Kirin Ichiban | Kirin Brewery Company, Limited

590 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: 590 | Ratings: 1,781
Photo of jreitman
1/5  rDev -62.1%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Skunky smells. Tasted like a macro with something amiss. Ended up pouring the beer down the drain after a quarter of a glass. The bottle very well may have gone bad. Will re-evaluate.

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Photo of Vylo
1.05/5  rDev -60.2%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Got a bottle from the local liqour store since I remember having a Kirin beer a few years ago and it being pretty good.

This was most certainly not the beer I remember.

This beer has the appearance of urine, and it goes downhill from there, when you smell and taste it. The mouthfeel was the best part, and that isn't say much.

Avoid this beer at all costs. They couldn't pay me to drink it again.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
1.08/5  rDev -59.1%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Pale yellow body, not much head, just a film of loose bubbles on the top. Not particularly inspiring.

Nose is a sickly sweet grainy smell, with a hint of something slightly rancid. It smells a bit like a rubbish bin that's been left in the sun. This is a really disgusting smelling beer.

The taste is again, very sweet and cloying. Leaves a rather unpleasant sugary taste in your mouth. There's no bitterness there to create some sharpness; it makes you feel sick in your stomach. Mouthfeel is watery. Truly awful.

This is an atrocious beer. I mean really, really awful. One of the worst beers I've ever tasted. Offensive and undrinkable. I cannot recommend enough that you stay away from this shit.

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Photo of lester619
1.09/5  rDev -58.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Oh Good Lord this is bad. I can't even remember why I had it in my fridge. Someone must have left it there. So this might not be the freshest example, but I honestly can't believe that would make a differance. It doesn't look as bad is tastes. There's a positive. Smell is hard to explain. Like grainy vinegar, pickle brine soy sauce kind of thing. Soy sauce that expired in your fridge eighteen months ago. The taste is similar, dry, bitter in the worst way possible. Not a hop presance, just burning chemical bitter. Theres a very unpleasant metalic aftertaste. I get that soy sauce thing again. To quote Ralph Wiggum, "It tastes like...burning." I couldn't come close to putting all twelve ounces in me. There are no redeaming qualities to this beer.

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Photo of ngandhi
1.15/5  rDev -56.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1


This is not a Japanese beer. I know, you're in the beer aisle and you want to try something new. You see Kirin Ichiban -- the foreign name, the dragon on the bottle, the medium price -- and wonder how you've not seen this "premium" beer before. And what's this? Something about "first cold press"? Could this be akin to Anchor Steam? Perhaps it's an ancient method of brewing brought back from the dead. So enticing . . .

Read the fine print: this stuff is bottled by Busch in L.A. I didn't see it until I got home. Even with true imports you have you be careful (e.g. Tusker, Taj Mahal), but when a beer pretends to be something it's not, throw it out.

It pours a straw haze with a thick head that calls on you to sniff. If you do, you'll notice intense aromas of rice, corn, rotten sprouts, rotten everything. This is Budwesier taken to a whole other level of skunk. As there is a Bud Light, Kirin Ichiban is a Bud Extreme that I doubt even the most loyal of Bud drinkers could tolerate.

Silly me. My girlfriend wanted to try 3Floyds Robert the Bruce Scottish, but I suggested this because I was drinking so much 3Floyds at the time and wanted something new. Listen to your women, they know what's good for you.

I actually finished one bottle. The finish is VERY long and miserable with this beer. That crap just sits on your tongue. I couldn't rinse it out with water and you will NEVER forget the smell. I couldn't drink for a week after this.

This beer is worse than Coors, worse than Natty, worse than Bud because at least those other wastes of time don't decieve you and do try their best to mellow the artificiality of their flavor. For some reason, Kirin Ichiban takes pride in producing faux-Japanese asparagus-urine beer.

This is the worst beer of all time.

Also try: car exhaust, used cigarette filter extract, castor oil

Relax, relax, enjoy.

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Photo of laituegonflable
1.17/5  rDev -55.7%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Well I've reviewed this one quite unfavourably from a bottle, but the Dolphin Hotel has this baby on tap so I thought what the hell, let's give it the benefit of the doubt. (Long story short: DO NOT MAKE THIS SAME MISTAKE)

Pours quite well, has a dense fizz running up the inside that balloons out in a mushroom cloud kind of effect. The head is, though, kind of thin. Pale and lagery looking, but with an interesting-looking effect.

Smells like a sweaty armpit. Salty and horrible. What's more, it's simple. Bland, and whatever's there is horrible. Yeah, really bad smell.

Oh. My. God. I'm an Australian, and Carlton United are ubiquitous where I live, and so I'm used to yeast on the front of the palate. But I had NO IDEA it could LINGER. That's all there is to this drink. It's just cloying yeast that sticks to the roof of your mouth and just stays there - that's the only flavour to mention here. You seriously might as well just culture some yeast in some warm water and drink it. This is terrible, there's no more to say.

The mouthfeel is sticky and although there was a lot of head when I first looked at this it doesn't come through, it's frankly very very flat. But I'm grateful for this, actually, because considering the taste this could be a lot stickier in mouthfeel.

Drinkability? It ISN'T DRINKABLE. Enough said.

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Photo of AlexLMS
1.21/5  rDev -54.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

This is my first Japanese beer and I honestly did not like it.

Kirin Ichiban poured with an almost straw color. The head was white, moderately low, foamy and presenting a poor retention. Very clear.
An unpleasant nose that had notes of artificial candy.
The taste was very adjuncty with strong rice notes, no hoops and only slightly bittering.
It was a quite gassy beer with low alcoholic strength and a light and watery body.
The finish is too short to be noticed.
Overall, it was characterless, bland and empty. Not a chance it will pass through my throat again.

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Photo of Rifugium
1.23/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

First had: bottle at Birdland Jazz Club, NYC, NY

For some reason, I thought this was not too bad for a pale lager/pils type beer. But I'd probably never get it again unless I had no choice.

Pours a thin golden yellow color with a fizzy white head that all but dissipates. Mulched grass aroma, and a slight sensation of hops detectable. Overall skunked, but crisp to the point where it doesn't leave an unbearable aftertaste. Grass and stale grains. Light, thin body and not much flavor. There are good light / pale beers out there, but this isn't one of them.

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Photo of dikebrewery
1.26/5  rDev -52.3%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.25 | overall: 1.25

Sooo to date this is the worst beer I have ever drank. If it's your thing I say to each their own. Very malty and a bit of rancid bitterness. Perhaps I got a bad beer and Kirin isn't as bad as the one I had. I'll never know because I won't be ordering it again EVER

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Photo of rye726
1.33/5  rDev -49.6%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

This brew reminds me more of Mexico than Japan. It is a clear yellow color with a middling white head. The taste and nose are light but skunky. I find old grassy hops and ricey malts. The body is light and overly carbonated. Not the most drinkable brew due to multiple factors.

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Photo of tjd112
1.34/5  rDev -49.2%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Presentation - Poured into pint glass

Appearance - Yellow body, slightly less pee looking than your average adjunct lager, fizzy head that leaves some lacing

Smell - Almost nothing at all, faint riciness

Taste - Tinny with a hint of rice

Mouthfeel - Like water

Drinkability - Could barely get through one

Overall - Ick!!

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Photo of quikfish13
1.35/5  rDev -48.9%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

My very first Japanese beer. So I shall so this entire review as if I was an anime character. OKAY!!

A: Oh no! The fizzy yellow is attacking! With no head and clear golden color we must use powers of great smell to counteract it!

S: OH NO!! We have failed again as bitter vegetable smell with no hops! AHH! Taste is to surely save us!

T: Drat! Foiled again by the inferior taste compared to beer that actually tastes like beer!. Still getting bitter vegetable tastes and no hops or malt flavor to speak of!

M: Watery to the extreme!! Feels like I drink water that get you drunk with no carbonation to speak of!

D: We are doomed!! American consumer should rather spend less money on Bud light rather than drink this! Ahhh!!!

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Photo of avalon07
1.35/5  rDev -48.9%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This is a pretty rotten beer. Tastes just like any old American macrobrew, that is to say, it had no taste at all. It's very much like Budweiser in all respects: Light appearance, muted and unimpressive smell and no discernible taste. Should definitely be avoided.

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Photo of rickyleepotts
1.38/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 1.75 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 1.25

I am not too excited about this beer. I have had it several times before, but usually order it when we eat. Ra Sushi carries this. It's boring, but it was fun learning about the brewing process. It was also fun learning that this is the most expensive beer in the world. I mean… not literally. But in regards to the brewing process. I also didn't realize they had high taxes in Japan. The more you know!

I am not eating with this. I had a turkey wrap earlier today, but I felt bloated after I ate. Not sure I am going to have dinner. It's weird, because my last three meals I have felt horrible… bloated and really full regardless of what I eat. Maybe I need to stop eating. I did gain weight last week. I'm a mess. Let's drink!

In the Glass: It looks like any domestic beer you have ever had. The beer does have a nice white head that lingers, and then a decent lace as the head settles. I am seeing a ton of bubbles in this one, too. I would see more, but Sheryl turned the light out. She must hate lights!

When we review a beer, I put more focus on my experience with the beer. Speaking of beers, we have over 30 beers in the kitchen to review. I told Sheryl I am not buying any more beer until all of those have been reviewed and consumed! Here's to a few weeks of good craft beer.

Nose: They use maize in this, which makes me think of a rise IPA. With a rice IPA, you get more mellow flavors, and a polished almost fluffy mouthfeel. I hope that is what they mean by "chewiness". In regards to the aroma, not much going on. I love how the tasting notes will drop words like "citrus" and "green apple". I am not getting any of that. Grass before green apple. I doubt it, but I hope the flavor delivers.

Flavor: It didn't. This beer is pretty boring. There isn't much flavor at all. It is VERY drinkable; I will give it that. But this isn't a beer that I would order again. I take that back… if I am having sushi for lunch or dinner, I might order this. But even though this beer is made with 100% malt, I am not impressed with it at all.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel does remind me a of wild rice IPA. I wouldn't call it chewy, but it has a nice fluffy thing going for it. I tried to swish this around a little but, but got hit with a ton of bubbles. Doing that also made me taste the alcohol in it… which didn't help the overall experience. I am glad that beers like this are on our list, but the education is the only thing that I can appreciate. I don't care how they brew it, this beer just isn't very good.

Aftertaste: If there is anything to write home about here, it's the aftertaste. If I did write home, it wouldn't be a long letter. There is a subtle dryness in the finish, but it's a dryness that leaves me wanting to drink something else. I am not sure how big the craft beer industry is in Japan, but they are missing out if this is a beer they are known for. Like I said, this pairs well with food… but that's about it. Unless you are eating, skip it. You can thank me later!

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Photo of Germanstylefan7896
1.4/5  rDev -47%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Lousy, piss like color and flavor. Also a big headache beer. Last time I had it it was brewed in Canada, pretending to be Japanese. If your at a Japanese place try to find something much better, even mass produced Thai beers.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
1.41/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Weak yellow color, no head, but somehow there was lace left on the glass. Aroma was lacking, had some of the blandness of rice and crap vegetable beer, mixed with the efficiency of an industrial area and boiling water (metal, hydraulic fluid).

More of the same in the taste, cooked rice and frozen veggies, the shitty kind, that is like chock full of lima beans. Extremely thin body amounting to nothing in terms of taste from a positive standpoint.

I can't think of any scenario where I would recommend this. No wait, mortal enemies.

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Photo of Utica_Brew_Review
1.42/5  rDev -46.2%
look: 1.75 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Light straw appearance. Not much aroma. Tastes like a fruity floral carbonated lager. Tastes almost like a light beer--tastes like beer. Remember college? No depth at all. Finishes as it starts. Moderately carbonated. Pretty much no real redeeming qualities that we can write of.

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Photo of Fatheranderson
1.44/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

The pinnacle of what a "premium" beer should avoid being. It tastes kind of like that shredded wheat breakfast cereal in beer form... in fact, I use the term "beer" very lightly, and crave forgiveness for using it on such an inferior malt beverage.

Appearance: looks just like ever other generic lifeless brew on the market. Golden yellow with just a basic hint of carbonation. No life, no spark, no fizzle.

Smell: Shredded wheat. No seriously. It smells just like the breakfast cereal, but with soured milk. Maybe even a hint of rotting corn or rice or something unholy...

Taste: Cardboard, that shredded wheat again (actually, don't get me wrong, I love shredded wheat. It's a great cereal. Unfortunately, it's a terrible malt beverage). Also, it seems to taste vaguely like a penny I ate when I was 5... It's in a bottle, it's not supposed to taste like metal!!

Mouthfeel: Water. Water with some syrup in it...

Overall: Wouldn't buy it if it was the last beer on earth. At that point, I'd actually consider switching to wine (consider is the key word... I'd more than likely just figure out how to brew my own). This stuff is the Japanese equivalent of Budweiser or Coors... though somehow worse because I expected better out of Japan...

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Photo of Noxious26
1.45/5  rDev -45.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

355ml bottle poured in a dimpled mug.

Clear, straw yellow in colour. Lots of carbonation streams. White head is 1/4 inch on the pour, but quickly disappears. Practically no head after one sip.

Aroma is like a macro lager: grainy and laden with adjuncts with a slightly sour background.

Bland and astringent with a caustic, bubbly mouthfeel. Dry grainy aftertaste.

As I'm wondering why the hell I'm drinking this, I read the label and find out that this is actually brewed in the USA by Anheuser-Busch. There is also a production date in very small print in the bottom left hand corner of the label (12May05) Yikes, 7 month old beer. Had this happen a couple times in the last batch of singles. Guess I better start looking more carefully. I don't think the age has hurt or helped it. There's no skunk at all, but I still can't drink this. Drain pour.

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Photo of hardy008
1.47/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Pale yellow with a large foamy white head with good retention and lacing. Has a skunk aroma, with cooked vegetables. Nasty.

The taste has cooked vegetables, some floral hops, and something is off. Reminds me a bit of skunk, but not as much as the aroma.

Light bodied, plenty of carbonation, putrid aftertaste which makes me wish I never tried this. Not sure if this is a bad bottle, or if it usually tastes like this. At any rate, not good.

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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 slitherySOB
1.48/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

This is a very pale beer. The palest yellow I have ever seen! Reminds of water mixed with a very small amount of lemonade. Doesn't even have a bit of gold or urine colour, just a very pale yellow. And no head. Lots of lace, but no head. Bland smell. I cannot stress how bland this smells. Rice is the dominant scent, but it's still very faint. Some kind of grass smell as well. Could it be hops? Tastes like a low budget Budweiser when cold. Rice adjunct, white bread taste. Obvious thirst quencher, but only when cold. And I mean ice cold. Cuz as this liquid warms, it gets nasty. A horrible, cardboard taste that's surprisingly and terribly sour. And another flavour that is bad. Bitter? Yeah. But not the good bitter. This is a bad bitter. Don't know what makes it a bad bitter, but it is. No hops detected. Then again, my tongue has been bombarded with this awful taste that it can't even detect the spicyness of my meal after I drank this. But it is okay when cold, so I'll give it an extra half point for that. Mouthfeel is very flat. Very little carbonation. My toilet water has more carbonation after I fart taking a crap. Drinkable like water when cold. Undrinkable at any other temperature. This has to be near absolute zero before I could ever touch this again.

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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 Kevin_Langford
1.55/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 2 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.75

I tried this beer while my wife and I went out for sushi. I hadn't tried it and lately I've been trying more and more beers that I've always assumed aren't my preference without trying them. So, needless to say, I got one. This beer was the Japanese equivalent of a Bud Light or Natural Light. It was a light, golden color with a lot of carbonation. The foam head quickly disappeared after pouring into a glass. The smell left a lot to be desired, as did the taste. It didn't have a strong flavor to me, and the aftertaste was a little bitter in my opinion. I probably won't get this one again.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
1.55/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

After the Kirin Lager last night, I put off trying this other offering from the land of the Rising Sun, as long as I possibly could. Unfortunately it was only for 24 hrs. Because every time I opened my fridge door, I was continually faced with the screams & yells of “shame on you!” & “it’s a bloody disgrace!” from the gathering of well-organised Stone Bombers forced to share the same fridge. As the Stone gathering was led by the very angry & gargoylian ‘Double Bastard’ doing an impression of a mad Jimmy Hoffa – it was time to put the Stones out of their mystery & remove the offending Bottle of Ichiban that was cowering in the corner of the fridge - and Review it.

As with the Lager, it comes in a 21.4 fl.oz (63.3 cl) brown glass Bottle, a size straight from the design school of Billy Beta-Max again.

Pours with a reasonable head at first, but this surrenders fast, and collapses to a very thin disappointing pond scum white head. A ring of white hope clings to the edge of the Glass in defiance but even that eventually disappears. A yellow golden looking fluid that reminded me of the one bottle of continually watered-down lemon washing up liquid I used as a poor student for 2 years. Piss poor appearance, quite literally.

Aromas are awful. Sour, damp musty wet rotting corn as others have rightly said. This is offset by the drenched cardboard smells thankfully.

Mouthfeel is less than the last gasp of air I just took.

Initial tastes are of old coins that I used to put in my mouth when a child. This metallic taste increases in strength in the middle, but elevates itself to the “tinkle” experienced when licking food off a well-worn old silver-plated spoon. I detected that the brewer once shook hands with someone who once touched a hop-plant, though the low concentrations in the beer were not detectable by the Mass Spectrometer at the nearby University.

It took me a while to drink this. In the end, I just imagined that I was 12 years old again & down the woods near my house in England drinking from the One Can of "cheapest super non-premium" Beer that me & my five friends would save up all of our collective week’s pocket money for. Great days!

Kirin Ichiban is a mythical beast that is half deer & half dragon according to label. Well if I ended up in that mess, I would feel it appropriate to have this “half pseudo brew - half water” diuretic fluid named after me.

According to my free translator;
Kirin Ichiban is Japanese for, “don’t ****ing bother with this beer”.

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Kirin Ichiban from Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
2.64 out of 5 based on 1,781 ratings.
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