reviews, recommendations, recipes, and The Bar Project

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

Posted by dave

Japanese Classic Ale

I’m walking down Pine street in Philadelphia, and happen upon this small deli that sells a whole international selection of beers. Bonus – they have a “make your own six pack” policy on all these international beers, so at least a few reviews will your way be coming.

Not going to spend a lot of time on this ale, but it deserves a taste should you happen upon it. It’s not cheap – a single 11.2 oz bottle cost a whopping $2.50, but it’s certainly worth having at least one for your own beer edification. Nothing wrong with being able to say “oh, Hitachino Nest Beer’s Japanese Classic Ale? Of course I’ve had it. Where have you been?”

Brewed by Kiuchi Breweries in Japan, the Japanese Classic Ale is part of their Hitachino Nest Beer brand which, ironically, only includes ales. That not withstanding, it’s known most commonly for the little owl that adorns the several ale varieties they brew and distribute, which is not that wide, but getting wider in the US.

As for the beer itself… this is an ale for those who like an ale with a little exotic flavor behind it.

First, it pours nicely, with a staying head – for an ale, anyway. The head is creamy looking, which incidentally is a great indicator for the texture of the beer itself. It’s amber color reminds you more of a porter than anything, and it’s not entirely transparent, eliciting thoughts of a yeasty weisen. There is definitely a fine sediment in the beer, but it doesn’t settle, so you’re not left with soaked sand at the end of the beer.

The flavor is damn nice too. The hops isn’t hidden at all. For me, I’m a hops lover through and through. When I think of delicacy, I think of Hop Devil or Hop Hazard. But since hops strong enough to peel paint off of your car isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I’ll guarantee you that this brew is not to the level of assaulting. However, it certainly doesn’t shy away from the hops either, demanding the drinker at least appreciate the role hops has to play in this solid ale.

The most interesting part of this brew actually strikes you almost immediately. Although stated quite clearly on their label, the Japanese Classic Ale is matured in cedar casks while it ferments. If you didn’t read this fact, the interesting flavor may throw you for a loop as you try to figure out the woody, yet difficult-to-place taste. Having read “cedar” on the bottle, however, I was immediately able to understand what I was tasting.

This ale is quite smooth, and leaves a nice softness on your tongue. The cedar flavor is outstanding, and really separates this from other ales. The price is definitely a bit high, but I may have been able to get a better price somewhere else. At $2.50 a bottle for less than 12 oz, I don’t see myself being a regular investor. However, the alcohol content does stand at a nice hearty 7% ABV, so it certainly packs a small punch.


Posted in Ale, Beer, General, Japanese


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