Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

For all of you that are purely visually inclined, I'm sad to say that I just found out one of my SD cards is corrupt.  As a result, I've lost pictures of three of my last Beer entries.  So unfortunately, for the next few posts you're going to have to use your imagination a little.  I promise to do my best describing them.

Japanese brewing is taking off.  I've done one entry about this already, but I'm seeing more and more interesting brews coming over from the Far East.  Kiuchi Brewery is certainly one of the largest exporters of craft brews and you can find their Hitachino Nest line in a number of stores, bars, and restaurants around LA.  Most often you'll find their White Ale or the Hefe, however, Beverage Warehouse has recently started carrying a few of their other beers.  Of particular interest to me was this Espresso Stout.  Unfortunately, all the info about it is in Japanese, so I can't tell you too much behind the ethos, but I can share how it tastes. 

It pours a beautiful black/brown with a lovely tan head.  Lacing is decent and sustains for a minute or so, but is slowly dissipating.  Aroma is rich chocolate grains with a bit of black currant and the slightest hints of burned espresso and alcoholic phenols.  The body is solid for a single, but a little lighter than some of the other massive coffee stouts I've been drinking recently. 

While the finish is a marvelous mixture of chocolate and oily espresso beans, the front end has a strange bitter coffee flavor that mixes with the grains and yet somehow doesn't work.  It's the same bitter flavor that I get when I accidentally chew on the coffee grinds from the french press (this happens more often than I'd like to admit).  While this is a marvelous achievement of authenticity, it unfortunately really overpowers some of the beautiful subtle chocolate and espresso flavors that I can taste buried under the grinds.  Other than that, it's a pretty solid stout.  The hopping is just right to leave big acidic remnants at the end of your sip and when combined with the massive bitter coffee flavor, it really creates a deep and complex flavor for you meditate on before your next sip.

Espresso Stout: ***

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