This week I have a beer from one of Japan’s premiere breweries and another from a NY brewery that just expanded into the Chicagoland area.
First up, one of the many NYC breweries that’s been gathering high praise lately.
SingleCut Beersmiths was founded in 2012 in Queens, New York. Named after a style of guitar, they take a lot of inspiration from music and that really shows in their beer names.
They have a nice distribution across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and have now expanded into the Great Lakes/Midwest regions…starting distribution in and around Chicago a few weeks ago.
I had to grab a 4-pack of their beers as soon as they became available so I picked up their 18-Watt IPA, a session-ish IPA that doesn’t hit hard but has the flavors and kick of a much heavier brew. It was $13 for the four cans, with each pint containing a decent 5% ABV and a solid 82 IBU.
The beer poured a hazy golden straw color with a massive amount of head building up. Over three fingers of dense, airy, off-white foam topped the beer and slowly fizzled its way down.
On the nose, this brew was a bouquet of tropical flavors. Orange, tangerine, mango, pineapple, and melon were just a few of the fruits that made appearances in the smell. It was backed by a bready malt base and had some flaked wheat notes as well.
My first taste started off with a flash of carbonation that then hummed underneath for the entirety of the sip. The beer had a light body and a somewhat watery mouthfeel.
The hops really controlled the beer with the tropical flavors grabbing hold of my taste buds early on. Orange, lemon, and grapefruit were the main attraction, leading the way for most of the sip. Midway through the pineapple cuts in some but just adds a mild tartness to the fruit medley.
As the flavors continue, the brew gains a slightly bitter twinge that slowly creeps forward, stinging my tongue. With the hop bite comes a light pine flavor that never really overpowers the citrus but is still noticeable.
That flaked wheat and malt from the smell isn’t really noticeable in the taste, as the hops steal the show in 18-Watt. But they do add some more sweetness to the brew and attempt keep the bitterness level relatively low…although they start to fail towards the end.
From there, the beer ends crisp and clean. There is a small dryness left but no lingering aftertaste or bitterness.
18-Watt is an easy-drinking beer and my glass was empty before I knew it. The tropical flavors made that bitter bite that creeps up easy to handle and, as it ends super clean, taking sip after sip was the obvious choice.
I can’t wait to try more from these guys…especially now that a few of their brews are available in Illinois.
The next beer I have comes from Japan and marks the first time a brew from the Land of the Rising Sun is featured on BBG.
Kiuchi Brewery began all the way back in 1823 as a sake brewery, located in Naka, Japan. In 1994, when Japan changed their beers laws allowing for more breweries, they decided to start brewing beer as well and, in 1996, Hitachino Nest Beer was born.
Since then, they’ve brewed multiple styles under the name Hitachino, including the version I have for you today – their Hitachino Nest Beer XH.
Nest Beer XH is a Belgian Strong Ale that was brewed with Chinook and Styrian Goldings hops before being aged in distilled sake barrels to give it even more flavor. Each bottle has a big 8% ABV and will cost you more than usual. If you can find it, the 11.2-ounce bottle will run you about $9.
It poured a solid copper color with hints of dark orange peeking through at some spots. Just under three fingers of tannish foam topped the beer. The airy bubbles quickly sunk down into a thin dusting across the top.
XH had an intriguing aroma that wasn’t too strong at all. I was expecting a big, bold smell with lots of booze but, instead, was greeting with a soft and sweeter aroma. Caramel and toffee lead the way with some dark plum and raison undertones. And just a hint of sake poked its way out in the smell.
A small burst of carbonation started off the sip before a massive wave of flavors crashed down on my taste buds.
From there, the beer began with a sweet flavor that featured a heavy dose of caramel and toffee malt. The raisins and dark fruit slowly crept up from there and blended in well with the malts.
The sake was more assertive in the taste of the beer than it was in the smell. It gave off a slightly tart and acidic characteristic that really didn’t pop until the later stages of the sip.
This brew finished rather cleanly, with just a slightly sticky feeling and a dash of lingering acidity with hints of raisin and plum.
Nest Beer XH was surprisingly smooth and easy to drink. The booze didn’t really make too much of an impression during the sip but it was sure noticeable as my glass got lighter and lighter, warming my face and bringing a nice buzz with it.
Overall, this was a very nice Belgian Strong Ale and certainly worth a try. If you’re a fan of Belgians and/or sake, give it a try.