I've recently been hearing a lot about the up and coming brew culture in, of all places... Japan. I'm sure you've all noticed the many places now carrying the incredibly popular Hitachino Nest from the Kiuchi Brewery. Most bars have either their White Ale or Hefe, although I've read online that they make an Espresso Stout, Amber, Pale, and few others that I'd be more interested in trying. So when I saw this Ise Kadoya selection at Beverage Warehouse, I was very interested in giving it a try.
From what I can tell, they do a number of English/American styles including a Brown, Stout, Pale, Triple Hop, Scotch, as well as an Imperial IPA. I thought I'd start with what seemed the most basic staple of most American Breweries to see how it compares. According to the bottle, they've been making miso and soy sauce for centuries by the "traditional methods,"and they mean for this beer to follow in that same tradition. Only one way to find out...
Not much head on this despite my rigorous pour. The aroma is pretty surprising! Leaning over to take a whiff of what I thought was surely citrus and pine, was actually a much sweeter, almost cider like, apple and toffee smell. In addition, the color is much more orange than I would have expected.
Drinking this import in, I have to take a long sip to really appreciate all the flavors. It's a very interesting creation that Ise Kadoya has shipped over. The sugary aroma is not meant to mislead as it starts off like a big bite of an apple. Do not fear, however, as the sweeter elements fade away they are replaced by a very deep beta acid bitter, the kind that only effects the back of your tongue and wants nothing to do with the front. Strangely as the hops die down the beer finishes with a very malty aftertaste, which is quite surprising and distinct in flavor. You're left with the taste of what I can only describe as maltwater, which while not unenjoyable because of the incredible clarity of the roasted barley flavors, is perhaps not the best notion to be left with when drinking an IPA.
At 7%, this beer is complex and drinkable enough to satisfy me on a hot summer evening, however, it certainly is a far cry from the IPAs I know and love. I wonder if they wouldn't have more sucess with this beer if they called it a barleywine instead of an IPA? The richness of the malt flavors, the sweet front end, and the dominance of the beta acid hops make it far more like a barleywine than American IPA. As such I've given it three stars because it's an enjoyable beer, but certainly not an IPA.
India Pale Ale: ***