Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout and Classic Ale

Despite these being on my radar for a while, I didn’t get a chance to pick any up until visiting London last month for GBBF. Those of you that know me know I’ll have been sucked in by the impossibly-awesome labels; art that captures both my perceived eccentricity of Kiuchi Brewery – and to some extent the beers contained within.

Kiuchi Brewery has been around for ages (since 1850, in fact), but initially only brewed Sake  – introducing beer under the ‘Hitachino Nest’ banner in 1996. I’m glad they did, because the beers are unique and certainly worth checking out.

Espresso Stout (7.5%abv) pours viscous and black, but on the first sip the body turns out to be a little thinner than you’d expect. There’s warming alcohol on the nose, with a dense, almost soy-like note underneath that warmth (or was there – was it totally subliminal, given the beer?) and a touches of oak. The taste is of bitter black chocolate – there’s no creaminess in here at all, just deep espresso and chocolate notes. There’s a rounded edge to the beer, with a hint of cherry – and a hint of bitter orange on the finish. In fact, the finish is not unlike Jaffa Cakes in that respect. It’s a powerfully complex beer for the abv but once you’ve got your head around it, its worth drinking.

Classic Ale (7.5%abv) is also a pleasant twist on Amber Ale – it’s aged in Cedar Casks, and that gives this beer a dry, aromatic note that sets it apart from the ‘standard’ pale. The nose is very woody indeed, but then that gives way to a strange floral note that brings to mind Lavender or Parma Violet. That note is there in the body too, but underneath some initial sweetness. The finish is dry, but not too powerful. If it’s a pale ale you’re looking for, you’re probably in the wrong place – this is more akin to a Belgian Red or Blonde in terms of complexity of flavour.

I’ve also tried the Red Rice Ale whilst in London and also shared a bottle once I got back to Leeds. Despite neglecting to take a picture of it, I probably found this one the most accessible – brilliantly red in colour, with a sweet, pleasant, fruity nose of Lychee and Strawberry with that familiar woody, funky note underneath.

I’d certainly recommend seeking these out if you’ve not tried them; they are much more available in the UK now than a few years ago. Here’s what HopZine  thought of  them, and I would urge you strongly to check out their gloriously bonkers website. Right – I’m off to go watch some vintage Godzilla whilst listening to some Acid Mothers Temple.


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 29/09/2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I shared a bottle of this at GBBF with Marko from The Sparrow when I was getting bored of the warm beers on cask in earls court. I really enjoyed it, full of flavour. I too love those labels they look great! I have access to an occasional “Beer Mule” have visits Japan so fingers crossed in the future i may get more.
    When I was on Holiday in Rome they had loads of Japanese beers at Brassire 4:20 and a Japanese beer festival upstairs showcasing Baird beers. Alas I found out a day late and not much was left.

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