Kirin Ichiban | Kirin Brewery Company, Limited

592 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: 592 | Ratings: 1,788
Photo of Everydayoff
2.71/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

330ml bottle poured into a pint glass.

Clear golden yellow color, it tops with very thick frothy white head with good retention. The head gradually sinks to a long-lasting bubble sheet and leaves some lacing on the glass-side. There is high fizzy carbonation.

Grain, bread, cooked veggies, earthy, some sort of sweet, sulfur, not much of smell.

The taste is watery and quite insipid with some bready malt sweetness, grain, earthiness, DMS, yeasty lager, metallic, and some hint of ghost-like hop bitterness.

Light body with good crisp and lively carbonation, semi-smooth mouthfeel and refreshing, finish is dry. Nothing worth remembering.

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Photo of Ant777uk
2.02/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

Japanese, though mine is brewed in Germany under licence, it says on bottle...

Probably better, less nuclear waste and stuff.

Never had this before, though never liked any of the others from Japan.

Nice bottle, though lagerish look with quick disappearing head. Aroma just like a German pilsner haha this is so not Japanese...

Which is probably a good thing.

Very refreshing, sweet barley and dry pilsner hops, exactly like every other German pilsner hops.

Works pretty well though, as a crisp, stylish lager. Best drung from the bottle, as there is a really cool dragon thing that looks like a goat...I thought they were Chinese..? Anyway, this is German really...

If you put a bit of extra sugar in any German pilsner, and add a Japanesey Chinese dragon, this is what you have!

Having read the other reviews, it seems apparent why Kirin outsource the brewing...anyway respect to them

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Photo of MinerBob
3.3/5  rDev +25%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Nice clear pretty much Budweiser color with a little head and some lacing. Hardly any smell or taste this is another beer you can get real cold and chug. Smooth going down bon appetit.

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Photo of NastyNorseman
2.36/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

This beer is typical mass produced fare. Head vanishes as soon as it sir. Light yellow ultra filtered appearance. Bitter lingering finish. It is what it is.

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Photo of illpass78
2.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.75

12 oz. bottle in a tulip with a bowl of katsudon.

Appearance: One of the palest, clearest beers out there. Very little head. Clean, clear and yellow. Almost weirdly clear.

Aroma: Very little other than a skunky note. Maybe don't smell this beer. Maybe smell your food. Mmmmm ... katsudon.

Taste: Again, very little. The skunk note is less than the nose, thankfully. Some grain, some cereal, some faint malt. Mostly water.

Mouthfeel: Had this with a glass of water, too, and they had the same feeling on the palate, save a few bubbles.

Overall: I can't say it's good, even for Japanese lager (Sapporo is certainly better), but it pairs well enough with Japanese food that I'm happy to have one every once in a while. A great while, probably.

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Photo of schavuytje
3.16/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pale yellow body with a bubble foam top, one for herbal-smelling aroma hops flavor of soft biscuit-like malt and a slightly bitter tasting bar with a not quite dry finish

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Photo of doktorhops
2.02/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Kirin Ichiban, or Kirin first-best, is #2 on my Mini-Japanese-Macro-Journey (or MJMJ for short). Named after a mythical chimerical (i.e. a fictional animal composed of parts of various animals) Chinese creature known as the “Qilin”. This creature was based on two giraffes which caused quite a stir in the Ming dynasty courts, the Emperor at the time used the captured animals as a publicity stunt to proclaim them as magical creatures which, after being captured by his men, proved how bitchen he truly was. I’m not making this stuff up - seriously. Fact: Kirin now owns Lion Nathan (one of the two biggest Australasian distributors). Expectations set to macro disappointment levels.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Sapporo stein [no brand bias there].

A: Much the same as Asahi: a clear golden body, however the white head of Kirin sits pretty firm at around 1 centimetre - which earns it at least an extra point over Asahi (now that we’re dealing in absolutes). 7/10.

S: Aroma has a decent whiff of DMS (Dimethyl sulfide), which is obviously due to this beer being package in a green bottle (when will brewers learn?!?). So yeah, those pleasant [sarcasm intended] notes of corn and cabbage which detract immensely from the overall drinking experience. In fact this brew is so riddled with DMS, and being a Japanese Lager means it was never going to be a bold aroma in the first place, I can’t really detect anything else. Great work Kirin! 3/10.

T: More like an Aussie macro Lager than a Japanese one - grainy, corn, hint of stewed vegetables, cabbage (DMS affecting the flavour). Finish is slightly crisp but more malt syrupy (read: inferior) than Asahi. Terrible effort for a Japanese Lager. 4/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a bit of a fizzy carbonation - another area where this is more like an Aussie macro Lager. 5/10.

D: Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve had a skunked beer due to me reviewing nice craft brews, but this really has reminded me of the bad old days of drinking Heineken/Carlsberg/Becks/anything in a green bottle - because hey there is a science behind this stuff people and any beer that contains hops undergoes a chemical reaction as soon as UV light hits it (unless it’s hopped with tetra-hop extract) it’s called “lightstruck” and it’s bad yo. In any case - green beer bottles: My goat, got. 4/10.

Food match: The drain when you get a skunked one, otherwise: Sushi.

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Photo of Benjolovesbeer
1.49/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

The bottle says it's 100% malt and it's brewed in Japan so you think good things but it's awful, might as well have Coors Lite or Bitburger 0.0 it'll taste better. It tastes like cheap fermented corn and stale barley, not malty at all. Very light looking for a 5% and hardly any carbonation.

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Photo of MeanMotaScootah
3.2/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

very little aroma - just dank malt and some bready notes. Overall a sweet lager, not sure what an American pale lager is but this seems more like a british lager to me. Not a bad lager but just different.

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Photo of SteveJeremy
3.05/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Interesting beer all around - has the feeling of stickiness and unique flavor, largely because of it being 100% malt, with almost toffee-like aromas and tastes all the way through. Very enjoyable and sessionable.

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Photo of Rock_Glenn
2.06/5  rDev -22%
look: 2.25 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I always select Kirin over a Sapporo at the local sushi places. It's better tasting and looks better. Smells rather plain but tastes pretty good for such a pale beer, but it is too thin and bland to warrant a higher rating.

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Photo of jrsqc7
2.88/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Meh. I had high hopes for this initially but once I realized what it was I can appreciate it for what it is. It's light and frothy with some genuine malt lingering on.

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Photo of DoubleMalt
3.17/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

You just never know....thought I was trying a beer brewed in Japan.
On the bottle though, it says: Brewed under Kirin's supervision by Anheuser-Busch in Los Angeles or Williamsburg, VA"

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Photo of matuto
2.74/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

355 ml bottle, exp. 08/2016, brewed in Brazil. I poured it in a pilsner glass. Yellow and clear liquid with tons of carbonation, with a bubbling white foam that leaves some laces. Nice aroma of fresh hops, despite not very strong. Some skunk off notes showed up after a while. Flavor is disappointing, no interesting notes whatsoever. A plain white sugar note may be felt in the last sips. Mouth feel is overwhelmed with carbonation. It has moderate bitterness, which at first is all that stays on mouth, giving a not well balanced result. Light to watery body. I will put more effort in not getting another of this for a longer period of time, as it ain't that cheap in my area.

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Photo of TheBierdimpfe
3.32/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bright pale straw color with lots of pearly activity. Foamy white 2 finger head, lasting around 5 minutes, with fiant lacing. Flavors of corn, sweet grains, rice, lemon, red liquorice. Good sharpness with lots of sugars, not too syrupy and doesn't feel too adjunct. Slick and smooth medium body with prickly and crispy carbonation. Light finish, slightly dry rice feel, lingering roasted malts, and slightly skunky. Very crispy and the malt is of good quality. Accessible and refreshing in a hot summer day. Decent flavors, well intensified, and balanced. Overall good quality craft.

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Photo of Squire123
2.34/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

The rising Sun also sets.

I've had this one just enough to form an opinion, which is either I'm missing the subtlety or there really isn't much there. Light colored, light flavored food beer that tries hard not to give offense and doesn't.

Worth trying.

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Photo of SurferEric
4.48/5  rDev +69.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This review is not intended to be compared to any craft beer of the style, it is intended to compare with AALs that flood the market. Kirin and Pabst are my go to's as far as cheap beer goes that I like to enjoy after a few truly good beers once taste isn't my number 1 priority and I'll admit it helps that i can get a case of bottles for $14.

Plus, considering its brewed by Anheuser, it kicks the shit out of Bud.

Cheers to the beers that keep you from going broke!

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Photo of bwood06
3.09/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass

A - Moderately heavy pour produces a head that is 1 finger high and is white in color. The head is a light froth and dissipates rather slowly to an ultra thin lacing. The beer itself is clear and a bright light golden hue that seems to glow. Carbonation appears to be moderate in nature with bubbles rising moderately paced towards the surface. 4/5

S - The beer gives off a major grassy hop profile from a distance but then as the nose comes closer to the beer the sweetness of the beer settles in with notes of sweet corn, light cereal malt, and a very light caramel. Very clean and light smelling. 3/5

T - The first 2/3 of the tasting profile is rather sweet. Sweet corn, light cereal malt, and a bit of caramel provide a rather heavy does of sweetness, although it is not overpowering by any means. A bit of buttered biscuit comes out as the beer warms. Grassy hops show up on the very back end of the flavor but really do not provide much flavor, this is more of an undertone. Little to no bitterness and certainly no lingering bitterness. 3/5

M - Light bodied and crisp with a bit of smooth creaminess at times. Very light carbonation tickle up front. Slight drying on the back end which lingers slightly after swallowing. 3.25/5

O - Not near as bad of a beer as I would have expected based on the scores here on BA. Goes to show you that no matter how bad the reviews and scores, you might as well try it anyway so you know for sure. Good beer to pair with food, especially sushi. Unbalanced with a heavy lean towards sweet but still nice and light even with this sweetness. 3/5

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Photo of rarigney
2.41/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I tried this beer many years ago on a visit to Tokyo, so my review is solely from memory. I was not at all impressed. An average to poor representation of the style.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
1.7/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 2.25 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

Straw yellow, white head 3/4", vanishes quickly. Aroma was that muted corn and rice sweetness.

Taste was as the nose went, not hoppy, not barley, just some cutter ingredients. Lots of carbonation and a thin body.

I dunno if I've had this since Oct. 2010, furthermore, "all malt" means . . . it could still be less than 100% barley, thats for sure.

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Photo of PlutonowyManiek
2.57/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Color: light yellow, clear, white, good-sized head.
Quite pleasant aroma, crisp floral notes and delicately fruity.
The taste is far worse, a lot of soap, light malt.
The loading medium toward high. high watery.

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Photo of EMH73
2.78/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Quite an unremarkable beer, but it does go well with sushi. Most Japanese restaurants I have been to have very poor beer selections so this tends to be my go to beer with sushi.

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Photo of Tele
3.08/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Serving Type: Can (Dated 10.20.15)
Consumed: 1.19.16

A: 4.25 Pours a clear, yellow-gold with an airy, off-white head. Carbonation looks nice, but not much in the way of head retention or lacing.

S: 3 Starts off quite sweet, smelling of corn, grain, and candy with very mild hops in the background. As the beer warms, some fresh baked bread comes through making the aroma slightly pleasant.

T: 2.75 Starts off sweet and gradually fades into nothingness. Some mild grain and corn from the nose, but really lacks flavor. The finish has a slight, grassy bitterness.

M: 4 Definitely an easy-drinking beer with nice carbonation. The finish is kind of sticky feeling, not making the next sip very desirable.

O: 3 Definitely not the worst larger out there, but pretty flavorless and what flavors/aromas that are present are not that great and reminiscent of most AALs.

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Photo of msmith13773
1.48/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

This stuff is really awful. I drink it on occasion when I am in Japan, and I buy it once in awhile at the Japanese market in San Jose when it's really cheap, but it's really nothing more than a back-up beer when I am out of anything drinkable and don't feel like going out to buy more.

Really a bad beer amongst other bad beers in Japan. They don't have micro brews there; only macro brews, so they drink what's available.

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.09/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Number one? From the bottle, it poured golden into the glass with a small head. Not much to the nose, and very mild in flavor to me, with a slight aftertaste. Went well with the sushi.

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Kirin Ichiban from Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
2.64 out of 5 based on 1,788 ratings.
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