Try it, Taste it, Love it; Hitachino Japanese Beer

South bound after work I slowed spotting the Liquor Store on the opposite side of the street thinking to myself, “Sherbrooke Liquor… oh man they have a tasty selection of beers for a fantastic Friday night.” The left hand tugged on the steering wheel as we eased into the roundabout drifting through its circled lanes and spitting us back out on the North bound side of the street. Right turn signal on as we yielded right, slowed and pulled into the parking lot.

Standing inside the beer cooler there are thousands of labels before you as a flood of admiration sneaks across your face whilst the rest of you shivers in the cold conditions.

How do I choose the next beer?

  • label graphics
  • words on the bottle
  • what it pairs with
  • the style of beer
  • where it was crafted
  • country of origin

Fifteen minutes on I haven’t made a choice because my body is shuffling left than right looking up then down at the towering selection of beers.

Everything is here…

From my favourites IPA, Stout, and Porter to the fruits, pilsner’s and lagers.

What will be the “beer of the week?” for me, for tonight.

The mood in the beer cooler is not Guinness and its not Innis & Gunn. No, its more likely an evening where an Apricot or Raspberry beer may fair well on the patio in this hot summer night.

Finally I’ve decided that tonight I would like something peculiar off the beaten path from a place where I have not been in a long long time. Something in a traditional honour system of history and culture of the craft breweries before me.

My eyes glance over a curious little bottle with an owl glaring back. They are all nestled together one by one on the shelf. Odd. Usually they do not group a breweries single beers together. I grab a bottle of White Ale turning it over and over, reading the front and following it all the way around.

Oh my goodness! Seriously! I have seen this bottle before… but where? Where was it that I saw this bottle? Was it in Japan? No. Was it at a local bar? I don’t think so. Then where? Where have I seen this label before? 

That’s when it hit me as I reached out for another bottle. My first experience with The Nest, was the Japanese Classic Ale. We had a bottle one evening in Spruce Grove at this fantastic little Japanese Izakaya called Sakai Sushi Bar. I recall that night saying to my wife, “Wow! This is surprisingly delicious beer! I wonder where I can get more of this? It’s oishi*!” 

  • *Oishi (美味しい) – translates to delicious or tasty and is the most common word to describe deliciousness in Japanese, Being the most common and simplest term, you’ll often hear this term being used a lot by foreigners (non-native) Japanese speakers. Since it’s a casual way of saying delicious, using it in formal situations is often frowned upon in Japan.

I hesitated all of like 3-seconds then grabbed the Orange Label (since it was the last one on the shelf) “Weizen” then took 2 other bottles: Winter Ale and Japanese Classic Ale.

What does that label say?

Weizen – The German Style Wizen is a cloudy beer brewed with wheat malt, and a fragrant yeast. Please enjoy the banana like flavour and light taste 

Japanese Classic Ale – The Japanese Classic Ale is a recreation of the first Japanese Beer made in the Edo Period. Please enjoy the Japanese taste, aged in cedar barrels like the old IPA style method from England. 

Winter AleThe White Ale is brewed with wheat malt, and flavoured with coriander, orange peel and nutmeg. Please enjoy the soft and flavourful taste.

The town where Hitachino Nest beer, is brewed and bottled has been brewing Sake and Shōchū (Japanese Whiskey) since 1823. Then after a short period of 173-years later in 1996 the Japanese law governing micro-brewing was approved. And with all approvals several craft beers began production in the Prefecture Ibaraki.

Hitachino Nest Beer is brewed and bottled by Kiuchi Brewery in the town of Naka, Japan.

How Does It Taste? 

Each of these beers have a magnificent floral arrangement accompanied by lovely character mix of herbs, hops, and malt. Each beer has its very own distinct flavour unlike anything that I have recently had in the past several months.

Of the three bottles my personal favourite is the Winter Ale for the extra hops and fine touch of coriander and orange peels.

~ James Curtis