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Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH) - Kiuchi Brewery

Not Rated.
Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH)Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

345 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 345
Hads: 670
Avg: 3.77
pDev: 17.51%
Wants: 26
Gots: 45 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Kiuchi Brewery visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: UncleJimbo on 12-29-2002

From Japan's most prestigious brewery, Hitachino Nest XH (Extra High) is a strong Belgian Brown Ale, matured in shochu (distilled sake) barrels. Chinook & Styrian Goldings hops are use
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Reviews: 345 | Hads: 670
Photo of Sammy
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Orange colour and bubbly head, floral aromas. A different culture and a different measure of what bitterness is. A definite woodiness, without too much of supporting flavours other than alcohol and a bitterness from the ale itself. I do not believe it was greatly drinkable, by different standards it is a successful ageing/barreling.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky orange with a foamy bone head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Small particles of sediment are seen floating around in the beer after the pour. Smell is of malt, grain, honey, and fruity aromas. Taste is much the same with malt and slightly sour dark fruit flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with some interesting aromas and flavors but I am not getting any sake influence on the final product.

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Photo of metter98
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy dark orange in color and poured with a thin white head that quickly dissipated into lacy patterns of bubbles. A light amount of carbonation is visible from the rising bubbles.
S: The nose is slightly sour and has light aromas of citrus and sake.
T: There is sourness in the initial taste, although this weakens as the beer warms up and the underlying malty flavors become a bit stronger, which also have notes of oak and sake from the barrel aging. There is a slight amount of malty sweetness in the initial taste and this is followed by a mild amount of bitterness in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and slightly dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. A bit of alcohol warming is present in the finish.
D: Although the alcohol is well masked from the taste, the beer needs to warm up before it becomes drinkable. There's no way that I could drink more than one of these in a sitting.

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Photo of brentk56
4.45/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy amber color with a foamy beige head that maintains a multi-finger retention a leaves a few splashes of lace

Smell: Rice pudding, vanilla, sarsaparilla and a bit of booziness

Taste: Oak, caramel and tart green apples up front, with a developing rice pudding and rum flavor by mid-palate; after the swallow, there is an interesting fruity flavor (lychee) that adds complexity, with the rice pudding and oaky flavors returning only to be dominated by a rather sour after-taste

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low carbonation

Drinkability: Definitely one of the more interesting beers I have tried, with a flavor profile that is all over the palate; a little more carbonation would be a plus but this is an otherwise extraordinary beer

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Photo of Knapp85
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was very interested in trying the beer when I saw that it was left over on tap at the Bethlehem Speakeasy after a Hitachino dinner they had put on a while ago. I read up on the brew and it sounded like it would be pretty cool to try.

I ordered up a glass and it was brought to me as a hazy orange color with a pretty nice looking head on it. The retention laced the glass with every sip. Had the look of a really good brew. The smell was a little different then expected. The smells of some hops and some wood came through along with some light fruit aromas. The taste wasn't really what I was expecting. I thought that it'd have some dominant Sake flavors throughout, but it didn't. The flavors were a little bit herbed and a little bit bitter. The mouthfeel was decent, overall I would drink it again to give it another shot.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

With the barrel-aged craze at full throttle, I'm surprised to only now see shocyu casks being used. It takes a mighty base beer to absorb these boozy flavors in balance and not to be dwarfed by them.

XH pours with a diffused amber-brown color. Haze allows for a soft glow for a masculine and refined appearance. A delicate sheet of creme coats the surface of the beer with intermitten pockets of foam and lace. Good retention despite such alcohol dominance and wood aging.

Thin and spicy alcohols meet the nose with a tanic, woody scent of cedar, ginger, and light must. Caramel scents seem to be the bridge between the oak aroma and malty base. Lightly peppery and vinous with berry-like esters with light vanilla and almond. The beer seems to give new scents with each visit to the glass.

Sweet caramel flavor meets the front of the tongue but quickly develop into burnt caramel, bread crust, and graham crackers. Fruity esters of grapes, plumbs, dates, and figs develop from the caramel maltiness and morph towards the woody elements of spice, maple, and raw cedar or ginger. Piney hops also help to round out the tanins from oak and balance the sweetness.

Timidly robust early, the beer releases a mild creamy notation before the spice and alcohol usher in a warm and moderately astringent finish. Quite harsh with fusal alcohols for a beer topping out at 7%-8% abv.

The complexity of the beer reaches very high marks although the base beer claims more unresolved sweetness than dry maltiness. But the harshness of alcohol and tanin seem to be unnecessary and provide the only real detractions.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep cloudy dirty beige color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma consists of a sweet barley malt base with some distinctive notes of light sake. Taste is also dominated by a barley wine type taste of sweet malt with some distinctive notes of rice and sake, which I must admit are quite pleasant. Full body with some great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Another winner beer from a great brewery.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle. 'Long Maturation Period'? In what? More info, please and domo arigoto.

This beer pours a clear dark bronzed amber hue, with one skinny finger of weakly foamy, and somewhat creamy ecru head, which leaves a bit of loose ocean spray lace around the glass as it quickly and evenly subsides.

It smells of muddled, but still damned fruity citrus hops, tart red grapes, musty toffee/caramel malt, and a softly bristling booziness. The taste is rather nutty - chestnuts, really - slick caramel malt, resinous pine and citrus rind hops, concentrated honey, a soft grainy vinous woodiness, and a bit of rice wine alcohol warming.

The carbonation is fairly soft, and mostly just pleasantly frothy, the body medium-light in weight for the style, generally smooth, and perhaps a tad creamy. It finishes still hoppy on the citrus and pine front lines, with the attending bready caramel lackey sweetness. The 8 points of booze do well by this one's homage in that they are not overtly noticeable.

I wasn't expecting this to taste so much like a Japanese barrel-aged DIPA, but it surely does. If we're seizing that thread, then maybe this is a little restrained on the overall hop and malt profile in comparison to the NA versions, but enjoyable nonetheless. As a BSDA, however, this is as confused, but still as determined, as a first-time condom purchaser.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark coppery orange with a flurry of dark yeast that entered the glass just before the pour was broken off. Two fingers of golden sandstone colored foam look good atop the beer. As the crown begins its descent, fine sheets of speckled lace can be seen on the sides of the drinking vessel. It's an interesting look... and a good one.

When nose was put over glass, the word that came immediately to mind was 'Belgium'. XH smells like a BSDA. It features moderately dark malt and an amazing amount of clove-like phenols that have to be due to Belgian yeast. I've never had sake, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't smell like this.

Wow, what a fascinating ale! Hitachino Nest XH tastes like a cross between a BSDA, a wild ale and a caramel-malted strong ale. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Kiuchi added a few bugs, such as Brettanomyces or Pediococcus. The bandage-like phenols make XH taste like it was aged in Lagavulin casks rather than sake casks.

Specifics are hard to nail down. Let's go with melted caramel candy, mushy apples, red grapes, tobacco, horse blanket funk and cloves. There's a hint of oaky woodiness, but not much. I wish I knew what sake tastes like and am now motivated to buy one of the bottles that has been tempting me from the cooler of a local wine and beer shop.

The mouthfeel just does earn the above score. It starts out too thin, then comes into its own with warming, and even develops a light chewiness by the bottom of the bottle. A Belgian brewer's touch with carbonation would probably shoot it into the stratosphere.

Kiuchi beer is expensive (this bottle was $4.79), but if you pick and choose carefully, it's worth it. Hitachino Nest XH is outstanding beer for a whole host of reasons: it tastes like nothing else, it's captivatingly complex, it's decidedly delicious, and its dangerously drinkable. Two thumbs up.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.23/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The pour is a somewhat murky light brown color with a finger of off-white head. Wow, a really strange aroma to this. It's got an almost grape soda kind of note to it. Seems like a little bit of chocolate and anise not to it as well. Maybe a light fruity tartness. Tastes quite toasty with some more of the sweet grape soda flavor. A bit of grass and bready malt is also there, maybe a hint of chocolate. On the light side of medium body with medium carbonation.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy, dark amber body bordered by a thin ring of white bubbles.

Smell: The aroma is woody from the get-go (heck, before you even get it up to your nose) with notes of what you'd imagine to be sake along with fruit and yeast.

Taste: Strongly wooden with a distinctly sour yeastiness. Expired malts delivered in coffins bearing the initials XH. Ground peppercorn medley. One spoonful of rice pudding. Tons of tannins running loose. There's never much in the way of sweetness or bitterness. Dry, yeasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: I can assure you that it is interesting, but I keep going back and forth on whether or not I actually enjoyed it...

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.27/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A rough pour from the bottle delivers a good sized head of creamy tan froth that slowly erodes over a few minutes into a short solid cap atop its reddish-brown body. I doubt that a careful pour would bring up the same head, but then you'd have a clearer beer as the yeast could be left behind in the bottle.

The nose is unusual, and offers bright notes of oak and wet cedar over a sugar candy sweetness and delicate malt base. It's floral as well, and there's a bit of some alcohol that's along the lines of a bourbon but much lighter... perhaps that's from a combination of the residual shocyu in the cask and the delicately caramelish malt. Shocyu is usually made out of roots (often sweet potatoes), whereas sake is made from rice wine. Regardless of where the alcohol is coming from, the aroma is quite intriguing and enticing.

The body is medium with a very fine-bubbled, natural carbonation from bottle conditioning.

The flavor is as you might expect, but with the malt having a more prominent role amidst the oak and candy sweetness. The alcohol is more obvious, and it gains a bit as you progress through the glass and it warms a bit. It starts sweet on the palate, then reveals its floral and candyish side, becomes a bit bitter across the middle, and then finishes dry and a touch spicy with a wash of alcohol and lingering dry oak.

Interesting to say the least! This is probably one of the most unique beers on earth, and probably worth trying for that reason alone, although I enjoyed it immensely when consumed slowly, one sip at a time. I think it wouldd make a great beer to enjoy while reading a good book, or watching a movie, but I'd avoid it at the bar. Take a bottle home and savor it slowly.

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Photo of mactrail
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Attractive dark amber with a creamy foam on the second pour.

Starts out sweet with the dry yeasty edge. This tastes very much in the Belgian style to me. It's actually better than a lot of actual Belgian dark beers. This is cleaner, with just enough funk, and it has a bitterish edge that is the right counterbalance to the sugars. Smooth caramel finish.

Tremendously drinkable and not excessively strong. It's complex, intriguingly fruity, and has that mysterious Belgian yeastiness. From the 3.75 ml bottle purchased in Tucson (thanks, Jason).

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Photo of kojevergas
3.12/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

7% ABV according to my label. 11.2 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into an EKU 28 snifter in me gaff in Los Angeles, California. Acquired at the Whole Foods in Glendale. I've had a couple beers from this brewery and I remember liking them in a general sense but none stuck out. I chose this one because I don't know that I've had a beer aged in sake casks afore. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a half finger head of fair cream, decent thickness, and good retention considering the relatively high ABV. Pours a nontransparent chestnut. Opaque. No yeast particles are visible.

Sm: Clean malts dominate. An oak tone. Hints of sake. Raisin, fig. Light fruit esters. Hints of light oily hops. A light strength aroma.

T: Oak and hints of bright fruit esters over a clean malt foundation. Subtle. I get sake only in the third act, and it isn't particularly special. A bit out of place actually. Some yeast comes through, along with oily hops (also especially in the third act, which is too bitter). Hints of cherry. Some light caramelized malt. Not horribly complex, but interesting. No real layering.

Mf: Smooth and wet. A touch too thick. Some coarseness throughout. I wouldn't call it slick. Adequately carbonated.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable. I wouldn't have it again, but I'm glad I tried it. I like that it's experimental, but it's strange for the alleged style. Sake just doesn't go well alongside beer in this case. The third act is bad.


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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.4/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear ruby hued brown. Crème head. Nose is thick with wood and it almost seems like cherries? There's definitely an odd fruit edge to it. Flavor is amazing, but mysterious. Clearly the cask aging has provided a depth of character that the western palate might not be able to fully comprehend and fully appreciate. Excellent carbonation and a smooth liquid feel. This is one of the most oddball beers I have ever had and I love it. Every beer lover needs to give this a shot at least once.

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Photo of smcolw
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice rocky beige head that leaves good ring lace. Pours a cloudy light brown with lots of yeasty beasties.

Sweeet malty smell (brown sugary). Slight hop spice to the nose.

The flavor starts with the sweetness that comes through in the nose. There is a strong bite of yeast. The finish is quite bitter. I like the balance. I can not taste any sake or oak. The body is rich, like a hot chocolate.

I couldn't drink this regularly, but I would say this is one of the superior versions of strong ale.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle into tulip glass, 11.03 bottle code. Pours very hazy dark reddish brown color with a 1 finger fairly dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big raisin, apple, pear, prune, pepper, caramel, molasses, clove, earth, toast, chocolate, oak, and yeast spiciness. Damn nice and very unique aromas with good balance and complexity. Taste of raisin, prune, molasses, grape, toast, chocolate, caramel, pepper, clove, earth, oak, wheat, and yeast spiciness. Lingering notes of dark fruits, chocolate, caramel, molasses, clove, pepper, oak, earth, and yeast spiciness on the finish for a good bit. Excellent balance and complexity of flavors; zero cloying flavors after the finish. I have no idea what sake tastes like alone, but I would imagine the unique fruitiness in this beer is that character. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a slick, creamy, and slightly syrupy mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Belgian dark ale! Very unique with the sake cask aging, and it seems to work out great. Nicely complex and balanced. Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Gorgeous burgundy color, under a healthy dollop of creamy, pudding-y froth.

Nose smacks of red wine from the start, rich and fruity, turning mellow and woody. And then it resembles a Belgian lambic, ...and now I get the sake. Very interesting.

Taste: all that and more, but smooth, ...very smooth, and fully flavored. Warm, rich, and inviting. Sweet, then dry, then all manner of funky stuff, and ultimately a complex and rewarding drink. Tastes like a barleywine, but with much more going on.

I highly recommend this one.

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Photo of chinchill
3.74/5  rDev -0.8%

Pour is hazy dark amber with a good, durable, creamy head, vg lacing
Sake barrel treatment comes out clearly about mid-taste, and is also present in the aroma.
Aroma has decent complexity, as does the flavor, which has both bready and fruity notes too.
Medium-full body; medium+ carbonation; smooth.
O interesting Japanese beer.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.6/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured into a goblet. Has no freshness date on it. Beer is reddish brown and hazy. Forms a thick white head that falls away after a few minutes to a thin head that covers the top of the beer leaving behind a lot of lacing on the walls of the goblet.

Aroma is a mixture between a nice lager and a Belgian ale. Clean and bright aroma, mixed in are some alcohol and a distinct spiciness.

Beer is low bodied, much lower than I expected. Finishes cleanly. There is a definite flavor of alcohol and there is an odd bitterness and spice character. This could be from the barrels I suppose. I'm not a sake fan and this beer tastes nothing like sake. I'm not sure how well it picked up the flavors of the barrel. I am currently unsure which of their beers to compare it to. Oh well. Mouthfeel is a little odd, not much connectivity and the beer is really thin. Drinkability is OK. The beer gets better and the spice and bitterness makes more sense when the beer approaches room temperature. Wasn't my favorite.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a hazy golden orange to ruby red in color with a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation at the edges of the glass and near the surface. The beer has a half finger tall creamy dark beige head that slowly reduces to a large thin patch with a thin film covering the rest of the surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of malts with some citrus hops and a definite presence of sake. There is a light aroma of alcohol but that is likely contributed by the sake.

T: Similar to the smell, there is a fairly strong body of malts and a very light presence of sourness that disappears as the beer warms. There are some light notes from the citrus hops and some oak from the barrel aging. Also, there is a fairly strong flavor of sake.

M: On the fuller side of medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Lightly dry with some light alcohol warming in the finish.

O: While the ABV is not that high for this beer, it is very strong tasting and not the easiest to drink. Enjoyable but one you have to slowly sip on and not one that you could have multiple in a session.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.66/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Travita for sharing this beer.

The beer pours an orangish-amber color with a tan head. The aroma is basic caramel malt with some fruit and yeast. The flavor is completely different, with brett funk, citrus fruit and a good amount of tartness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.19/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I was curious (yellow or blue) to try this when I saw it on a store's shelf recently and today being New Beer Sunday's anniversary, I decided to open up my bottle.

Shazam! It could not wait to get out, like my neighbor's dog or a genie and began foaming up through the neck even before I finished popping the cap. Wow, was the nose fun-kay! Brett? Definitely something wild going on there. I did an emergency pour to keep from losing any and it resulted in two-plus fingers' worth of rocky, ecru head that slowly fell away, leaving some beautiful lacing in its wake. Color was a cloudy orangish-amber and I could even see some floaties which may have been stirred up by my anxious pour. I still have half-a-bottle, so I may allow it to settle and gently decant the remainder. Leaning into the glass, it definitely had some tart brett-like smell going on. My mouth actually puckered briefly. Mouthfeel was big, full, and zipping with CO2 bubbles. It tasted not gueuze-like, as the nose seemed to suggest, but more sour fruit-like. I tasted cherry, oak wood, and lemon tart. Wow, what a way to begin a Sunday! Finish was tart up front but the oakiness lingered after the finish. I was glad that my curiosity paid off, but one was plenty for me.

I picked this up at Hunger ‘n’ Thirst recently and with the chill air and the return of Standard Time, this seems like a good time to drink it.

From the bottle: “Matured in Sake Casks”; “This strong ale was matured in Oak Casks which was [sic] used for maturation of Shocyu. Shocyu is distilled Sake, so please enjoy rich flavor both from beer and Sake.”

I Pop!ped the cap and began a heavy-handed pour that caused a pseudo-cascade, settling into just over three fingers of dense, French Vanilla-colored head with good retention. Color was a hazy Amber to Deep Amber/Light Copper (SRM = > 9, < 13). Nose had a definite oakiness along with a lightly funky bite. Hmmm. Mouthfeel was medium. The initial flavor was like sucking on a piece of freshly cut wood, then it gave ‘way to a funky lemony tartness. I have to say, this was not what I was expecting, but it was certainly interesting. I do not have enough exposure to Sake and/or Shocyu to be able to speak to what flavors it/they may have imparted, but warming, it took on a pronounced booziness. Wow! I noticed some lees in the bottom of the bottle, so I re-agitated the remainder to loosen them up and prepared for another pour. In the meantime, it finished gaspingly dry. Between the wood flavor and the inherent tartness, this was one puckering beer. I did not dislike it, but I cannot say that I was a huge fan either. It was more of a novelty for me than anything else.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

A very uniform and foamy off tan head is presented, perhaps about three fingers and quite large, sitting on a great brown reddish amber body. Cloudy and dense looking, head has great retention and a real nice appearance, and picks up some of the red color of the body it seems. Real nice looking here.

Bouquet is just great. Plums, dark fruits, hints of powdery dryness like a classic dubbel. Really enjoy this nose.

Taste is unfortunately kind of disappointing. Mild an strongly alcohol tasting. Sake sense does come through though which is nice but overpowers the beer. Has a good feel and palate, but feels a bit strong for what it is even if it is only about 8 percent.

Overall I am not too crazy about this one, much of the excitement generated from the smell doesn't come off in the taste. It's a great looking beer though I must say.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled March 2009
This foams up slowly as soon as I pop the cap. A careful pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a dense, two-finger thick, amber tinged, light tan colored head. As the head slowly subsides it leaves some nice lacing patterns on the sides of the glass. The beer is a murky, plum color that shows an almost opaque, golden cherry-red color when held up to the light. The aroma is quite interesting, not at all what I expected, even given that I didn't know what to expect. The nose has a light tartness to it, a ripe fruitiness that reminds me a bit of a desert wine and some definite plum; there is an earthy maltiness that is something like raisins, perhaps a touch of musty damp cellar like notes and, as I dig deeper, a bright cinnamon note that mixes with the rich fruity aromatics. There seems a back note to the spiciness that reminds me a bit of cedar somehow, though this is quite subtle and difficult to grasp at times.

The taste has a certain sweetness to it, but really is more rich and complex than simply sweet. The body is fairly full, and is viscous enough to weigh down what would otherwise be a very effervescent level of carbonation. The finish has a touch of astringency to it as well as a distinct, though soft, note that definitely reminds me of the after-taste of sake. This has flavors from the sake that remind me of a flint-like, white wine, and when combined with some of the other sweet fruity notes from the beer can remind me of raisins at times. The finish has a note of brown sugar, as well as a touch of rum that lingers. Cedar like flavors add a spiciness to this beer that is a mix of pepper, ginger, allspice and cinnamon, though not really any of these things exactly.

When I come back to the nose I get a much stronger presence of cedar, though it is still fairly soft; I really wonder where this is coming from, is a traditional Sake cask made of cedar? A quick google search shows that this is indeed the wood that is traditionally used for Sake and could explain its flavor presence in this beer. Some further research though suggests that this was aged in oak barrels. Either way there is an interesting wood-influenced character to this beer that is a bit different from anything I have experienced before in beer.

This is a very interesting beer, the sake cask aging definitely adds a distinct, interesting signature to this beer. The base beer easily stands up to this though, and the two combine to form a pretty well integrated, interesting whole that is likely greater than the just the sum of the two spirits.

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Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH) from Kiuchi Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 345 ratings.