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Kirin Ichiban | Kirin Brewery Company, Limited

581 Reviews
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Kirin IchibanKirin Ichiban

Brewed by:
Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
Japan | website

Style: American Pale Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Kirin Ichiban is one of the world's most unique premium beers. The Ichiban shibori process uses only the most flavorful portion of the finest ingredients.

100% Malt.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-16-2001

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Reviews: 581 | Ratings: 1,717
Photo of russpowell
2.38/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

There are surely worse beers out there, but my taste buds expect more out of a lager, but went out for sushi and it was this or bud..

Poured a straw-like color with a bubbly white head that held up well. Some lacing

Smell: Malty/fruitty and a trace of floral hops

Taste: Sweetness with not pleasant pricklyness on the tounge, some bitterness in the finish.

MF: A lot more malt please, thin & gassy

Taste: Shouldn't have ordered a 22 oz bottle the free water was going down better. Next time i'll get the sushi to go over chance the sapporro (sp?) or Asai, can't be any worse...

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Photo of mothman
2.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Well, the color is a light clear yellow. Head doesn't last long. Little lacing. Smell and taste is of rice and grain. Where are the hops and malts? I guess beer from across the country is way different than ours.

Mouthfeel is very clean and crisp.

Overall, nothing I would ever recommend or buy again. Very light beer, I'd rather spend money on an American marco.

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Photo of dbrauneis
2.71/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a bottle at Tonic (Hilton Beijing) in Beijing, China

A: Pours a crystal clear medium golden yellow in color with moderate to heavy amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a half finger tall bright white head that quickly reduces to a thin film covering the entire surface of the beer and a slightly thicker ring around the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of grainy malts with just the slightest hint of rice.

T: Similar to the smell, the taste has light to moderate flavors of grainy and cracker malts with very light hints of rice. There is a pleasant light bitterness to the beer in the finish which does not linger.

M: Light bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly thin/watery with a light amount of dryness in the finish.

O: This beer is easy to drink and a little more malty than I had expected considering the style and lightness of the beer. Not a bad flavor but nothing that really stands out - traditional offering at many Japanese restaurants so I will eventually have it again but not a beer I would seek out.

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Photo of smcolw
2.85/5  rDev +8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Mild head which dies to literally nothing; clear gold color.

Grainy and grassy; more as there is no hop aroma. Can you say lawnmower?

The taste offers a slight improvement--there's a minimal amount of hop present, particularly in the swallow. Also, for a "rice" brew, this has a surprising solid body. It also has a very high carbonation level, giving the mouthfeel a definitive spritziness. Thin malt flavor. Overall, a step above the traditional macros...barely.

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Photo of jwc215
2.12/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours straw yellow with a thick white head with an impressive retention.

The smell is of grain and husk. Something akin to cooked veggies mixes in.

The taste is of sweet grain and a growing husk flavor - more like an American macro than a Japanese rice beer. Hops are overwhelmed with adjuncts and bland malt. It's not very clean.

This says "full-bodied"... Are they kidding? It has something of a body I suppose, but fits into the "light and fizzy" category pretty well.

Whatever...It's a macro-like beer that is hurt by an unusual astringency. Why bother with this one...

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Photo of Huhzubendah
2.42/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

On draft at Asia Cafe in D.C.

A: The beer is very effervescent and light yellow in color. Atop fthe beer sits a white head approximately a half inch thick.

S: The aroma is very faint, but has the general scent of a macro lager. Not much to report.

T: About what you would expect from a macro lager. The flavor is simple and straightforward. The beer has an aftertaste that is slightly bitter and mildly astringent.

M: Light in body with plenty of carbonation. Decent feel for the style, but nothing too impressive.

D: An OK beer to pair with various Asian cuisine, but not something worth drinking by itself.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
2.23/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

"Brewed under the strict supervision of Kirin's brewmaster by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Los Angeles, CA" 24 0z. can, with the mythological Japanese deer/dragon beast striding diagonally up the aluminum container.
Color, a transparent bright yellow, with a prodigous, fluffy, bone white head, that hastily, noisily crumbles.(Perhaps the head size was helped by the enormous Weihenstephaner glass I poured it into?)
Aroma: rather dull and dry, and perfectly in step with a typical cheap lager smell, and am I smelling the rice? Is there rice? Taste will tell...
Very smooth on the palate, to a fault, to the point that it's existence barely registers or makes any impact upon the senses at all. Body is so light light that it rings hollow at every turn. There's is a decent texture, I admit, a nice grit and play on the tongue and lips, that makes it a far more bearable beer than many ordinary lagers, but...I can't at all detect the "complex character of one of the world's premium beers." You've got to have a narrow definition of "beer", and "premium"...and "world"...
Drinkability? Yeah, you can drink them, if you've got nothing better to do, nothing better to drink, and a mean streak of masochism...

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Photo of woodychandler
3.17/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sunday morning and I'm in the CAN.

24 Fl Oz., to be precise. My pour produced two fingers of rocky, bone-white head. The nose had a very characteristic lager sweetness to it. Color was a pale lemon-yellow with NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium with a mostly lager-like sweetness on the tongue, although like a previous reviewer, I did catch a light smokiness. I wonder what drives that? Lots of carbonation evident in terms of bubbles. Say, whatever happened to "Bubbles" McGough, a high school classmate of mine? Prosit, Bubs, wherever you may be! Finish was slightly sweet, nothing terrible, but not great, either. For the $, it was decent. Taking into consideration the portability of the packaging plus the size, it was a bargain.

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Photo of tdm168
2.32/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A - bright yellow; big, white, dense, foamy head; decent retention

S - very grainy, faintly grassy, a hint of lemon

T - very grainy, metallic, lemon, faint grass, very bitter finish, warm

M - crisp, thin, very light, smooth

This is a hrash beer. The metallic, bitter, warm off flavors are immensely off putting. There really isn't anything good to report here. Even the drinkability is slowed by the off flavors despite its light, smooth mouthfeel. I'll avoid this in the future.

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Photo of drabmuh
2.27/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Its CANtastic, sorry woody. I was at a sushi restaurant with my wife wiggle tonight and I was drinking this beer and realized that I just like beer. Its the texture maybe that I like but even when drinking a shitty macro knock off adjunct clear lager like this, I love beer. Sure I could go home and drink a 5 year old Cantillon Kriek, but would that pair well with raw fish and sticky rice? Maybe not. There is so much rice in the dinner and in the beer, they are like the yin and yang of this culture. I doubt many Japanese are pleased with this beer but who cares. I'm home now and drinking homebrewed IPA and loving it. Off to the review, as if even I care.

I had 1 pint 8 ounces of this beer served to me in a shaker pint out of a rather ornamental can (tall boy). Beer is yellow and clear with high carbonation and a head of medium and small bubbles that will eventually break leaving no lacing on the glass. This what a 6 year old that watches too much TV would draw if asked to draw "beer"...looks like beer to me.

Aroma is weak and has this biting grainy edge to it. Hmmm....

Beer is medium to light in body, actually has more body to it than I expected. Interesting. I've had a lot of cheap lagers and I can say without hyperbole that this is the bottom of the barrel. Its acrid and harsh without an aftertaste but the dry finish reveals this horrible bitterness from what I can only assume is rice and corn. Its not a drain pour kind of accident but its about there. I doubt I will venture into the Kirin world again.

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Photo of Mora2000
2.8/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

The beer pours a straw yellow color with a white head. The aroma is rice, corn and some grassy hops. The flavor is very sweet. I get a lot of grass along with some corn and bready malts. Thin mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Not as bad as expected but not something I care to try again.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.5/5  rDev +32.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured a golden orange with yellow highlights with a finger of head that left good sticky lacing on the glass.

S: I did rice aromas after the first whiff that also had various grain notes alongside slight citrus and wheat malt notes; pretty simple nose on this one.

T: the malts and rice flavors dominate the palate with citrus and grain accents. There is a slight booze character as well.

M: the brew was light in body with a good amount of prickly carbonation tha had a grainy crisp refreshing finish.

D: very drinkable beer that was really good paired with sushi and teppan grill chicken and shrimp.

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Photo of tempest
3.38/5  rDev +28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ordered a bottle with sushi and soup at the Japanese place at DTW airport. This beer masters the style just like Bud Light and the American light lager. This isn't a delicious beer in the grand scheme of thing, but for a Japanese rice lager, it's quite nice. Unfortunately, right off the bat this beer has an odd rubber aroma, but that quickly fades to leave a very clean beer. The malt has a subtle toasted bread flavor and there's a hint of spicy hops. Very drinkable and worth a try next time you sit down for sushi.

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Photo of DoubleJ
1.86/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Beer testing, one, two...alright, let's give this beer a ride:

Straw yellow in color with carbonation bubbles racing through the body. It's topped by a lackluster head. Smell is conducted by some skunk and corn husk. There's plenty of rice is this brew, in fact, it's quite cloying. The flavor is very neutral and bland, but it does deliever a snappy feel on the tongue, with some dirt in the aftertaste.

Kirin Ichiban is the term Nabihci Nirik spelled backwards. It might as well be, cause this beer is no good and tough to consume.

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Photo of Tone
2.9/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear, pale yellow. 1/2 inch head with slight lacing and slight retention. Smells of the cleanliness of a lager. Fits the style. Has a smooth and crisp mouth feel. There was an average carbonation level. Tastes mostly of a clean lager. A little more body and less adjunct flavor than Budweiser type products. Overall, not bad compared to adjunct lagers, but otherwise not that great.

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Photo of Wasatch
2.5/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a yellow color, nice carbonation, little one-finger white head had that does not last long, basically no sticky lacing. The nose is malty, ricy, grainy. The taste is malty, ricy/grainy, slightly sweet. Light body. Not drinkable, not too bad, but would not buy again.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.28/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle picked up at Brewforia over the weekend... ehhh... I had to tick this style at some point.

My first beer of the night.. poured into my small Grolsch goblet... 1" stark white head... very clear golden brew.

Nose is pale malts with a twist of lemon zest.. nothing really going on here..

Flavor has watery pale malts... slight spicy malts and again something that I can only describe as lemon..

Body is light... carbonation is pretty high... For the style, this is pretty much what I expect... High Praise is it is not skunky and is pretty refreshing while I water misc. flower pots around the backyard... refreshing on a hot spring night.

Will I ever buy this again, NO.... I would rather have iced tea... but really... what do you want?


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Photo of BlackHaddock
2.95/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My 330ml bottle was brewed under licence by Wells and Youngs of Bedford, England: best before 8 July 2012 it was poured (twice) into a 'Veltins' badged pilsner stemmed tulip on 14 Feb 2012.

Looks like a regular lager: golden, clear and bright, mid depth of goldness. The head a mass of white bubbles, then fading to a wispy covering and a collar.

Slight hop aroma, some hints of cereals maybe as well.

Crisp, dry and boring were my first three thoughts as the beer entered my mouth. Strangely for a lager as the mouth began to dry after each sip the palate seemed to get sweeter instead of the normal slightly bitter, sometimes metallic hit.

I suspect my beer (brewed in the UK) tastes very different to the US version. So my review will not be a lot of good to most BA users, but hey ho, it might interest one or two who read it.

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Photo of Zorro
2.26/5  rDev -14.4%
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

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Photo of biegaman
3.33/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't mean to sound racist, but all these Asian beers look alike to me. Yellow, filtered, steady bubbles and a head that appears eternally in a state of near-total collapse. Kirin Ichiban does, however, looks a little cloudier than most; its chill haze doesn't damper any of the glimmer but it does make my fingers appear fuzzy on the other side of the glass.

Anyone who bought this beer with the intention of tasting something exotic or unusual is bound to get a rude awakening in the aroma. No exotic impressions of Japan here. I had expected the crude, cheap, commercial stench of American industry, but I too was surprisingly mistaken in my assumptions. This actually smells... good?! Really good.

And indeed it tastes that way too. The maltiness is crisp and toasty, like you'd find in a quality American lager or traditional German pilsner, and has a slight biscuity profile. The finish is complimented by a very perceivable hop presence, a subtly pithy and earthy bitterness that puts the exclamation mark on what is a flavourful and quenching lager.

I initially sighed at the fact that I had to fork out the money for a full 650ml to review this. Now, I couldn't be happier that I did. And I'd do it again! This is an enjoyably, easily drinkable lager that has just the right amount of sweet, grainy flavour and brisk, enhancing carbonation. Best of all: I'm not tasting anything that isn't supposed to be in there.

Pale lager is not a style that I (nor most people) have a tough time appreciating, that is if it's done right. There are a few brands of pale lager that comprise some of my favourite, most frequently drank beers, but they resemble nothing like the diluted, corrupted, bastardized examples that most Asian breweries put out. Kirin Ichiban, on the other hand, as much as it surprises me to admit, actually does. Don't assume too much about this one...

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
1.76/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A: This beer pours straw-coloured with a pretty impressing white head that stays for some time and then leaves nice lacings.

S: Not a strong smell, but there is malt, some sweetness and some fruit.

T: Not a strong taste either, just some rough, funky malt (unbalanced).

M: The aftertaste is very short in this thin beer with lots of carbonation.

D: Not my cup of tea, a very anonymous beer with little aroma and taste.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours golden with a head that fades quickly to a thin swirl on top but leaves some slight lacing. Smells clean, light, slight minerally and with a noticeable smell of rice. fresh smelling as well. I think the can makes a difference in stopping the skunking of this beer. The taste is similar. Slight yeastiness, some light pleasant rice flavors, clean and fresh tasting with a light bitterness on the finish. Smooth and somewhat crisp. I was looking for a lawnmower beer and this fit the bill. Not bad for what it is, but obviously not the end all be all either.

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Photo of plaid75
3.23/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a light straw hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retenion and lacing.

The smell featured clean grain and rice aromas with a subtle flowery hop.

The taste was balanced and clean. Light rice body with a decent hop element.

The mouthfeel was clean and crisp.

Overall a nice beer to accompany sushi. Nothing really exciting though.

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Photo of flagmantho
2.98/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 24oz can into a pint glass. Apparently the Kirin Ichiban you buy in the US is brewed by Anheuser-Busch in Los Angeles, at least according to this can.

Appearance: light golden-yellow hue with two fingers of somewhat rapidly dissipating white foam head. Fits well enough to the style.

Smell: very light sweet malt with a bit of grain and a touch of some kind of sour/skunk aroma. It's in a can, so it's not light-struck; it must just be that way. Ehhh.

Taste: very light, very plain. Malt is sweet and there are hints of earthy, maybe noble hops. Still, the hints of off-aroma aren't present in the flavor. It's simple and clean, if boring.

Mouthfeel: light body with a pretty decent level of carbonation. Pretty watery, but I like fizziness; so this is, surprisingly, not too bad.

Drinkability: though it is a very low-flavor beer, it's pretty light and refreshing. For me, this is filling the bill right now.

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Photo of HopHead84
2.86/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5


Bottle at Pei Wei poured into a pint glass.

A: Pale yellow and perfectly translucent with a small white head.

S: Apple with some rice and corn. Simple and inoffensive. I get a light sweetness and a little biscuit.

T: Rice with biscuit and a little apple. Not much else to report. Simple. There's a little sulfur in there and there's a corny sweetness.

M: Light in body with high carbonation.

Overall: An insipid lager but not a bad one.

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Kirin Ichiban from Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
63 out of 100 based on 581 ratings.