Kirin Ichiban | Kirin Brewery Company, Limited

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
584 Reviews
Read the review
Kirin IchibanKirin Ichiban

Brewed by:
Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
Japan | website

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 584 | Ratings: 1,752
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

 266 characters

Photo of Artisan-Korea
3.9/5  rDev +47.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice for mass produced beer. Tried the original Japan made version, there are other country specific origins but when having to taste review do the original?

 163 characters

Photo of Thisdrinkinglife
3.75/5  rDev +42%

Review: Can of Kirin Ichiban Pale Lager, 5%ABV

Kirin Ichiban, my first time having a Japanese beer, was impressive on its first showing. In general it was pretty nice and quite drinkable

On pouring, the appearance was of a pale yellow colour with a very big creamy head that lingers for some time, and leaves a bit of lacing on the glass. Had a nice look to it.

Aroma: A pleasant sweet smell of a light grain and malt aroma.

A nice light beer to drink and went down easy enough.

The taste had some initial sweetness followed by a very enjoyable bitter aftertaste of hops, kind of creamy. Tastes of hay, wheat, and light floral hops.

A good clean, crisp beer, smooth, I liked it. Recommended for someone who is looking for a nice light beer to relax with

 765 characters

Photo of JackieKu
3.16/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

350ml can.

A: Clear, golden. Poured with much foam but soon it collapsed.
S: Somewhat sweet notes. Little grainy.
T: Light malty sweet.
M: Light bodied. High carbonation.
O: A delicious macro-lager.

 199 characters

Photo of KYGunner
2.5/5  rDev -5.3%

Despite the claim of 100% malt this smells like an adjunct lager. Corny, with bubblegum sweetness there is some barley malt aroma.

The flavor tastes like an adjunct as well. Very corny, sweet and some grain it's easy to drink but I'd dispute the malt claim.

As far as Japanese beers go I find this to be less attractive than Sapparo but better than Asahi.

 357 characters

Photo of classixIII
3.19/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Ok I rated this awhile ago but was working in the yard this weekend and needed refreshment bad. Lo and behold there was a 24 ozer in the back of the beer fridge that looked like it would fit the bill. That thing was canned in April 2012 and I think It was a leftover from the beach vacation later that same year. It said best within 180 days so I figured should still be good 3 years later. To my amazement it tasted no different to me than if I had just picked it up that afternoon. Went down smooth as hell and the desired effect was achieved.

Really, it's not awful.

 572 characters

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

Kirin Ichiban - Kirin Brewery Company, Limited. Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, this brew's got no head or lacing, mild carbonation, and a clear medium gold body.

Smells like banana esters, and that's pretty much it.

It tastes very malty, yet clean and smooth

Mouthfeel is very crisp.

Overall a 3 for Kirin Ichiban - Kirin Brewery Company, Limited. I may buy this brew again, but I highly doubt it.

 426 characters

Photo of titvs
2.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Review based on the BJCP2008 guidelines (style 1C). Bottle 33 cl - Batch unknown. AROMA: sweet and grainy (corn like) malt aroma. very faint hop aromas. APPEARANCE: gold color and very clear. thin white head with low persistance. TASTE: dry flavour with low malt sweetness. low bitterness. PALATE: thin body with low carbonation. OVERALL: yet another diluted pale lager that doesnt impress.

 390 characters

Photo of nicholas2121
4/5  rDev +51.5%

Kirin Ichiban brewed by Kirin Brewery Company Limited with an ABV of 5.0% This brew pours out a nice amber color with a small white head. This brew has the look of an American Lager. The smell is sweet with some grans and hops. So far the is nothing bad about this brew. The taste is bold with flavor but it has a smoothness to it. They did a nice job with this one I really like this one. There is nothing over powering in this brew it has a nice balance to it. The mouthfeel is nice clean and crisps. Overall I'm giving this brew a 4 out of 5. I would buy this brew again. This was better than what I was expecting.

 630 characters

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.

 2,078 characters

Photo of DaveBar
2.51/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at the LCBO as a single. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens ok. Pours like a North American mass produced beer

S- Not much here just like a mass produced North American beer

T- Not much here just like a mass produced North American beer

M- Not much here just like a mass produced North American beer

O- Just like a mass produced North American beer

Food Pairing

This beer will pair with anything you would have a Bud or Miller with.


 466 characters

Photo of CalgaryFMC
2.54/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Bottle poured into a glass at a Japanese restaurant in Calgary. Label indicates "100% Malt" and also describes the contents as one of the world's most unique beer drinking experiences. Um, OK. I will concur that the color is unique for the style, an almost mango yellow-orange with a light spattering of white bubbles. Aroma nearly non-existent except for a generic graininess tempered by just a dollop of bread-like sweetness. Taste is similarly grainy and quite astringent, faintly sour with very subtle grape and custard notes. Some buttery yeast peeks in and out as well. Rather bitter and not in a particularly positive way, the hops are coarse and some floral notes do little to diminish this effect. Uber-carbonated of course. What tannins are present at least serve to provide some flavor. Ugh. It is perhaps unfair to single this particular brew out, but whenever I go to an Asian restaurant (and I love Asian food) I feel the need to try something "local" and frankly its just depressing that this sort of thing still dominates folks' beer schemas across damn near the entire world. I shall have to bust out something Hitachino this weekend to restore my faith.

 1,171 characters

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...

 563 characters

Photo of BeerLovinWoman87
2.09/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Kirin was one of the first beers I tried. I haven't had one in many months, so I decided to see what it tasted like now that I have tried other beers.

This beer has almost no flavor. It pours a pale yellow with a quickly fading head. If I had wanted yellow water I would have drank a bud light. Definitely not worth the price, and not as good as I remember.

 401 characters

Photo of puboflyons
2.78/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle marked 07JAN14 so this may be a bit old as I am sampling it on May 16, 2014.

It looks like the style should with a pale yellow color building up to an enormous white fizzy head that lingers for some time.

I picked up a brown bottle but it had that green bottle skunkiness, which was a disappointment. However, on second sniff I do pick up a modest sweet malt character and a clean crisp hope bite.

Light body.

The taste expresses itself a bit better than the aroma with a notable barley and pale malt character kicking in. Sweet. Clean, crisp finish. Easy to drink. It is not as bad as all that.

 626 characters

Photo of Eric_Standard
2.65/5  rDev +0.4%

A very mild beer, very light flavour and mouthfeel, almost watery. Nice crispness and pretty fresh. It went well with semi-spicy sushi, but I wouldn't drink it on it's own.

 172 characters

Photo of Foyle
2.92/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 oz bottle into pint glass.
Appearance: pours a 1+" white head which quickly recedes with little to no lacing. Color is clear pale straw with moderate streaming carbonation.
Aroma: yeasty bread dough, lightly toasted barley malt and some grassy/herbal hop.
Mouthfeel: light and slick with a quite dry finish.
Flavor: cracker, sweet barley malt, grassiness, bitter herbs.
Overall: a decent and enjoyable lager, but not outstanding.

 449 characters

Photo of IronLover
2.94/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bright yellow in color with excellent clarity. Poured with a short, bright white foam that maintained fairly well. Light bready malt and earthy grain aromas with no hint of hops. On the lighter side of medium bodied with refreshing, fuzzy carbonation through the middle. Light biscuity malt flavors up front with a light, bitter tanginess through the middle. Finished with a stale bready aftertaste.

 399 characters

Photo of jjamadorphd
3/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

I've had this beer several times over the years, but have finally gotten around to trying it again and it a rating. Not much to say about this brew as it doesn't entirely impress, but to be fair it's not altogether that bad. Appearance-wise, there's no head or lacing to mention and it's color if fairly common. The odor is not bad - it's has the normal scents of barley and yeast - but not overpowering. Mouthfeel was mostly carbonation - it felt a bit water as well to me and taste-wise it was okay - just like a rated it (and I gave it a plus-up in the overall category since it did taste pretty decent.

 606 characters

Photo of Dave128
2.74/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into pint glass.

A - Clear filtered yellow with no head.

S - Grassy malt

T - Relatively clean but nothing special at all

M - Crisp and refreshing

O - Nothing special in this "100% malt" beer. Would like to see something special for the exotic beer price.

 286 characters

Photo of djura
2.66/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Golden color. One finger white foam,nicely settle down after minute. Few bubbles.

S - Really nothing to exited. Usual rubbish smell for bad lagers.

T/M - Drinkable,a bit. Lots of carbonation,pale malt a lot. Some pleasant sweetness. Maybe touch of fruits or flower.

O - Very close to be one of the usual pale lagers,which is not so good,but it have some touch of decent lager.

 383 characters

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

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

Look: Perfectly clear golden body that holds up a white fizzy head momentarily. The head recedes to a white ring around the edges. No lacing at all.

Aroma: Sweet malts and a newspaper kind of aroma.

Taste: A biting, metallic start, then a sweet malty body. A slightly sour finish.

Mouthfeel: Clean, kind of creamy.

Overall: Very forgettable like most other beers in this style.

 416 characters

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

Bottling date: 01DEC13

Pale yellow body with a fizzy, white head. Faint malt smell with a dried grass note. Light biscuit flavors with a mild bitterness at the finish. Light bodied; crisp and dry; rather fizzy.

A lightweight all-malt lager that just doesn't pull anything together. Drinkable but pretty nondescript and blasé.

 328 characters

Photo of Gargamel23
2.46/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Saw this here beer advertised something fierce at my local sushi/ sashimi joint. I was struck by the labeling, particularly the logo, and it inspired my to do some research. As it turns out the logo depicts, get this, a Kirin, some Japanese dragon deer creature that bring good fortune, as much of their mythical creatures are want to do. But anyway this irked may fancy and I decided to order one along with the delicious sushi dinner. When the nice Japanese waitress took my order she gave me a look I didn't quite comprehend. She returned and poured for me a nice tall glass of what my Gaijin brain could only comprehend as an underwhelming Budweiser. "Surely this must be some test of my cultural enlightenment!" I surmised, so i began to chow down all the while wondering why the hell anyone would wish to pair this lackluster lager with that exalted Japanese dish of raw fish.

Eventually my Korean companion explained to me why I had become the proverbial horses-ass in the eyes of our server. Kirin Ichiban is essentially a staple in Japanese beer culture much the same way Colt-45 malt liquor is in ours. Something one slams down without remorse or effort in the process of getting absolutely smashed. Brewed for good times indeed I wish he had explained this beforehand as I would have just ordered eight of them with some tempura and gone to town.

But anyway, the beer itself is nothing special, leaving my to trust the debriefing from my companion. A nice golden color to give no doubt to its claim of 100% Malt. That distinctly frat house smell, not repulsive but certain to bring about memories of hangovers past. A smooth passing past the tongue with a taste of relatively little other than a slight bittery finish. I doubt I will ever again buy this beer on merit alone, but should I ever find myself in the far East with a need to get wrecked beyond imagination, I will certainly know where to turn.

 1,919 characters

Photo of MarkoNm
3.34/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Another Asian lager, which are in general pretty nice and quite drinkable. And Kirin is no exception to this.
Pours with a clear golden color and an average white foamy head.
There are grassy hops in the aroma, which is slightly dusty but otherwise pretty weak.
There is some initial sweetness followed by a very pleasant bitter hoppiness. The aftertaste is also slightly bittery which is all very nice and enjoyable. A nice effort.

 433 characters

Kirin Ichiban from Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
2.64 out of 5 based on 1,752 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!