By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Brewed: Kounoso, Japan
First established in 1823, it wasn’t until 1996 that the Kiuchi Brewery started to produce Hitachino Nest beer, formerly better known for its sake production. Located in the small Japanese village of Kounosu, the beer’s name is inspired by the Kounosu’s literal meaning – “nest” – and has become hugely acclaimed over the past 20 years for both its beer and the quirky owl logo that adorns every bottle.
Taken from their core range, the Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale has a very interesting flavour profile, one that can be more closely linked with sake than with that of beer. When poured, a cloudy mahogany amber body is topped with a thin white head that’s quick to dissipate, while the aroma is particularly floral, joined by notes of malt, burnt toffee, liquorice and red fruits including strawberry. Onto the taste, the beer is remarkably dry – boasting savours of rice and barley, with a subtle bitterness and some spiciness that both continue into a strong malty finish – showcasing the beer’s high alcohol content for the first time. A very interesting, characteristic beer with a flavour profile that’s especially suited to pairing with umami Asian foods.
Hitachino Nest beer can be purchased from UK importer jamesclay.co.uk.