Review of a Dry Japans Kirin Ichiban a Dry Asian Lager
There’s a trend among the world’s brewers to license the making of their beers to breweries well outside their country of origin. This makes a certain level of sense when you think about it. After all, why pay to ship your beer all the way from Europe to north American when you can just hire some brewery in Chicago or wherever to make it for you and ship it from there? Some Asian breweries such as Kirin are employing the same tactic, employing breweries in the USA and Canada rather than shipping them all the way across the Pacific ocean.
Kirin’s website makes a big issue of how their beer is made using a process they refer to as the “First Press.” Not sure what that is, but there’s a good chance it’s not much more than a process of clever marketing. You know, like beer being “Cold Filtered,” or “Beech wood aged.” According to their website the First Press process amounts to them using the first run of liquid taken from the mashing process.
Kirin asserts that by taking only this “First Press” they achieve a superior beer with better flavors and a smoother body. Frankly, that’s debatable. In this author’s opinion any well crafted recipe with well chosen ingredients will produce a smooth, flavourful lager. Well, at any rate maybe we should get down to trying this beer and seeing how it stacks up.
Grabbing my favorite glass from the cupboard, the bottle gets opened and poured. Kirin is a pale, straw colored lager. Crystal clear with decent carbonation, on point with most American lagers. Head is meringue-like, bone white, and actually lasting. Well, so far so good.
Holding the glass up to my nose, it’s time for that first sniff. At first blush, Kirin’s nose is fairly straightforward. Aroma starts off grainy, moving into a dry center smelling vaguely of rice. Finish is just a little bit grassy. Unfortunately, that’s about all there is. Grainy, ricey, grassy.
Kirin is about as light in body as you would expect. For the briefest moment there seemed to be a hit of sweetness in the foreground but that was forced quickly into submission. As the beer moves into its center, its flavor becomes bracingly, aridly dry, nearly drying your mouth out. No real flavor to speak of here until Kirin’s grassy notes come out again in the finish. As with the nose, Kirin’s flavor is straightforward and linear. Dry, dry, and more dry.
Kirin Ichiban is barely worth a 4.75 out of 10. It’s not much more than an exercise in dryness. Some of that could be forgiven If there was anything beer flavoured in this bottle, but it’s not much more than carbonated, alcoholic, rice flavoured beverage. Treat yourself to a mainstream American lager and leave this one alone.