An Imperial From the Land of the Rising Sun
A Review of Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout by Kiuchi Brewery
Posted on 10/2/2011 by Chops
                   
Good
Whenever you think of quality beer regions, a few countries automatically come to mind. Germany, Belgium, Scotland, Ireland, etc. Japan is rarely synonymous with great beer, so I am always pleasantly surprised when I come across a tasty selection from the region. Today I was fortunate to try the Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, an imperial version from the land of the rising sun.

In the glass, this beer is stark black, pretty typical for a strong stout. There is a great deal of carbonation in this beer, so expect a really big coppery head. I had to jump in with a rescue gulp and napkin to prevent an overflow. The aroma really catches your nose with a lot of creamy coffee goodness. You can also pick out several of the usual stout traits like roasted malts and chocolates.

That first sip is an unfortunate disappointment. The mouthfeel of this beer is the dominant trait, which is way too chalky and overwhelmingly gritty. It really is a shame because the taste is quite nice. Lots of rich, roasted flavors along with creamy coffee notes, much like a mocha. The aftertaste is really, really lengthy, so be forewarned. If you don't like the taste, you're going to hate this beer because it locks your taste buds in a merciless stranglehold. The mild hop profile also appears at the very end, giving a slight bitter note to the exit.

It should be noted that the best part of this beer is the second half. Once you get used to the mouthfeel, the beer warms into a creamier, smoother version. It's during this time when you get to savor all of those strong espresso flavors. If you find this beer in a restaurant setting, I would recommend letting it sit for a good 10 minutes before diving in.

Overall, the Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout is a pretty good imperial stout. There are certainly better imperial stouts out there, but it still deserves to be recognized. I can recommend this beer to fans of darker brews who enjoy those coffee-like mouthfeels. Novices should probably stay away from this beer because the mouthfeel is just too harsh to get past. You really need to have a honed palate to appreciate it, and even then it might be a bit much. Regardless, the Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout is a tasty brew and I look forward to sampling more of what Japan has to offer.

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Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout by Kiuchi Brewery
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