Food and Drink


The Rise of Japanese Micro-Brews

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Some people think Corollas are boring. Sure they’re well engineered, rarely break down and don’t cost much to maintain, but they’re about as exciting as doing laundry.

For a long time Japanese beers available in Australia suffered a similar problem. Sapporo’s most redeeming feature is it’s inoffensiveness, Asahi is completely innocuous and Kirin Ichiban, whilst certainly drinkable is formidably forgettable.

However a newer, flashier breed of Japanese micro-brewed beers is changing all that. Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout from the Kiuchi Brewery, is more like a Lexus than a Corolla.

The Espresso Stout is brewed using an imperial stout recipe as a base. Imperial stouts are more robustly flavoured, with an alcohol content typically above 7.5%. They were first brewed in England for export to Catherine the Great and the higher alcohol ensured the beer would not freeze on a ship in the Baltic.

Whilst Kiuchi isn’t the first brewery to derive bitterness from coffee beans rather than hops, I’m pretty sure they’re the first to add coffee beans during brewing to a stout. Their Espresso Stout has developed aromas of chocolate, cocoa and black currants. Very dark black with a brown head, it tastes like it smells but with even more complexity, with vanilla tones thrown into the mix. Overall, the stout is bitter, but balanced.

A dense flourless chocolate cake could accompany this beer because of the similar depth and intensity of flavour. An excellent brew, I’ll bet Hitachino Nest’s Espresso Stout is just the beginning of a new wave in Japanese boutique beers.


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