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 soulgrowl
3.2/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Golden, almost brassy, bold yellow, the color of roasted corn in some spots. Decent-sized white head with a soapy texture and not much in the way of retention.

Smell: Light malts and a flowery (dandelion) and citric (orange) fresh hop character with a bit of a Saaz-like spice. Not bad, but boring and kind of weak.

Taste: Not bad. Sweet with lots of corn and rice flavors and a pleasantly floral hop poke. Not too dry, not too sweet, actually quite well-balanced but bland.

Mouthfeel: Thin but moderately chewy and sticky, and a little syrupy in the finish.

Drinkability: I think I'd like some more! A good match for a variety of Japanese foods - sushi, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, tempura, ramen, etc. - just don't try it with anything too spicy.

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Photo of mghotbi
3/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle. Clear straw color with ample carbonation. Practically no head but lots of lacing. Says on the bottle it's brewed by AB in Los Angeles.

Some reviewers have commented on foul smell, but they must have had an old bottle. This sample smells like most macro lagers - nothing distinctively pleasant or foul - some grassy and pine aromas predominate.

Thin and watery mouthfeel with a bit too much carbonation. Probably would be quite refreshing on a hot sunny day, but we don't have those in San Francisco.

Taste is very light - fairly average macro lager - a bit of malt sweetness with some grassy tones. No real off-flavors, smooth dry finish with just a touch of citrus acidity.

Overall, another consistent but unchallenging macro lager. I see no real reason to order this over Bud or Bud Light at the local Sushi bar. Thankfully, I only paid a buck for a 22 oz bottle on sale.

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Photo of cheers2beers
1.83/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

The appearance is light straw colored with a rocky bright white head lots of beading inside. Aromas of grass and adjuct corn scents,along with some barnyard stench.Taste is corn and a subtle hop bitterness,not much alcohol detected.Has a crisp and watery flow about this one.I won't buy this again and would definitely NOT recommend.I've had much better Japanese beer.


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Photo of atigerlife
2.98/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Had on tap at a restaurant.

Poured a clear, golden color with little visible carbonation. A large, fluffy white head that had decent lasting power. Good amount of lacing.

A rather light, grainy aroma. Not much there. The taste was thin with some light hops. A paper taste to it.

Mouthfeel was very light and not cleansing.
Overall, nothing to get excited about, but not offensive. Clean and crisp, but lacking personality. Perhaps with some sashimi it could work. I've given it mostly "average" ratings based on the style, but certainly not a beer I will seek out for future consumption.

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Photo of clemtig76
2.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22 ounce bomber purchased at Piggly-Wiggly in Charleston, SC. I thought this would go good with some fresh boiled shrimp I was preparing. Boy was I wrong. Pours a pale golden yellow with a thin head that quickly dissipates. Aroma is of cut grass and hay. Taste is much of the same but there is some hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is too dry for my tastes. At least it was not a total loss, I can use the bottle for my homebrew.

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Photo of BigRedN
2.5/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From Notes:

Appearance: Poured for me into a glass mug. The beer had no head. Just a little foamy cloud and a ring around the glass. The beer is clear and gold.

Smell: Like the Saporro I had, this has an odd funky smell, only more so. I am beginning to think this smell comes from the rice (although I do not get this from a Bud, which is also made of rice, odd).

Taste: Thankfully there is almost no taste. Slight adjuncty sweetness, but mostly it is just off flavored water.

Mouthfeel: More thin and watery than other Japanese beers I have had, although that is splitting hairs a bit. Still it is well carbonated, crisp and lively.

Drinkability: It's drinkable, but if forced to chose a beer from Japan, I would probably pick something else.

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Photo of bonbright7
2.83/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I have enjoyed drinking Kirin Icibahn in the various luxury sushi bars on the north shore of Long Island and I have to say this particular bottle is OK. It's fresh with a foamy head and large bubbles that slowly disappear into the mass of creamy whiteness before I picked up the glass.

It tastes like Michelob Light out of a keg and it is obvious why the Japanese like it with sushi and sashimi: it will put out the fire caused by unexpected amounts of the infamous green playdough known as wasabi.

I could easily take down 6 of these and let my wife drive the Saab home afterwards. It's a great beer in the sushi bar setting or with a crawfish boil,
but after's okay.

The only real detraction is that it's brewed by Budweiser in Los Angeles and if you have been to LA, you know that the water quality there is not very good.

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Photo of Phatz
3.2/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer reminds me of Straub Light but with rice instead of corn. I am not very familiar with Japanese Rice Lagers. This is the first one I have ever had; but according to BA's description it seams to fit the style. It has the look of an American macro but the taste seems less 'dirty' than the big three. Very clean pleasant aftertaste as opposed to that bitter American beer.

Appearance: Crystal clear. It is so pale I hesitate to even call it a pale yellow orange because it is closer to clear than pale anything. Two figure white sudsy head that fades fast and leaves very little lacing.

Smell: Almost like smelling water. there is nothing there. With a huge amount of effort you may distinguish a little bit of stereotypical macro beer smell whether it is the rice or a hop character is unclear.

Taste: Very clean. Thin. Like drinking slightly flavored water that is just a bit sweetened. A little bit of rice and then a very nice clean dry finish. There is no immediate aftertaste but a few seconds later it comes back around to leave a sweet rice grain taste on the back of your tongue.

Mouthfeel: The same as water. With carbonation in it of course. It is a very crisp mouthfeel that is thin and light.

Drinkability: High! This is a beer that has a very low ABV. I'm not sure how low but I can't even tell its there. It is easy on the palate in the beginning middle and end. It is NOT interesting unique or complex but if you want to pound down a few after a hard day or want a beer for the yard work, this is definitely a suitable choice.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of Vancer
2.91/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

What we have here is the atypical Japanese macro brew – the ol’ clear, fizzy yellow pour, but with a small white head and minimal lacing. Aroma – what aroma, nada. Taste was full of corn & grains, although I did detect hints of an earthy and hoppy finish.

Packed with carbonation, it did have a fairly crisp bite to it. On tap, I had no problem finishing it, but there are too many other good offerings to sit with this one for more than a pint.

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Photo of shamus
2.43/5  rDev -8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a typical lager gold with a quickly vanishing head and almost no lace. The smell was a bit off putting. Not skunky but metallic. It actually tasted better than I thought it would, but I have to admit I was expect the worse. It didn't have much character but it would be okay if someone gave it to you at a bbq. I won't however recommend purchasing this beer. If this is the 'special reserve', I wonder what the regular fare tastes like. I won't be finding out too soon.

This baby was not from Japan but "a product of the USA Anheuser-Busch. Los Angeles". Technically still an import in Canada but the label leads you to think it's from Japan.

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Photo of Oxymoron
2.32/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer was on my list of sensory beers to try. Specifically this beer is to show trans-2-nonenal flavors.

The pour was a very lemony yellow color that was clear. A decent head that quickly dissipated but did hold around the edges. No lacing though.

The smell has a distinct cardboard aroma. The malty character smells pilsen with larger yeast scents. There are straw like esters in the background and some bittering hop aromas that seem earthy.

The taste is similar. A distinctive larger flavor with some rice tastes in the background. Noticeable cardboard esters. That should be from the trans-2-nonenal notes and becomes more dominate as the beer warms. It has a off touch skunky flavor that also becomes more and more noticeable as it warmed up as well. The hops have a German feel of haltaurer.

The body is light. Overall this is a little to skunky for my flavor but if you drink it cold it tastes better.

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Photo of BigBry
2.83/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Standard brown 355ml bottle, production date on botton left of label. Neck label proclaims 'imported beer', but a closer look reveals a product of USA, brewed by Anheuser-Busch, LA.
Thin and clear yellow-gold, thin white foam, no head retention. Basic grainy smell and taste of any other macro. May have a bit more maltiness and hop but not much, some sweetness, rice? I think. Crisp, bubbly, clean finish - it does a good job of removing the salty soy sauce when served with sushi.
Okay, but what makes it "Special Premium Reserve"?

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Photo of Drew966
1.6/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Purchased a 24 ounce can at the grocery store. Pours a pale yellow with a thick head. Very little aroma, very little taste, in a word its bland, even by American lager standards. The can says "Brewed under the strict supervision of Kirin's brewmaster by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Los Angeles, CA" Not recommended.

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Photo of clvand0
2.48/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at the local pub recently. Pours a very clear yellow color with a small white head that falls fast and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma is mostly grainy with a very faint hop scent. Not much there. The flavor just is not very good at all. Grainy flavors tend to be overpowering and there's nothing there to balance it. Few hops, low maltiness. Slightly more tasty than a normal macro lager, but that doesn't make it good.

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Photo of BEERchitect
2.21/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I think my fellow BAers are way to kind with this one. I think it's horrible beer; expecially since they try to pass it off as if it were a quality brew. Looks promising in the off set with a strong straw color and fluffy retention, but the aromas tell the tale. Smells quite grainy with the malts, light on the hops and with little character. Tastes of cereal grains everywhere with a modest barley malt flavor. All flavors are fleeting leaving a grain and husk flavor and texture. Aftertaste is similar to American Lite beers. In fact, this whole beer resembled American Lagers, but with twice the price. Not worth it.

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Photo of whynot44
2.83/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Light golden color with a moderate white head that disipates almost immediately to just a thin ring but still manages to produce a bit of lace.

The aroma is something like half-cured hay.

The taste is a bit thin, grainy, grassy and with just a hnt of caramel and carboard. The finish is slightly dry and carbonic with a lingering grassy aftertaste.

Crisp, light and refreshing as long as it's ice cold, similar to American mass market lagers.

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Photo of arguemaniac
2.68/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this one with some sushi during dinner. A grassy, grainy aroma with a touch of floral hops. The flavor is mostly grain with some caramel. The rice in this brew is quite noticeable, lending that distinct, grassy hay quality to the beer’s flavor. Some nice hop bitterness balances nicely. A fairly light mouthfeel with a pleasant carbonation tang.

My first of the style, not bad, but it reminds a bit too much of you average macro, adjunct lager. Still, recommended, if only for how light and refreshing it is.

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Photo of russpowell
2.38/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

There are surely worse beers out there, but my taste buds expect more out of a lager, but went out for sushi and it was this or bud..

Poured a straw-like color with a bubbly white head that held up well. Some lacing

Smell: Malty/fruitty and a trace of floral hops

Taste: Sweetness with not pleasant pricklyness on the tounge, some bitterness in the finish.

MF: A lot more malt please, thin & gassy

Taste: Shouldn't have ordered a 22 oz bottle the free water was going down better. Next time i'll get the sushi to go over chance the sapporro (sp?) or Asai, can't be any worse...

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Photo of BeerNutta
1.6/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Kirin Ichiban. Had this at a mates christmas party. Merry Christmas indeed.

A = Poured a golden yellow with a thin foam head. Looked great.

S = Like wet grass with a hint of hop. Mmmmm

T = Had a sweet sugar taste and an fake hop taste with some grass chucked in for grassy goodness.

M = Moderately carbonated. But left a grassy aftertaste.

D = Have I mentioned the grassy taste? Well that about sums it up. Ain't going to be drinking this in a hurry.

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Photo of cubedbee
3.08/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light straw yellow with a tons of carbonation, finger of bright white head, some small amount of lacing. Nose is very grainy, not much there but unoffensive. Taste is a light sweet caramel malt, slightly grassy, a slight bitter finish. Thin mouthfeel with a nice lively carbonation and a crisp finish. This is a simple lager, slightly better than American macros, easy enough to wash teriyaki down with.

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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 Gritsak
2.41/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- pale gold with a decent white head that dissapates to a film but does try its hardest to lace a little.

S- smells a little skunky. nothing really stands out.

T- watery and light. wouldnt be bad except it finishes really skunky, very similar to some crappy macros. finish also has a little hop bitterness before the skunk.

M- light and smooth.

D- if it wasnt for the nasty aftertaste it would be pretty easy to drink, but because of this drinkability is hurt.

overall- i wasnt expecting something good, but just something refreshing and easy to drink. what i got wasnt really either. the initial taste is pretty decent but it finishes with a nasty skunk flavor that ruins the beer.

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Photo of thesilverhand
2.55/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bright, clear yellow, with a white foam head. Enh.

Sweet, grainy malts. No complexity, but nothing off-putting. No hop aroma at all. There's a but of grassiness.

Mostly sweet, with a bit of straw-like grassiness. Quite bitter after the initial sweetness, but still no real hop profile. No complexity, but again, nothing bad either.

The mouthfeel is a bit strange. It's very highly carbonated and has an almost "sharp" feel on the palate. Almost painful, until it flattens a bit.

Overall, not worth drinking if you want good beer. As an easy-drinking beverage, it's not awful, though. Decent macro.

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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 kmpitz2
2.98/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a very clear strong yellow color with a 2 finger head that falls to a small coating over top. Nose is crisp. Light hop, very clean but without much else. Flavor is clean, big grainy, very modest noble hop. Its not all that bad. Feel is a light moderate with a moderate carbonation. Overall, a pretty okay beer. I'd take this over a macro any day.

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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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