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: 1,790
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of BucBasil
2.23/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

Drank from the 500mL can in Shanghai China.

Smells very sweet with only a bit of crackery malt and very little lemony hops.

Taste is pretty much nonexistent, aside from a slight dry bitterness in the finish. A touch of malt as it warms and some vegetal flavor. Otherwise basically just tonic water.

No real reason to get this beer. There is no taste and no satisfaction. Will not pick up again probably.

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Photo of colts9016
2.27/5  rDev -14%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

Review from notes.
Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: A two finger foamy head, that dissipates fairly quickly. The head left no lacing on the glass. The color of the beer is straw with pale yellow hues. The clarity of the beer is very clear with carbonation bubble present. The beer is similar to Budweiser.

Nose: Straw, grass, grain, and corn are most notable.

Taste: Straw, grass, yeasty, corn, and touch of citrus.

Mouth feel of the beer is carbonated and clean.

Overall: This is beer just lacks to much to make it worth while to drink.

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Photo of pkalix
1.99/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 2 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

clear, light urine colored. no head to speak of.
smells of urine. just kidding.... geez, just a crummy commercial brew smell....
taste is.... crummy commercial brew taste. why am I writing a review on this? it tasted alright at the sushi bar a few weeks ago, but tonight in a bottle, after a polish porter (even), this is just god-awful.... thank god it's 5% or i'd be dumping it,,, it may just still happen...
I realize I grade high. I realize I need to adjust my ratings. cant think of a better place to start than here....

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Photo of FLima
3.18/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This is a Pure malt version (not sure there are others).
Bright yellow golden color with a thin head with low retention.
Bready aroma with a hint of vanilla and floral hops.
Very smooth, but also crisp and clean flavor. Notes of floral and herbal hops on a bready malt base. Light touch of orange citrus. Dry and mildly bitter aftertaste.
Light body with good carbonation.
Drinkability that is hard to beat, that's what a mass driven brew could be to please all. Sure no thrills but with no off-flavors. Great session beer.

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Photo of spoony
2.86/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

On tap into a pint glass at Parallel 17 Restaurant in Denver.

A-My pint arrives with thin cap of white foam that settles quickly to a collar. The collar hangs around and leaves a bit of lacing on the glass. The brew is light-golden color, clear, and mostly lacking carbonation.

S-The smell is faintly sweet, with some corn, husk flavor, and a bit of popcorn. Nothing spectacular here, but not too far off from most macro style lagers.

T-The taste is also faintly sweet with husk and cooked corn. There is a bit of tinny metallic flavor, but less than many beers of the style. Very light grassy flavors on the finish.

M-The feel is softer than many lagers of the genre, but still pretty light in body. Drinkable.

O-This beer is not a good beer, but it pairs alright with sushi or other Japanese food, which is how I enjoyed it for this review. The flavors are semi-sweet and bland as you would expect for mass-brewed swill, but the metallic notes are turned down compared to many macro lagers, which is nice.

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

A companion beer to sushi, nothing more. Pours with a yellow, wheat color and easily foams, but the stark white head dissipates quickly. The aroma is sweet, with a similar taste. Heavy carbonation, with a mouth feel akin to inexpensive American Lagers.

Not a beer to drink standalone, as it leaves much to be desired in all facets.

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Photo of BWED
2.68/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

12 oz. bottle (Bottle on 12 June 2013 by Anheuser-Busch) poured into a trumpeted pilsner glass.

A- Crystal clear straw color, with a film of a white head. Retains poorly, but a swirl can scrounge up a little more foam.

S- There is a mild citrusy nose, with a bit of fruity apple. Slight straw malt subdued in the background.

T- The taste is sweeter than most lagers, yet there is still a hop character. A little bit of citrus, a little spice.

M- Mouthfeel is what to expect. Clean crisp. Some carbonation is felt going down. Slight dry finish.

O- Okay at best. Fruitiness is a little much for this style. Supposedly they don't sparge the mash in Japan, but who knows if AB follows suit in the US. I'd like to try it overseas.

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Photo of TheHammer
2.56/5  rDev -3%
look: 1.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Looks that pale yellow, typical of rice lager. Wait...this isn't rice lager? What the heck Kirin?! A fairly aggressive pour gave a half finger of head without lace or retention. Alt least the body boasts ample carbonation.

Smell: Uhh, smell? I'm catching a slight barley aroma and not much else. Warming brings out a slight corn note. Not a lot to see here.

Taste: Uhh Taste? Once again the beer falls a bit flat in this regard. It's not very often I have a beer where the earthy taste arrives at the start of the beer and departs for the taste of low roasted barley. That's it. Nothing else to see here.

Mouthfeel: It's not quite as smooth as a beer that has this low a flavour should have. The carbonation has a seltzer quality to it that doesn't really help the flavour of the beer. Apart from that, there's just not a lot here due to the lack of aftertaste.

Drinkability: A beer like this had better be drinkable, given the lack of other aspects. It's a little gassy, but it's the kind of beer you can just put back without any problem.

Final Thoughts: I can't up but think of the wrestling Curry Man when I see this beer, because Curry Man is ICHIBAN! Although seriously, this was a disappointment. There's not a lot to this beer. Nothing outrageously bad mind you, but nothing wondrous. Pass

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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 IchLiebeBier
3.25/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pale golden; effervescent; big frothy head, long lasting

Aroma: Malty; bready; grassy

Taste: Sweet juicy malt on start; zippy in the middle and a good balance of hops on the end; mouthfeel is almost like ginger ale; not bad overall; good thirst quencher/quaffing beer

Remarks: Drank this after a day of hard work; I was hot, tired and very thirsty; 650 ml bottle

Did not score A, T, S, M at that time; disregard those scores

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
3.06/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Pours a very clear golden color with a finger width carbonated head. Head retention is mild. Lacing is decent. Malty aroma with a sweet, fruity edge. Not really hoppy. Very watered, malty flavor with some sweetness. Light bodied with moderate to higher carbonation. This is my go to beer at Japanese restaurants but only because there is literally nothing else to choose from.

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Photo of delta490
2.34/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

Poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A- looks nice. Clear pale gold with a short lived fizzy white head (About one finger's worth). Not much carbonation visible.

S-Not much once the head goes down. Like, almost nothing not much.

T- again, not much bad good or in between. Slight bit of sweetness followed by a slight bit of bitterness. But nothing discernible or memorable in there at all.

M- For how little carbonation you see, it's pretty fizzy. But the body of it isn't bad.

O- there isn't anything to recommend this because there isn't anything there. Other than it looks like a lager. Everything else that makes a lager a lager is lacking.

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Photo of Andrew041180
2.78/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Not going to bother with a full review here. Very mediocre beer with a faint sweetness that I didn't particularly care for. Beer arrived with no head, minimal carbonation, and no retention. Not much smell here at all. Sad that this was the beat option available.

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Photo of Brenden
3.03/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

This one is a pale-medium yellow, somehow a bit bright but with a chill haze. A large enough clean white head is actually surprisingly dense, fluffy and creamy. It deposits sturdy patching well down the glass.
The smell isn't bad, it just isn't much. I'm assuming any rot/cabbage, etc., is due to bad batches; there's nothing offensive here. Sort of a leafy / woody thing is present against a nondescript sweetness. Bland would describe it, but not bad, per se.
Grains, the same nondescript sweetness, and a vinous note make up the flavor.
The feel is similarly bland, just a touch of crispness livening things up in this light-bodied brew. It's not as bad as a lot of what I've read.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.05/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a pale gold/yellow with minimal head and nice clarity. The nose comprises of faintly sweet malts, bread, corn, and a light hoppy grassy bitterness. Taste is again malty and a touch sweetness. Relatively clean flavor for the style, no off putting qualities that I typically find. Mouthfeel is light with high carbonation. Not a bad brew to pair with some sushi when it's all that available on the menu, but I'm certainly not going to seek this one out.

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Photo of John_Henry
2.53/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

Note: This is the Japanese version Brewed in Japan, and fairly fresh (Brewed in December drank in February). May vary if purchased outside of Japan.

A. Very clear, good initial head, which remains a little leaving a little lacing. Nothing interesting or exceptional.

S. Little smell, but slight lager note, not unpleasant. (Opposite to what I've heard of the US version)

T. Fine lager taste, nothing unpleasant, a bit of a dry bite to it. Some malty notes.

M. Not bad, but a tad sharp from over carbonation in my opinion.

O. Here is what I said about Asahi and the same goes for this; "Easy drinking beer that is quite refreshing. This is served all over Japan, and whilst being very dull isn't at all offensive. Can't really go wrong with it, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it if I wasn't living in Japan." I tried this alongside Asahi and there is a slight difference, very slight, a little more malt, but really not much difference.

I should also mention that whilst being a big lager drinker (due to that be the only thing on offer beer wise in most places here), I'm not a big lager fan, so the numbers may reflect this.

If your in Japan you'll struggle not to try Kirin and Asahi, if not, I wouldn't bother.

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Photo of tm82
2.43/5  rDev -8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Bottled; 33cl, poured into a Budvar tankered.

Appearance: Lacing is prominent and white, golden with solid clarity, extremely clean, no sediment, a standard pilsner image.

Smell is straw; lemongrass, floral, copper-iron, metallic, nectar and light, fain perfume.

Taste is lemons; flowers, iron, metallic, lemongrass, some sharp off-residue of green apples, moderately bitter in the hoppage but not intimidating and extremely quaffable

Mouthfeel is peppery, rather harsh and metallic, with a medium finish of lemon and floral elements.

A solid easy-drinking pilsner which works better on keg and is definitely a go-to when not much choice is on at macro establishments. I'd like to have it off the FV at Kirin when I expect the off-tastes will not be there.

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Kirin Ichiban from Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
2.64 out of 5 based on 1,790 ratings.
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