Zulia as far as I can tell. Guess Rum is the Venezuelan drink de choix.

Poured from a 330ml green bottle into a stein.

A: Clear pale yellow, like the colour of reasonably healthy urine – they should put that on a slogan – body with a white sea foam 1 centimetre head that sticks around reasonably well. Looks OK, smells – even with the glass sitting 30 centimetres away from me – foul (but we’ll get to that soon). 6/10.

S: Vegetal matter, DMS (rotting cabbage) aromas upfront and about as offensive as they can get. Paring with this belligerent reek is an odd and misplaced cotton candy sweetness. Typical of Latin American beers the primary problem is the result of being lightstruck (although that can be a stylistic choice – look at Corona for example). Overall it’s not great here. 2/10.

T: As per most equatorial brews – the closer you are to that line the less you want your beer to taste like a beer and more like a glass of soda water. Zulia is a living/breathing example of that equatorial ethos, being that it tastes 95% like a glass of soda water. Sadly the other 5% is a mixture of the above with corn and grainy notes. At least it isn’t as offensive as I was expecting, almost drinkable, if a tad boring. 4/10.

M: Light bodied with a decently fizzy carbonation to back it up. 5/10.

D: It’s not as terrible as I was expecting… though that was probably the lowest bar I set for a beer so the fact that it was able to make it as barely passable at all should come as no surprise. It is what it is: A cheap, boring, slightly inoffensive, corny, vegetable water – which you may as well pass up for any other drink you can get your hands on if you’re traveling through Venezuela and one which you would outright avoid as a waste of time if you’re not traveling through Venezuela. Yes, I drain poured the remainder. 4/10.

Food match: One of those meat pocket things they do so well over there.

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