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Kirin Ichiban | Kirin Brewery Company, Limited

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585 Reviews
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Kirin IchibanKirin Ichiban

Brewed by:
Kirin Brewery Company, Limited

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: 585 | Ratings: 1,765
Photo of guitarkirk
3.63/5  rDev +37.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I got this because i found i don't like hops very much and this says 100% malt on the label. Well, i have to say i love this beer! And i'm surprised you can get this taste with no hops at all.(I'll keep this in mind when i start brewing my own!!). At 5% ABV this is a nice beer to drink and it has what i'm looking for...which is the opposite of a beer called hopalicious... I usually like darker beers but this has a blond pale ale look. The smell and taste is sweet malty... and i like it!! Overall i'm pleasantly surprised and look forward to my next bottle...

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.62/5  rDev +37.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22.

The appearance is what it is. Average golden lager appearance with average silky white head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Smells okay. Barley and a bit of malt. Not a lot of detail to it.

Tastes pretty good, actually. There's a sweetness that is the unmistakable signature of rice. Otherwise the tastes are on par with any basic golden lager sans any noticeable hoppiness. Goes good with sushi.

The moutfeel is good. Smooth but a bit bubbly.

I like the drinkability of this one. Its not going to blow anyone away with a huge range of tastes and its not a high quality beer, but for what it is it gets the job done.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
3.6/5  rDev +36.4%
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.

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Photo of Grundle20
3.6/5  rDev +36.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

The beer is crystal clear straw yellow in color. There's a minor white head with lousy retention and no lacing.

There's a funky lager character to the beer but for the most part it smells like dirty water.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
Again there's not much going on here. The beer drinks light and flat with a decent crispness. Only the slightest notes of a rice can be drawn from the taste. The finish is clean but for an cheap lager this beer's aftertaste is actually not too bad.

This beer is just about as drinkable as water. It's not very tasty but it's certainly easy to down.

Bottom Line:
Slightly better than your average macro lager but it's still not bringing much to the table.

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Photo of JDV
3.58/5  rDev +35.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light to medium gold with a fair amount of white head. Definite lacing as I drink. Smell is of honey sweet malt mostly. Taste is refreshing, slightly watery, with a touch of bitter and sweet malt up front followed by a smooth lightly sweet rice-like finish. I really like this one, and it is definitely my favorite light lager. Very easy drinking and refreshing with a hot meal, or on a hot day and exactly what I'm looking for when I want a cold beer to cool me off.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.56/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Straw color with a huge white head and very active carbonation which lasts. All adjunct "cooked rice/corn" aroma and flavor but it is thirst quenching. Medium-light bodied with a light smooth creaminess with a crisp biting dry finish.

Pass on this and spend a few more dimes to get some Sapporo.

Per Can: "Anheuser Busch Inc, Los Angeles, CA"

Packaged: 12/20/04
Tasted: 03/12/05

($2.29 / 24 oz. tall can)

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Photo of rarbring
3.55/5  rDev +34.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A clear straw colored beer,a white high and firm head that leaves good lacing.

The smell is fragrant citric, fresh grass and nettles.

The taste has a pure dextrose sweetness, the lemon and lime juice, finishing with bitter nuances newly mowed grass.

Rather small carbonation, small bubbles, soft and a fresh texture, a rather small body, but a smooth dryness.

A nice well balanced beer, went well with sushi.

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Photo of PatandDavid
3.55/5  rDev +34.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am a bit surprised at the reviews for this one. Went to a local chinese restaraunt, saw this on the draft menu, asked if they went through a lot of it, and ended up having two of them. Brilliant gold dubloon color, no head. Aroma was slightly green grass, very faint. Mouthfeel was just shy of medium, but still decent. Carbonation wasn't overwhelming, in fact seemed a bit larger than I expected. Taste overall was a non-threatening lager, no odd or off tastes. I found it easy to drink, ended up ordering two. Would I get it again? Probably not at the beer store, but if I went to the restaraunt again, then sure. My pint glasses looked like 20 oz size.

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.54/5  rDev +34.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: crystal clear; medium gold in color; 1 finger white head that receded to a wispy cap; nice lacing;

S: grainy; a little bready; a little skunky;

T: grainy up front; a little malt sweetness by mid-palate that increases toward the end; finish is lightly bitter;

M: medium bodied; moderate to high carbonation;

O: I like this with Japanese food;

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.53/5  rDev +33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank yesterday; reviewed from notes.

A 330ml bottle with a BB of Nov 2012. Japan's prime beer - contract brewed in the UK by Wells & Youngs. Described on the label as made from a first pressing of the finest ingredients - no idea what this is supposed to mean?!

Poured into a straight pint glass. A pale golden colour with good carbonation. Forms a large, fluffy head of white foam with good stability; this slowly subsides to a surface layer. Aroma of light malt with a crisp twang of noble hops.

Tastes of light malt with a crisp, dry finish. Notes of subtle noble hop aroma and mild stewed hops, along with faint sweetness. A whisper of solvent in the background, and a restrained bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and dry, with decent body for the style. Aftertaste of stewed noble hops.

Pretty good - a fair imitation of a German pilsner. Pleasantly dry, with a hint of noble hop character to give it an edge. Goes down easily enough and would quench a thirst on a hot day. Worth trying.

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Photo of GrimmReaper
3.53/5  rDev +33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice golden hazy yellow with good size white bubbly head and decent retention and some very nice sticky lacing.
The nose is skunk right off the pour,which sticks around and lingers lightly the whole time your drinking this brew.Some mild grass and maybe grains or rice kinda smell in there also.Taste is crisp and refreshing with the mild grass coming thru,goes down nice and easy with some mild bitterness and has a mild carb feel to it.Kinda thin on the way down but very high on the consumable list.Not a bad beer at all.

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Photo of giblet
3.53/5  rDev +33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i thought that i had this beer before. i could not remember so figured wth. poured nice and golden yeller into the glass. about three eights inch of head. good steady carbonation. smells grainy with a hint of skunk. the skunk is not bad or powerful, just interesting. taste is pretty refreshing and light. good lacing down the glass and the carbonation was steady all 22 ounces down. pretty decent thirst quencher.

suckem up and movem out.


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Photo of bnes09
3.52/5  rDev +33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pale straw colored lager with little head, poor retention and minimal lacing.

Smell is clean with smooth bread grains and mild floral aromas.

Weak malt flavor, just hints at white bread taste. Hops are slightly more pronounced with a grassy character. Descent balance and a tart, crisp finish.

Light to medium bodied and well carbonated. Crisp feel is nice.

Ok brew. Not as much flavor as I was hoping for yet nothing offensive.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.51/5  rDev +33%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a golden pils color with a half inch of white tight bubbles on top.

Aroma is malty and slightly sweet but no hint of hops.

Mouthfeel is smooth...could definitely use a little more bite either from hops or the carbonation.

Taste is smooth and surprisingly clean but has a slight cloying sweetness that could have been balanced with the addition of hops at the beginning of the boil...another addition at the end would have helped with the aroma as well,

Overall a clean tasting Lager without any adjuncts leaving strange aftertastes but pretty non-descript and a bit too cloying to be really refreshing on a hot summer day.
I'm editing my review and more importantly my rating of this brew,
Ive had several different brews tonight after starting with the Kirin.
Trying this brews I tried to go from lighter to heavier/stronger in order to get a fair appreciation of each brew knowing that each heavier or stronger/more intense brew would ruin it for the lighter ones.
Now I go back to a Kirin because that was all that I had left in the fridge.
I can still taste the sweet malts, the rich but mellow and light flavors...that this brew has to offer,
I change my ratings 'up' for the simple reason that very few 'light' or lager type brews can still hold their own or be impressive after a night of indulging in the heavier, darker side.

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Photo of TippySelenoid
3.51/5  rDev +33%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I drank this out of a goblet.
It's color was dark golden and it had a little head with minimal lacing.
The aroma was pleasant because it wasn't too bitter.
The taste was great for an Asian lager.
It felt very crisp in my mouth with a little aftertaste.
Pretty good for what I paid for it but not something I'll purchase regularly.

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Photo of Asics
3.51/5  rDev +33%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served from a 25oz. can into a mug.

Look - darker yellow than it's American BMC counterparts. Clear and effervescent. Kept its head for the life of the pint.

Smell - metal, buttery. Not a whole lot going on.

Taste - more buttery flavors, more metal, small but sharp bite from the carbonation. With a large enough quaff you get some muted hops. According to the can this is a 100% malt beer so no corn flavors.

Feel - there's a sharp bite from the carbonation but is smooth otherwise. Not offensive.

Overall - Comparable to a good pilsener or helles lager. Even my wife who doesn't like the aforementioned styles enjoyed it. Would recommend versus any BMC & and many Euro imports.

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

FRESH: 4 months old on a 6 month exp.
PURCHASED @: Jewell-Osco
COST: @2.00
HEAD: large white
LACE: thin rings
COLOR: Clear straw
AROMA: light malt
MOUTHFEEL: thin; foamy
PALATE: soapy
TASTE: like a light lager with rice not corn adjunct
COMMENTS: not bad, very nice actaully; 145 cals. A-B is affiliated w/ these guys?

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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 LordChesterfield
3.48/5  rDev +31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is decent beer. There's absolutly nothing outstanding about it but it's better that most American macro brews. It pours a deep gold color with weak head and decent lacing. It smells very crisp to me, not really like vegetable matter like some other have said. It has a dry lagery taste that's typical of beers from nihon. The mouthfeel is a noticeably smooth though. I like it. It's a little hoppier and not quite as dry as asahi super dry.

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Photo of mullenite
3.47/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal clear golden color with almost no head and some light capping on the top. Lots of visible carbonation.

Smells like beer... grainy and slightly alcoholic, no hop or specialty malt aromas. Only grain.

Taste is grainy as well with some slight bread to it. Nothing complex, just light and simple.

Thin body with lots of carbonation and a clean, dry finish. Easily quaffable.

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Photo of Jemonster
3.47/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a stein. Thick white lasting head and pale gold, clear body.

S: Smells like an American beer to me, malt and hops. Nothing particularly interesting and worthy of note, but no funky, off-smells either.

T: A bit bolder than I thought it would be. Some decent bitterness, no real sweetness, and nothing else in particular. Simple flavors... It really does taste like beer flavored beer.

M: Light and actually pretty refreshing. Not enough acidity to be a great summer beer, but I wouldn't turn it down on a hot day either. Thin and cooling on the palate.

D: I could session this. Not a beer to drink for the sake of drinking great beer, but not the typical cheap offerings either.

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Photo of mjurney
3.47/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Straw color, crystal clear. Good amount of carbonation rising. Foamy head.

Grainy, grassy, crisp, clean, faint bitterness.

Semi-sweetness up front, grainy, grassy. Hop bitterness is very mild. Finish is dry, crisp, refreshing. Body is light and watery, crisp, clean, refreshing, fizzy carbonation, highly drinkable.

It's a good Japanese lager.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.46/5  rDev +31.1%
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!

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.43/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

500 mL can served well-chilled; best before 08/05/2015. Curiously enough, the label mentions that the beer in this can was contract-brewed in Germany by none other than Weihenstephan. Well, I guess that certainly can't hurt its chances.

Pours a pale golden-yellow colour; good clarity, and topped with one finger of frothy head that fizzles itself out over the next minute or two. A modest collar and scattered lace remain behind afterward. Looks fine, and has a fairly clean, bland aroma typical of these Asian lagers - fairly grainy, with some grassy hops and lager yeast.

The taste follows suit - clean and straightforward. More grainy barley malt, with a touch of lemon zest and a grassy finish. Dry aftertaste, with no lingering flavour. Light-bodied, with moderate carbonation and a smooth, easy-drinking mouthfeel. I'd put this ahead of virtually every domestic macro lager, and possibly a few of the crappier craft pale lagers.

Final Grade: 3.43, a serviceable B-. Kirin Ichiban is certainly not an interesting beer, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it. I am rather surprised at its atrocious grades, but I am going to attribute those to a combination of the difficulty involved in finding a fresh sample of this beer, and BAs not really liking this sort of style in general. Probably my favourite Japanese lager to date... keeping in mind that nearly all of the Japanese beer I've tried has been contract-brewed somewhere else.

[Updated Jun 13 2015]

I've had a few other equally enjoyable cans of this over the past few months, but this was the first time I picked up a bottle (from the singles bin, mostly for the cap). Brewed under supervision of AB-InBev in Virginia is what it claims on the label. This was much less appetizing than the canned version - super corny, sweet, and just kind of unappealing, particularly on the nose. If the bottle weren't so old (nearly 10 months) I'd be more inclined to alter the score, but until I have a bad, relatively fresh can of this, I'll still think of this one as a pretty good pseudo-imported lager for now.

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Photo of predikit
3.42/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear yellow, left a fizzy white head that receded quickly. Left no lacing on the glass.

Malt with an odd fruity like note in the scent which was interesting.

Malted grains take the start and middle, and grape like fruity note takes the finish. Light american style lager, slightly sweet.

Thin, light-bodied. Refreshing and easy to drink.

Not terrible by any means, would prefer this over American macros.

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Kirin Ichiban from Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
2.64 out of 5 based on 1,765 ratings.
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