beer review 2: Kirin Stout

A sip of Kirin's "ichibanshibori" stout is a splash of nostalgia-inducing variety. Japan is a land of light bubbly lagers. Here, beers seem to be designed more to match the cellphone emoticon than to be delicious and refreshing. In fact, there is a strange cultural feedback loop between cellphone graphics and beer that warrants discussion. Certainly beer emoticons were once upon a time modeled after the pre-existent product, but today it seems to work in reverse, or at least in both directions. Beer tends to be straw yellow in color and is always served in a glass, and while we Americans pride ourselves on the headless pours, Japan strives to create large, cartoon-like heads of foam in every mug. I tend to forget this ettiquette and my friends always seem little dissapointed when I turn the glass 45 degrees and proudly produce a tall glass of pale yellow gold with no white foam at the top whatsoever. To understnd this phenomenon, consider that the average Japanese teen is exposed to cellphone emailing and emoticon graphics long before becoming old enough to order a beer (drinking age is 20 here). Consider that all your life you have seen pictures of beer on tv and in email graphics that depict roughly 30% foam and 70% beer. Your first beer damn well better match that perfect mental image, right? It is admittedly a bit of a cultural Chicken-or-the-egg thing, but funny nonetheless.

Well Kirin Stout is out to change all that. At least the pale yellow part of the equation (see image).

The aroma is a bloom of roasted caramel and malts that become appearant upon exhalation, and it features a creamy smooth texture. This beer complements my spaghetti bolognese pretty well, but on the other hand, dark beers don't do much for most Japanese food, which is very light and easily out-competed by stronger beers.

The can claims that just a taste of Kirin's ichibanshibori stout will " enrich my precious time" and i have to agree; these times are quite enriched. It's definitely a nice change of pace from the usual lagar fare. Unfortunately finding even the domestic stout is just about as hard as finding actual Guinness (maybe 1/5 grocery stores). Anyway, 4/5 solid oishii!

American equivalent:


UtB said...

Mm, we will have to have ourselves a good stout upon your return. I don't understand what's so great about drinking a ton of foam, but alas, there are many things I don't how Clark is over forever in a week. Ah!

Cheers, mate --

Mike said...

who dat be commenting on da blog? who dat?

Brandon The Unqualified Critic said...

The rule in America, if you're a beer drinker and not a Bud Light Lime douchebag, is a head of 1-2 fingers thick. Boston is a beer city so their drinking establishments remain true to this principle for the most part, and I assume most of the civilized parts of our country follow suit. It does vary according to the beer quality and type though. I'm sure you'd need a pretty absurd pour to get a monster Japanese head (Godzilla head, perhaps?) on one of their typical watery lagers.

You're trying to get as much fragrance as possible out of the beer with a well formed foam, but it shouldn't be so thick it interferes with the first couple of sips.

Keep up the reviews. I have access to some of these beers at a sweet liquor store, so maybe I'll try to keep up and see if I agree with your thoughts.

Jonathan said...

I love your new layout! I didn't used to be much of a beer drinker but Japanese brands have really grown on me.