I recently stumbled upon a cheese store near the Skullsplitter croft that has an extremely diverse beer selection. I spent a lazy Sunday hunting through their selection of fine cheeses and beers, and I came across the Espresso Stout from Kiuchi Brewery. We haven’t dealt much with Japanese breweries here at aleheads.com, so I thought it might be interesting to cross the Pacific for a change. Being a big fan of Kiuchi’s flagship beer, the Hitachino Nest White Ale, I decided to pick up a bottle of the Espresso Stout to try my luck with something new. I was rewarded with an excellent espresso stout and a desire to sample more of the Hitachino Nest beers.
Kiuchi Brewery is located in Naka, in the Ibaraki Prefecture of Japan. They have been brewing sake and shochu since 1823. In 1996, Kiuchi introduced its line of beer, the Hitachino Nest beers. Apparently they use a “hint of our traditional sake brewing method” in brewing their beer.* The Hitachino Nest beers are easily recognizable by their labels, all of which contain a psychotic owl that looks like something out of the Mr. Sparkle commercials. Join me or die! Can you do any less?
*I have no idea what this means.
The Espresso Stout came in an 11.2 fl. oz. bottle with the familiar cartoon owl on the front. The label was mostly written in Japanese, so I had no idea what it said. However, confident from past experience with the Hitachino Nest brews, I cracked open the bottle and poured it into a pint glass. The beer was extremely dark and had a large caramel-colored head that lasted for the entire glass. The aroma, unsurprisingly, starts with a huge coffee smell, followed by some chocolate and a large presence of roasted malt. The flavor, again unsurprisingly, has a big espresso/mocha beginning, and then an interesting spicy/sweetness on the back end. The sweetness at the end makes the beer almost a little syrupy. While this does it give it an intriguing flavor profile, it also hurts the beer’s overall drinkability. I don’t think I would sit down and have more than 1 or 2 of these in a sitting (which, considering the beer’s 7.5% abv, is probably a good thing). On the whole, though, the beer is a great example of an espresso stout and I give it three hops as a solid, tasty beverage. I look forward to trying some of the other Hitachino Nest brews.