Last July (2008) I was in Las Vegas having a meal with some friends at a restaurant called Shibuya at the MGM Grand and we discovered Hitachino Nest beers, specifically the Japanese Classic Ale. Hitachino Nest is a brand of beers that are brewed by the Kiuchi Brewery in Naka-shi, Japan. The Kiuchi brewery has been making sake since 1823, shochu since 2003, and beer since 1996.
I had been casually searching for this beer ever since July and in November 2008 I discovered City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA and that they carried several of the Hitachino Nest beers. One of those beers that I picked up was the Real Ginger Brew.
Unfortunately, there is no information on the Kiuchi Brewery website about this beer. It is a very unique beer and it would by nice to know a little background information about it.
It looks like this beer is bottle conditioned so I might try to harvest some of the yeast the next time that I try one of the Hitachino Nest beers.
Where I Found It. City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA.
Serving Type. Poured a 330ml bottle into a glass.
Appearance. This beer has a foamy but not frothy yellow-white head and does not leave much foam on the glass. A small layer of head remains on top. This beer is hazy, which might be expected of an herb/spice beer, and has an amber or dark honey color.
Smell. Real Ginger Brew has a ginger aroma like that of ginger ale or ginger beer, which is a sweet smooth ginger smell. In fact the smell is almost indistinguishable from ginger ale or ginger beer. The bouquet is spicy with a bit of cloves and is enhanced by the ginger while accompanied by a light fruitiness. The hops are not pronounced and the malt only seems to be a vehicle to deliver the sweet ginger-ale-like smell. There is also a slight bready or yeast aroma present. I enjoy the ginger aroma but the yeast detracts from it a little bit.
Taste. The most pronounced taste of this beer is sweet malty ginger. It is almost as if this is a ginger beer made with malt, instead of cane sugar, and contains alcohol. It actually contains 7% alcohol but the astringent alcohol flavor is masked completely by the other flavors. Backing the ginger beer flavor is a sweet maltiness that is complemented with a touch of smooth hop bitterness. As you drink more of this brew the spiciness of the ginger builds but not so much that is it overpowering. All of these aspects combine to produce a crisp and refreshing flavor.
Mouthfeel. Real Ginger Brew is well carbonated, which adds to the comparison to ginger ale, and is a medium-light bodied beer. The taste of the ginger lingers just for a bit and fades nicely.
Drinkability. This beer is strong in alcohol content and strong in ginger flavor. On one hand it is crisp and refreshing like a ginger ale but also like a ginger ale I rarely want more than one. I would drink this again but I would not want more than one at a time. All in all it is an enjoyable beer.
Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.
- Appearance (20%): 3.5
- Smell (20%): 3.5
- Taste (40%): 3.5
- Mouthfeel (10%): 3.5
- Drinkability (10%): 3.0
- Overall: 3.45
Caption on the Bottle
The following caption is found on the back of the beer bottles of Real Ginger Brew:
Fresh ginger roots aded to the brewkettle create and intriguing balance of ginger-spicy, sweet-malty and hoppy-dry flavors and aromas.
- Style: Herb Spice Ale
- Brewery: Kiuchi Brewery
- Alcohol by volume: 7.0%
- Other ingredients: ginger
- Bottle conditioned
- Beer Advocate rating: 3.69 (as of April 1, 2009)