As I've mentioned before, my wife recently went back to LA on a business trip. Lovely woman that she is, she picked up some local brew's to bring back to me. Well one beer she picked up wasn't exactly local, it was from Japan, a country where craft brewing is really starting to ramp up due to recent law changes (they had a law that stated a brewery had to be a certain size which eliminated small breweries). I've heard a lot of good things about Hitachino, I know they make a really good wit beer and another one with rice that's very tasty, so when I saw this beer from Hitachino I was pretty excited to try it out. The brewery was actually founded in 1823 in the village of Konoshu, not brewing beer, but brewing sake. They brewed top quality sake for the next hundred and fifty or so years, then in 1996 they started brewing their own beer. As mentioned above they are known for making some pretty unique beers, and this one is no different as its an ale aged in Shochu barrels. Shochu is a distilled sake (think of it as Japanese whiskey). I actually have some of this at home from a trip to Japan a few years back and its pretty good stuff.
The Beer: The beer weighs in at 8% and pours an amber orangish color with lots of carbonation and a HUGE white head. The head had staying power as I was about halfway done and the head was still going strong. The nose is barnyardy (my sister-in law used the word dank), caramel, yogurt, malts. The mouth is creamy, with the funky barnyard taste up front, before some malt character in the form of roasted notes and caramel came out. Its tart and sour just what you want from a wild ale. Some fruity notes as it warms, along with wooden notes, a hint of schochu and just a small bit of vanilla. Overall while the beer definitely has that barnyardy sourness its not overpowering and its balanced by a lot of other flavor. This one gets an enthusiastic A from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.