Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale - Kiuchi Brewery

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Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic AleHitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

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very good

390 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 390
Reviews: 239
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 11.87%
Wants: 11
Gots: 13 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Kiuchi Brewery visit their website

Style | ABV
English India Pale Ale (IPA) |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Todd on 08-06-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 390 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Brad007
4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice amber hue with a two-finger head into my fluted glass that leaves some lacing on the edges.

Aroma is full of floral hops with a hint of malt underneath. Very nice aroma here that seems fit for the style.

Taste is full of grassy hops with a hint of sweet, biscuity malt underneath that gives a bit of balance to this beer.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering biscuit malt and grassy hop flavors. Carbonation feels right. Beer goes down really well with no harsh aftertaste.

Very nice example of the style that gets a Japanese take. This is actually more drinkable than a few other examples I've had. Well done.

Photo of Nesued
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle

Appearance - Hazy orange/amber with a big off-white had that formed upon pour. Resolved to little to no head. Hard to pick up the level of carbonation, but it did take a while for the head to fade.

Smell - Open the Hitachino cedar chest! Nice cedar nose which deadens much of any other aromas. A bit of the malt sweetness is noticable, but it is lost in the cedar overarching nose.

Taste - The cedar aging comes through exceedingly so in this Hitachino offering, to the point of overpowering much of the malt and even hop presence. There is a nice hop finish, but it's subtle. I found the cedar overdone.

Mouthfeel - Light mouthfeel, when compared to other offerings in the style, this appears to be about average. Nothing really special. I bit thin on the finish.

Drinkability - This is my third Hitachino offering. All have been very unique beers and well-worth trying.

Photo of brownbeer
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 vintage opened on 10-4-09

A- Nearly gushed. Poured sunset auburn with a generous, creamy head and solid retention.

S- Oaky with typical aromas that go with that; cherry, vanilla. There's and underlying almost vegetal feel to it that i'm not crazy about but it does have depth.

T- Matured fruity flavors, a big hit of vanilla, with a sherry-like oxidation. Improves alot as it warms.

M- A lot of carbonation right off the bat. So I let it sit for a while and it smoothed out.

D- Very unusual. I wouldn't drink this a lot or often. I'll say it does age fairly well and if you're into vintage and run across it, it's worth a try.

Photo of templar316
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I wasn't expecting to like this beer nearly as much as I did. I'd heard good things about this brewery, and thought this would be the one to try as the signature ale.

Pours an interested cloudy amber, with a thick eggshell head that lingers, mild laceing. The aroma is a delicate blend of caramel malt and flowery hops entertwined, the cedar is present around the edges. The flavor starts with malt sweetness, bursting into flowery hops, with a touch of dry honey before a crisp cedery finish. The hops are not overstated like many in this style and the cedar adds an exra which complements the hops and finishes this beer very, very well. It's a little oily but the brightness of the cedar and the dryness honey finish overcome it well. I'm nearing the end of my 24.3 (extra points for haveing a really cool looking bottle painted owl dude) and wishing I had more.

Photo of gofreaksgo
2.23/5  rDev -41.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into a standard shaker glass

A: Bright amber with a big head that does not go away. Excessive bubbling.

S: Mellow sweetness. Very subdued. Kind of like grandma's closet. That must be the cedar coming out.

T: Sweet nothing up front, followed by light hop bitterness, finished off with an astringent bitter smack. Definite cedar bite.

M: Light. Very light. But ends with a pucker that won't leave the back of the cheeks.

D: One of these is enough for me. Coats the mouth. Won't go away. Water will not get rid of this.

I'm not a big fan of this beer but I don't know if that's because it's a unique style and my first taste of it or because it's not very good. IPA aged in cedar. It' probably just not my style.

Photo of jrallen34
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank this from a bottle into a chalice.

It pours a dark oraned with a peach colored head that disappears quickly, has little lacing.

It smells very good of citrus with light hops, but the aroma is light, doesn't present hard you really have to get down there and smell it.

This beer starts out light sweet with flavors of hops and ends with nice bitter touch like a typical IPA. This one is easy to drink, a likeable bitter end. Overall a very decent effort.

Photo of zeff80
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a cloudy orange color with a good deal of sediment in the glass. It had a small, off-white head head that left soapy residue.

S - It smelled of cedar, vanilla, floral notes and fruit.

T - This had a really strong vanilla taste and had a powerful sweet caramel flavor, too. There was hints of woody flavors and fruits.

M - It was soft, smooth and creamy. A light to medium-bodied ale.

D - This is a nice brew. It's almost too sweet to have more than one in a sitting.

Photo of carsonplunkett
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought from Frugal Mcdoogal in Nashville, TN for $5. Poured from the bottle into a standard pint glass.

A: This is a good looking beer. Very nice head that disappears slowly. Nice lacing. This beer is very cloudy.

S: Very fruity and sweet. Almost woody. Lots of yeast.

T: Very citrus-ey and hoppy. Tastes very clean and woody.

M: Creamy and smooth. Seems very thin for an india pale ale.

D: Not exactly "sessionable" due to the fact that this is such a unique and different beer. Still fairly drinkable. I'll definitely grab one of these again.

Photo of DrJay
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Watch out for gushers with this one. I cracked a cold bottle just like I always do, but foam erupted right away and caused a bit of a mess. I only lost a couple ounces though and it calmed down right away. Once in the glass, it was a hazy orange with a fluffy eggshell coloured cap. Good head retention with a bit of chunky lace. Interesting aroma, a combination of spicy wood and floral character. There's a mild nutmeg component and hint of citrus. The wood aging was a little overdone in the flavour - too much cedar and wood resin along with a dry astringency - but the hops weren't completely overwhelmed. Bitterness was light, as was malt sweetness. Notes of nutmeg and cinnamon appeared mid-palate. Slight warmth in the finish. The carbonation died down quite quickly, starting very high but becoming a bit low after 10 minutes or so. Overall it's an interesting beer, but the wood was too much for me. If it was brought into balance it would be really good rather than a bit better than average.

Photo of eewhiz
4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I must admit, I was pretty skeptical of finding a decent beer here. I found this beer in a gourmet food store in singles, it looked interesting, so I gave it a try (I was out-of-state).

The beer poured a cloudy burnt orange color, and I poured down the center of the glass, and got way too much head. The head was also a tannish orange color. As I poured the rest I was a bit more careful, still quite a heady beer.

The aroma was nice, certainly hints of some cedar (label stated aged in Cedar casks). The taste was unique, it had a IPA hoppy flavor, and the strong cedar accents actually went well with the hops. The finish was clean and too a point slightly sweet. The lacing was big, persistent and heavy around the glass.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and was pleasantly surprised.
I have never heard of Kiuchi Brewing, now I am on a quest to find more.

Photo of John_M
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a slightly dark amber color with pretty good head retention and lacing. I don't get a lot on the nose, just some light citrus and tea aroma. Flavors on the palate replicate the nose, except there's something of a delicateness to this beer's flavor profile that is unusual. The beer is fairly light and crisp, with the light bitterness nicely balanced with the light malt. Mouthfeel is fairly light, and the alcohol is barely noticeable. Drinkabilityh is pretty good.... I could probably drink a lot of this very beer.

An absolute treat to try on draft.

Photo of johndakar
4.55/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice red orange with a slightly tan head. Poured up a very nice thick head in a 22 oz. nonic glass. Decent head retention.
Smells like most Hitachino beers, ie a little musty/cardboardy from travel. A bit of the cedar from the casks comes through in the aroma.
Wow! I can totally taste the cedar casks this was aged in. I'm not getting the sake taste that I've found before in the Red Rice. Woody, almost pithy. I'm not sure if this is a desirable flavor, but it is damn interesting!
Finishes clean with a little residual bitterness. Closer to an American style Pale Ale than an IPA as far as perceptible bitterness goes. I guess that's what you get when you brew a hand me down recipe from the 1800s using readily available hops.

I'd almost say you could session this. I'll have to lay into a whole six pack next time I find it and try it out.

Photo of froghop
3.13/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a cloudy orange with a small off-white head, and some lacing.

smell is faint, grain, spice, and a touch of citrus.

taste is smooth and creamy, grain, some spice, some citrus, a little woody, and a touch of pine in back.

more of a bitter than a IPA to me.

Photo of Patrick999
4.7/5  rDev +24%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Cap opens with a real nice "pfft." Wow, this pours into my Stone imperial pint glass with a massive 2-finger head! Damn, ridiculous lacing too. Freakin' ice-cream-cone head just like Houblon Chouffe; you're kidding me, right? Amber-gold pale ale body. If I'm judging a book by its cover, this one is perfect. This is a perfect 5 in looks, and I don't even have to think about it.

S - Wow! I was not expecting the cedar casks in which this was matured to come through like this. Very woody, in a light and pleasant manner, just as you'd expect from cedar. I note a lot of raisin-y sweetness beyond this, almost like a Dogfish Head big beer - I hope it isn't as sweet as it smells. It's almost starting to smell like ripe strawberries.

T - Hmmm, I do get a crazy suggestion of strawberries here, yet it isn't as sweet as I feared. What hops were used in this, I wonder???? Interesting astringent bitterness, a little soapy and pine-sap-ish. Still big on the strawberries - I haven't had strawberry flavor come through like this in a beer before, short of a big-assed barleywine. I've almost forgotten about the cedar - I love the light woodiness it imparts here. This beer is definitely something!

F - This beer has been damn near nailed. Medium body, the somewhat heavier feel makes it seem stronger than it is, yet this is still a very smooth beer that slides down the gullet with no problems.

D - I must get more. I had the Hitachino Nest Red Rice, and the White Ale, and was only mildly impressed...but this, this is excellent. At 7.5%, you are not going to pound this, but it is still very much enjoyable. My compliments to this Japanese brewer. How can this be this underrated?

Photo of Larrytown
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour a nut brown with some gold highlights. Head fades quickly and mot much lacing. The nose is heavy in fruit, but not in a way you'd expect from anything calling itself a "pale ale".

Taste is...different. Honestly, it reminds me almost more of an ESB than any sort of IPA. We have a deeper fruitiness than you might expect mixing with a malt base.

Overall it's good and I'm glad I tried it. I won't be in a rush to get back to it though.

Photo of daftafne
2.88/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Served very cold and poured into a tulip. Two fingers of resilient billowing white head formed supported by the glass and lively effervescence. Dull copper colored liquid with visible yeast sediment. The cedar smell is surprisingly obvious and strong. Also smells of grapes, and apples. Taste is tart with cedar and and some finishing hops predominating. Just a hint of malts near the end. A pretty straightforward beer in taste. Dry and light mouthfeel. Interesting beer to try for the cedar, but not really the most pleasing.

Photo of northernbrewer
2.83/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bottle says brewed in 2002. I almost believe it because the bottle is quite dusty. Bottle reports 7% abv and oak cask aging.

Appearance: Poured into a ravenhead dimple. I was expecting IPA so I was a bit disappointed with the appearance. Copper-colored. loose two-finger head, composed of big bubbles. Ended up with some pretty big chunks from the krausen in my glass.

yeasty aroma I don't detect any hoppy notes.

Flavor: complex notes of oak, sake, pineapple, brown sugar, yeast. No real notable hop character aroma.

Mouthfeel: is much like unfiltered sake which compliments the complex flavors

Overall I'd say this beer is quite rich and flavorful. If you read the front label and ignore the back, then this is a very nice real ale offering. Trying to label this beer as an IPA is quite dangerous because the style guidelines are written around the American adaptation of this style. I'd say Hitochino's Nest is shooting for one of those neat CAMRA labels on their bottle.

Photo of tigg924
4.43/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: copper amber, clear, medium head, medium carbonation

Smell: notes of pear, pineapple, and wood jump out

Taste: pear, pineapple, wood, sweet fruit--maybe lychee, malt

Mouthfeel: very balanced--parts sweet--parts sour--very smooth

Drinkability: I have never tasted another beer quite like this one. To say it is complex in aroma and taste is an understatement. This one grew on me as I tasted it and could have several..I think this is a must beer if not just for its uniqueness.

Photo of SFLpunk
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz brown glass pry-top bottle. Only stamp says J.8.9. (not sure what that means).

Appearance: Incredibly hazy orange/tan color with one inch of off-white head that leaves distinct rings of lacing.

Nose: It immediately smells like sour oranges aged in oak. Also white grapefruit, citrus peel/rind, there's a woody note, but not the typical "oak" aromas. Almost a vanilla note, but not quite. It's like smelling a candle labeled "Clean Mist" can kinda tell the individual parts, but can't quite place all the aromas.

Palate: Wow. There's a lot going on here. For starters, the hops play a big citrus-y roll up front and the bitterness then segues into that sour/wood feeling of a beer aged in exposed conditions (i.e. some outside bacterias + wood ageing). All the citrus from the nose is joined by a burnt coal and a little metallic or chemical thing. Nicely bitter and somewhat sour. Texture on the finish is woody.

Notes: This is an unusual beer, but what did I expect from Hitachino? I think I like it, but would like to try it again another day, maybe with some food...but what to pair it with? Yikes!

Photo of bolddeciever
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saw this one at my local Japanese grocery store, always willing to try something new from Hitachino, even if it is, like anything imported from Japan, a bit pricey. The beer's usually good, and OK, I'll admit it, the owl's adorable. And a Japanese IPA, aged in cedar sake casks? That set off my WTF sensor enough that I had to try it.

33 cl bottle, poured into my favorite Chimay goblet.

The moment I opened the bottle I was greeted with a powerful bouquet of floral hops. Poured out a deep red-orange with a finger of off-white head, which died down to a thin slick of bubbles and left behind delicate but sticky lace. Hazy with particulate, no more than expected of an unfiltered IPA. Bitterness up front in the first sip, with floral and citric hop flavor around the edges and maybe some cedar (hard to tell at this point how much of this is from the wood and how much is cedar-like flavors coming from the hops). Bitterness gives way to hop flavor in the finish, with an astringency and aftertaste from the cedar that builds through the glass. The 7.5% ABV shows itself (note: Above description lists it at 7%, but the bottle sys 7.5%), not so much as hotness as in a medicinal alcohol flavor. All in all this isn't terribly far out of balance with the rest of the beer, but does linger at the edge of notice the whole way through. Mouthfeel is just a little bit thinner than I'd like to see with this beer.

Overall, quite an interesting beer. The drinkability score suffers a bit from the medicinal alcohol flavor, but the lovely aroma and the novelty of the cedar, which lingered pleasantly long after the glass was empty (I still can taste the forest on my lips), make this one I'd gladly try again, even given the price tag.

Photo of Pencible
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a slightly hazy copper color with off-white head. It smelled like mulling spices and cloves with overripe apple and orange. It tasted like sweet orange and overripe apple with mulling spices and green peppercorns and honey malt, and a bit of sweet brandy oak and rice malt. It was fairly thick with some carbonation, and had a sweet and spiced aftertaste. Overall this had a very unique taste that's well constructed and pretty enjoyable. It was clean, had good body, and was fairly easy to drink. If you like cider, you would probably really enjoy this beer.

Photo of oldhippie247
3.2/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dull hazy gold with tons of yeasty/protein sediment. Head is really fluffy and off-white.

The nose is fairly muted with only brief hints of bready yeast and some sweet fruit. I was looking for and hoping for the cedar more on the nose, but alas...

The hop profile of this Japanese pale ale is light as I was expecting. Much more yeasty than expected. As on the nose, the cedar casks in which it was aged make no bold statements here--I guess the upside is there definitely isn't too much wood on this beer.

Overall a decent beer, but a little disappointing. I happen to know that the bottle I tasted had been on the shelves quite a while, so another tasting may be in the cards. For now I think I'll stick with Hitachino's White Ale and Red Rice.

Photo of erz316
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 floz brown bottle into S. smith pint glass

A - a 'gusher' as you would have it. the bottle pours a vehement head, in a light cream/orange color. head is huge and takes a while to settle down, a long time. the body is very nice and gives off a dark copper colour as I watch the yeast sink to the bottom. The body just really looks like a beer, not much else to say, nor do I really know how to put it.

S - well, this smell like no ipa i've ever had, smell more like some sort of a cinnamon-ginger spiced beer. people are calling this cedar, i like my description, as it is open to interpretation for what aspects of either spice. some presence of sweeter malts int e back, no clue as to the alcohol as of yet.

T - yeah, now I see the cedar connotation. this is a spicy and woody ale, nothing really like an ipa in my experience. many spices in here: chinese 5-spice powder, dried ginger powder, a whole lot of different herbs and grasses. very complex for my palate. the finish is about the same as the initial taste, oddly enough, except there might finally be come bitter hops coming out. the after taste is this begrudgingly sweet taste with the odd spice posset medley. kinda funky for me, but interesting to see what the japanese think an ipa is.

MF&D - a bit thin for an ipa, could be a bit thicker for me. the drinkability though is unhampered by the feel and carbonation. the only thing that holds it back is how odd the taste is.

Photo of tai4ji2x
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(NOTE 4/2011 - my most recent re-review, more positive than the one below, is backlogged and still forthcoming.)


trying to re-review with the small, 330ml brown bottle. no discernable dating, but there is a printing of "J.8.9" on the label.

yeast disturbs easily. cloudy/hazy, but with classic orangey amber. nice head barely fades, and leaves a decent lace.

(appearance score modified 3.5 -> 4.0)

i seem to detect something like "skunk" again. or is this the cedar aging? it's light, but i do wonder... underneath, there is grassy hop with hint of pine. caramel malt in the back, but faint, plus whiff of fruity peach or pear.

flavors follow accordingly. nice malt and grassy hop balance, with hints of estery fruit (peach? apple?), but again: what is that weird flavor? skunk? or woody cedar? moderate to strong bitterness, with some nuttiness to the yeast.

smooth, not thin. moderate, fluffy carbonation. faint resins in the finish.


720ml dark green bottle. dating unknown. poured into small tulip.

hazy, golden honey color with dark orange tint. decent head gradually fades to thin layer. some lacing.

aroma manages to betray some possible skunking. and sure enough, i soon realized that the bottle is green glass, albeit a very dark green. this is very unfortunate, as there were some toasted malt and fruity notes that might have shone through.

flavor has those toasted malts as well, behind a bold hoppiness that is more grassy than citrus. hints of woodiness. again, this is disappointingly negated by a skunk character which persists into the otherwise nicely bitter finish.

thinner than expected, but properly carbonated.

GREEN BOTTLES?!? WHY OH WHY?!? this might be an amazing beer, but i have a feeling i've missed out on ever really finding out...

Photo of JamesS
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a nice deep copper color, with just a bit of initial head and then no lacing. Good scent, nice and not terribly unbalanced, with a good leaning aroma towards citrus hops. Nice taste, a good hoppy beer (citrus and a little floral) with just a nice slight hop aftertaste; still has some nice malt qualities. Goes down well, no hint of alcohol at all.

(Given to me as a gift, friend (BA JKrout) picked it up in Tennessee.)

EDIT: Seemed more like an American IPA than an English IPA.

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale from Kiuchi Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 390 ratings.