Kirin Ichiban - Kirin Brewery Company, Limited

Not Rated.
Kirin IchibanKirin Ichiban

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550 Reviews

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Reviews: 550
Hads: 1,573
rAvg: 2.63
pDev: 22.43%
Wants: 10
Gots: 230 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Kirin Brewery Company, Limited visit their website

Style | ABV
American Pale Lager |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-16-2001

Confirmed that this beer is "all malt" as of Oct. 2010.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 550 | Hads: 1,573
Photo of tjd25
2.87/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The head’s foamy and quite irregular. The body is of a still transparent yellow color. Some surprizing smoked notes in the smell, which is mostly citric and grainy. The taste is pretty basic. Kind of watery, some fruitiness and citrus, but not much going on. Low carbonation too. Grassy hoppiness. Mouthfeel is round but very weak. Not more than average. (355 characters)

Photo of aracauna
1.8/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This is not good. It’s a dull pale gold with a wisp of head. It’s got the bottling date on the bottle (brewed by Anheuser Busch for Kirin) and it’s fresh, but it’s still a little skunky. The flavor has a little straw malt, but also has something that’s making me think of bile. (282 characters)

Photo of jvajda
1.9/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Had a few of these on the plane to Tokyo. When in Rome, right? Apparently.. not really.

Smell: Like a Bud or some other swill. Smelled a little old.
Taste: Like no other beer I've ever had, but not very good. The best way to describe this is a sweatened up Bud. There were slight hints of ginger and Asian spices. Very unique, but not my bag.
Mouthfeel: Nothing special.
Drinkability: After a couple of these, prepare for some major gas. Not something to drink in a social setting (or on a 15 hour plane ride, yikes!).

Ichiban means number one in English, but this certainly is not Japan's best. Try a Sapporo instead. (629 characters)

Photo of oelergud
2.61/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pale golden very clear brew with lots of carbonation, off white head with large bubbles among smaller ones, decent retention and good lace.
Very faint in the nose, some grass and hay but very faint. Some spiced alcohol but you really got to look for it to notice.
Taste is similar to smell but the grass presence is much stronger, decent hop/malt balance. Almost lacking any kind of aftertaste save for a weak hop flavor.
Medium fullness of body, leave a thin coat in your mouth.
Overall an ok beer, probably not something I'll buy again but it was drinkable.

-Oelergud (576 characters)

Photo of NJpadreFan
2.05/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

bleeech, Kirin Ichiban is the Schlitz of Japan.

It poured a light yellow with no head at all.
The smell was very sweet. I detect corn, sugar, maybe rice and lemon.
Taste was lemony, sugary sweet and watery.

Overall, this isn't a beer. It went ok with the chinese food I was eating but I wouldn't choose this otherwise. (326 characters)

Photo of Bierguy5
2.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden liquid with a white foamy head. The head disappeared very quickly. There was no lacing on the glass at all. Not much of a smell. Mostly, that macro smell, kind of like corn and rice. The taste was a bit sweet, not much bitterness at all. It did taste a bit dry in the finish. Pretty average on the mouthfeel, thin that is. It was fairly drinkable, but I am not sure why you would want to. (403 characters)

Photo of RoyalT
3.33/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – Light yellow in color and a bit of carbonation to the body. The head actually came up nicely, showed some good retention, and left a very pretty lacing on the inside of my glass.

Smell – Light grain in the nose with a touch of floral hopping and a bit of sweetness.

Taste – The sweets really come out at the taste. Thankfully, they aren’t the “gag sugars” that usually send me heaving towards the toilet. Mind you, this is not a “good” lager by any means, but there is a bit of hops to this one which is better than most examples of the style.

Mouthfeel – Not bad. It’s light-bodied, of course, but the carbonation plays well with the taste and this one is even a touch on the dry side.

Drinkability – I’ve found that I seem to appreciate Japanese beers a little better than most on the site. Again, I wouldn’t call this one a “winner”, but I think it’s much more drinkable than the 2.45 average that it has on the site. (961 characters)

Photo of Zorro
2.26/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a light golden brew. It LOOKS OK!

Almost smell free. Not a good sign of a tasty brew.

Tastes sweetish and grainy. Slight lemon and hops flavors. Mostly it's a sweet Lager.

Mouthfeel is Budweiser, That sums it up.

Drinkable, But I would find a Sapparo (268 characters)

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.3/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - light golden color, a bit darker than the Kirin Lager. Slightly better, but next to no visible carbonation. Course that could just be my always perfectly clean glasses....mmmm, no. Weak, white head, unimpressive.

Aroma - some malt aromas initially, a touch of earthiness. Fades to a very faint malt nose, kind of disappointing.

Taste - solid flavor. Don't know that I'd rate it higher than the Kirin Lager, but it's good. Decent malt, lots of bubbles after all, even a bit of fruitiness and a very faint spice presence of some kind. Maybe it's just the hops, not sure.

Mouthfeel - crisp, but solid feeling as well. Very good.

Drinkability - Another fine session beer from Kirin. What I thought, however, was gonna be an evening of sampling a few Japanese beers turned out, in fact, to be a sampling of beers brewed by a Kirin brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch in California. <sigh> Whatever, it's good. (928 characters)

Photo of donnebaby
3.29/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It's the rare occasion it seems when I drink this beer. I usually wind up drinking Sapporo or Asahi at establishments near Sapporo, here in Japan. It is actually quite different from either! I'm surprised.

The appearance is kinda lame, ordinary, but has a pretty nice sticky cobweb lacing. The taste is cool, distinctly grainy. It's neither strong in hops nor malt...just grain--which I actually like. A little sweet, going with the Japanese taste (my opinion), but too heavy for major drinking bouts. It definitely deserves the title "beer" though, so I'm glad it's sold as such. (583 characters)

Photo of Globetrotter
1.7/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Brewed for Kirin by Charles Wells, Ltd., Bedford, UK. Why bother? Brown tapered 33 cl bottle sporting a label dominated what is presumably some legendary Japanese dragon. Whatever. Rice and corn are listed as ingredients. Best before 5/31/04, I opened it on 1/25/04.

Pours a bubbly clear yellow gold under a very small, thin and short-lived white head. The nose is lemonade sweet, with a touch of musty corn. The mouth is heavy like wet blankets and quite prickly. The taste is pretty darn bad - sweet corn starch and old socks, followed by boiled rice and moth-eaten sweaters. No hops, no bite, no benefit. Yuck. (616 characters)

Photo of theozag
3.08/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first introduction to Japanese beer was a pint of Asahi in a run-down hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Kyoto. I'm glad to say that that fairly poor introduction did not exclude me from Japanese brews all together. Despite this beer's low ratings here on the Advocate, I rather enjoyed it. To wit:

Ichiban pours a flat yellow and tumbles (something like a stout, actually) to a gold body with a white head that quickly fades from the glass. It's smell is dry and sweet, with some suggestion of good hops breeding and bitterness. Ichiban starts clean, crisp, and bitter and immediately makes its medium body apparent. It settles into the tongue with a kind, gently sweet flavor that carries a constant hop note and somewhat fruity or citrusy tastes. The brew ends thicker than it starts with a bit of a caramel flavor left over in your mouth. Ichiban's aftertaste is rather relaxing to the drinker, and carries all the best parts of the beer.

Overall, I thought Kirin Ichiban was a tasty, easy-to-drink, medium-bodied import. Needless to say, i found it to be much better than Asahi. If ever I need a decidedly foreign premium beer again, I'll gladly choose Ichiban. (1,171 characters)

Photo of Jarod
2.14/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Special Premium Reserve
Bottle on date: 14 OCT 03

This beer poured a light yellow color that was crystal clear and well carbonated. It produced a pure white head that lasted only a short time then fell to nothing but a ring on the edges of the glass. The ring produced ring like lace on the sides about half way down the glass. The aromas that came from the glass were of some hops, allot of vegetable matter, some citrus seemed to be present and a light pepper spice was also present on a few whiffs. Over all impression of the aroma was very light and hard to detect at times. Which is a good thing because the vegetable smell seemed to overpower the other aromas making it unpleasant. I hoped that the flavors were better. The tastes were kind of corn grain/husky, some malt seemed to be present, but well masked, a light bitter hop, and yeasty bread near the end of the swallow. The aftertaste was dominated by the bread. Light bodied. Over all impression of the flavors, well they were better then the aromas. Not particularly fond of all the cornhusk flavors that were present. This beer reminded me of an Anheuser-Busch product, and low and behold I read on the label that it is brewed under their strict supervision. Next bottle I believe I will pass, not worth the flavors and aromas that I experienced. Not the worst, but near the bottom. (1,352 characters)

Photo of crookedhalo
2.5/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Fluted draft glass 24 oz. at buddies Japanese steakhouse. The hibachi surf & turf was awesome. Ichiban, the best I can guess means "the best", maybe like Cuvee or Grand Cru... Looks just like any other lager, maybe a touch more gold than your average macrodomestic light. No head really to speak of, lower carbonation, too. Sweeter malt and subtle hop finish made this beer somewhat enjoyable. My friend, who doesn't venture much beyond Chardonnay said it tasted like C**rs Light. How dare she blasphemize such a beer? Trust me, much better then [insert random swill beer here]. It has a natural taste to it. It tastes like beer, just not really altogether good. (662 characters)

Photo of TastyTaste
2.08/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

They served it to me in a pilsener glass which was frosted (I waited 'till the glass warmed up to room temp). It was a clear gold color on the pour, with a big white head. Smells of malt and grain. That is also what it tasted like. Lots of malt, not enough balance. A very sub par beer. (286 characters)

Photo of Boilermaker88
2.98/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ran into a buddy from my Marine Corps days and we got to talking about our time overseas, mainly Japan. That led to further talk about great Japanese and Okinawan places to eat. In due course the discussion got to beer and the various beers we had while deploying to places like Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Australia. I decided to round up some beers from the Far East and try them out again.
Kirin Ichiban came in a 22oz. brown bomber and poured a clear golden hue. Despite a decent amount of carbonation, only a small white head formed and that quickly faded down to a ring in the glass. The smell was of grassy malts and faintly sour. Some light citrus was also noted. The taste was grainy with a lightly bittered finish. The feel was light, crisp and refreshing.
By itself, Kirin Ichiban is nothing to get excited about. In fact, it’s a barely average beer. Paired with sushi or Okinawan soba and it’s found its niche. (929 characters)

Photo of TerryW
2.23/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Golden colour with a moderate white head. The head settled quickly, but managed to leave some decent lace.

Smells of grain, tastes of grain with only a vague suggestion of hops in the end. Crisp and clean on the palate. Pretty plain stuff.

I had to salvage something out of this experience so here's the Japanese word for boring:

unzari (345 characters)

Photo of ManekiNeko
2.46/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bottle served chilled.

Appearance: Light straw color with a short lived white head. Leaves little rings on the glass.

Smell: Light grainy smell and a whole lotta banana esters. Hints of some herbs and pepper. Not much on the aromatic front.

TasteL Very light grainy, ricey flavor. Grassy aftertaste. Banana esters all throughout. Not an überflavorful beer, either.

Mouthfeel: Very light in body, no lasting aftertaste.

Drinkability: I only drink this when having sushi. Otherwise, why bother? That said, I still think it pairs well with the cuisine, IMHO. Well, it doesn't compete with it, in any case. I'm still waiting on the sushi bar with a kickass beer selection. (692 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.46/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I was really hoping for more from this beer that advertises its "special single-press process" - whatever that is!
It pours a crystal clear golden body topped by a full and foamy bright white head that holds very well before dropping to a razor thin surface covering. It leaves next to no lace about the glass. The carbonation is quite fine, leaving thin steady streams of tiny bubbles rising steadily to the surface. Very nice appearance! The nose is limited to a "generic" beer aroma with some lightly grainy malt; low-level, undiscernable hops; some lager-fermentation sulphur; and a thin thread of alcohol. The body is light/medium with a gentle carbonation that's crisp in the mouth. The flavor delivers a clean and straight-forward grainy malt that's delicately touched by hop flavor but backed by a firm bitterness. A mild note of apple or dried golden fruit (pear, perhaps?) adds a hint of character to it. It finishes short and dry with a light note of residual malt and sublime hop bitteress. Refreshing! (1,016 characters)

Photo of RockyTopHeel
3.6/5  rDev +36.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ichiban is a light, straw-colored offering (though that could be a little off--it was awfully dark in the restaurant) with a light scent and refreshing, crisp flavor. The beer was rather bubbly, but very drinkable and enjoyable with a slightly bitter finish. I noticed somewhat of a deterioration in taste as the beer warmed to room temperature, so try it very cold.

Not a whole lot of complexity to this brew, but it was a very hot day, so my taste buds appreciated the refreshment provided by it. If I wanted a real taste experience, I'd head elsewhere, but Ichiban wasn't bad as a cool accompaniment to an excellent Chinese dinner.

Note: More than half a decade later, this review is kind of embarrassing. But it's where I was as a fledgling beer drinker, so I'll keep it for historic purposes. (799 characters)

Photo of Beastdog75
1.91/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Kirin Ichiban is supposed to be the "Michelob" of the Kirin line, but instead of tasting like a premium version of their regular lager, this tastes like a very cheaply made euro-lager. While drinking this I noted quite a few similarities to Grolsch and other similar beers. For a premium import, this was disappointing (even though my expectations weren't that high).

Kirin Ichiban pours a yellow straw color with a 1 finger foam that disappears in under 30 seconds. The beer smells VERY cheap, not unlike the aforementioned macro-Euros. Husky/musty/soapy euro-lager smell, with some light fruitiness. Light skunk even with the brown bottle (I think they brewed it to smell this way). The mouthfeel is thin and over-fizzy. This even tastes like a macro-Euro, with some grainy adjunct flavors, hay like flavor, soapiness. Somewhat bitter in the finish. A very light hop fruitiness is somewhat detectable. The aftertaste is kind of dry with continuing cheap grain flavor and some green apple. The beer ends with very little alcoholic warmth.

Not a pleasing beer by any means. I've had worse, but for a premium-import price the beer shouldn't taste this cheap. Those who like the flavor of Grolsch/Heineken might want to give this a try, but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone else. (1,286 characters)

Photo of beerguy101
2.72/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Gold color, small white head. Aroma is grainy, fruity and sweet. Light and crisp taste. Good flavor. Good balance of hops and malts. Simple clean taste. Some hoppyness and slight tingle on tongue. Finish is crisp and clean. Aftertaste is slightly bitter. (254 characters)

Photo of SetarconeX
1.85/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Something is definately wrong with this beer. Poured it out of its can, into a glass...and the color was....I guess it's kinda gold, with an eye This doesn't instill confidence. Figured it was one of those "mythical Japanese creature" things (Yea, I know it's brewed in L.A.). Gave it a sniff, and it smells a doctor prescribed it for a heinous infection. Took a sip. Tastes like it could give me a heinous infection. I'm not really sure this is beer. In fact, I'd be prepared to just label it a by-product of a hollywood face-lift lab. Simply a nasty, foul smelling brew. (590 characters)

Photo of ADR
2.23/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pale lightish yellow with a short lsting macro head of about 15 seconds of gas. No real lace generation. The smells are understated and vaquely vegetal overall, similar to Miller High Life. Flavor is thin, straight sucrose malt countered by an aggressive carbonation and a drying but lighly metallic hop. Vapor-like mouthfeel. Not a lot here, not a disagreeable aftertaste but I can't see choosing this over others in ordinary Lager category. (442 characters)

Photo of ngandhi
1.15/5  rDev -56.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1


This is not a Japanese beer. I know, you're in the beer aisle and you want to try something new. You see Kirin Ichiban -- the foreign name, the dragon on the bottle, the medium price -- and wonder how you've not seen this "premium" beer before. And what's this? Something about "first cold press"? Could this be akin to Anchor Steam? Perhaps it's an ancient method of brewing brought back from the dead. So enticing . . .

Read the fine print: this stuff is bottled by Busch in L.A. I didn't see it until I got home. Even with true imports you have you be careful (e.g. Tusker, Taj Mahal), but when a beer pretends to be something it's not, throw it out.

It pours a straw haze with a thick head that calls on you to sniff. If you do, you'll notice intense aromas of rice, corn, rotten sprouts, rotten everything. This is Budwesier taken to a whole other level of skunk. As there is a Bud Light, Kirin Ichiban is a Bud Extreme that I doubt even the most loyal of Bud drinkers could tolerate.

Silly me. My girlfriend wanted to try 3Floyds Robert the Bruce Scottish, but I suggested this because I was drinking so much 3Floyds at the time and wanted something new. Listen to your women, they know what's good for you.

I actually finished one bottle. The finish is VERY long and miserable with this beer. That crap just sits on your tongue. I couldn't rinse it out with water and you will NEVER forget the smell. I couldn't drink for a week after this.

This beer is worse than Coors, worse than Natty, worse than Bud because at least those other wastes of time don't decieve you and do try their best to mellow the artificiality of their flavor. For some reason, Kirin Ichiban takes pride in producing faux-Japanese asparagus-urine beer.

This is the worst beer of all time.

Also try: car exhaust, used cigarette filter extract, castor oil

Relax, relax, enjoy.
ng (1,897 characters)

Kirin Ichiban from Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
63 out of 100 based on 550 ratings.