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Kirin Ichiban | Kirin Brewery Company, Limited

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584 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: 584 | Ratings: 1,760
Photo of Nyg
3.35/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My number 3 of the the Japanese beer. Pours golden like most the Japanese beers. Medium bodied with a lot of carbonation and nice frothy head. Very simple and drinkable wheat tasting beer

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Photo of aquaderek
2.81/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured the beer from the bottle into a pint glass. The beer is a light orange with a foamy frothy white head that sticks around for a minute or two. The nose sweet and malty, maybe a little skunky and the taste follows with a refreshing dry finish. If there is anything that saves this beer is the bone dry finish which I find extremely refreshing. Not my favorite beer, but I don't think that it is horrible eithier. I think for the type of beer it is; it does it's job.

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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 theozag
3.08/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first introduction to Japanese beer was a pint of Asahi in a run-down hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Kyoto. I'm glad to say that that fairly poor introduction did not exclude me from Japanese brews all together. Despite this beer's low ratings here on the Advocate, I rather enjoyed it. To wit:

Ichiban pours a flat yellow and tumbles (something like a stout, actually) to a gold body with a white head that quickly fades from the glass. It's smell is dry and sweet, with some suggestion of good hops breeding and bitterness. Ichiban starts clean, crisp, and bitter and immediately makes its medium body apparent. It settles into the tongue with a kind, gently sweet flavor that carries a constant hop note and somewhat fruity or citrusy tastes. The brew ends thicker than it starts with a bit of a caramel flavor left over in your mouth. Ichiban's aftertaste is rather relaxing to the drinker, and carries all the best parts of the beer.

Overall, I thought Kirin Ichiban was a tasty, easy-to-drink, medium-bodied import. Needless to say, i found it to be much better than Asahi. If ever I need a decidedly foreign premium beer again, I'll gladly choose Ichiban.

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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 ghebel
2.9/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - I got this beer in a local sushi restaurant with dinner. The light was dim, so I could not fully assess the appearance. I appeared to be yellow in color and clear with a white or slightly off-white abundant head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing.

S - No smell to appreciate. Just malty base.

T - Tasted like other light lagers.

M - Thin

D - Drinkable, not displeasing.

Overall - This was served to me very cold in a 21 oz bottle. It seemed to hit the spot with the salty sushi.

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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 utah44
2.5/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

22 ounce bottle poured into a Pilsener glass i bought in Augsburg, Germany in 1969. The label differed from that of the picture on BA. Special Premium Reserve replaced Kirin's Original Brew and Draft beer was not included on the bottom. Also, the Japanese characters were totally different. However, Google search indicated that these 2 versions were the same. This brew is actually produced in LA, CA by Anheuser-Busch (under the direction fo Kirin's brewmaster).

Developed a nice head which persisted for awhile and a golden color. Aroma was like an average pilsener. Mouthfeel was watery and taste was unsubstantial. Not a bad brew, but not remarkable in any way. Not worth the premium price.

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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 Jemonster
3.47/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a stein. Thick white lasting head and pale gold, clear body.

S: Smells like an American beer to me, malt and hops. Nothing particularly interesting and worthy of note, but no funky, off-smells either.

T: A bit bolder than I thought it would be. Some decent bitterness, no real sweetness, and nothing else in particular. Simple flavors... It really does taste like beer flavored beer.

M: Light and actually pretty refreshing. Not enough acidity to be a great summer beer, but I wouldn't turn it down on a hot day either. Thin and cooling on the palate.

D: I could session this. Not a beer to drink for the sake of drinking great beer, but not the typical cheap offerings either.

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Photo of micahgoldfus
3.08/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured a an off-yellow, straw color, 1/2 finger head. Smell was weak, only picked up a little bit of slightly sweet malts. Taste is pretty good: crisp and very dry. A nice balance of malt and hop, I could definately pick up the rice flavor, which came off as a pleasant, grainy taste. A nice bitter kick at the end, but slightly too carbonated for my liking. A great session beer, which pairs very well with Japanese food. I think this is my favorite of the famous Japanese big-time breweries.

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Photo of jvajda
1.9/5  rDev -28%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Had a few of these on the plane to Tokyo. When in Rome, right? Apparently.. not really.

Smell: Like a Bud or some other swill. Smelled a little old.
Taste: Like no other beer I've ever had, but not very good. The best way to describe this is a sweatened up Bud. There were slight hints of ginger and Asian spices. Very unique, but not my bag.
Mouthfeel: Nothing special.
Drinkability: After a couple of these, prepare for some major gas. Not something to drink in a social setting (or on a 15 hour plane ride, yikes!).

Ichiban means number one in English, but this certainly is not Japan's best. Try a Sapporo instead.

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Photo of hophead723
3.89/5  rDev +47.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Look: Consistent clear straw gold color with a fluffy white head. Lots of carbonation rushes to the top, fueling the head and providing excellent crispness.

Smell: The aroma is simple malted grain and a touch of corn. This is an all malt beer so you don't get that added complexity to the aroma but it is doughy and delightful nonetheless.

Taste: The taste is subtle, mildly sweet, and grainy overall but with doughy notes in the lingering finish. The aroma and taste go hand in hand.

Feel: This is superbly crisp and drinkable with a mildly dry finish, excellent with sushi of course.

Overall: Its either this or Sapporo that is brewed by a macro brewery like Coors or something but I don't care with this beer; it is enjoyable and I love all good craft beers and IPAs out there. I am surprised by the reviews on here by the bros, too low it seems to me.

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

golden fluffy white head dissipates right away
a lot of spice and flower to the nose
lots of carbonation
very very malty
sweet and a bit bready
has an almost red stripe feel to it
Exactly what I expect from a Japanese beer, no offense to their people, but beer is not their forte.

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Photo of Evocatus
1.78/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours a golden yellow with little to no head. Light smell of grains but nothing distinct. Tastes like it smells, nothing special, just some light grains. Goes down pretty easily, like water. It has a odd aftertaste that pretty much kills the beer. Overall, something to drink when there isn't any other option available. Just slightly better than a Coors Light or Bud.

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Photo of twi1609372
2.53/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer used to be at a bar me and my friend go to. When they first had it, we had it off the tap. It really wasnt bad. It had a bit of a different taste, but wasnt bad. sort of smooth, nothing bad. However about a week later, we had another one, and yuck, it tasted foul, smelt off, just wasnt good. So i guess if your going to try this, try to amke sure it's fresh, otherwise dont expect much.

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Photo of Reinheitsgebot71
2.79/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice 650ml bottle I picked up before they discontinue carrying them at my store. The labels cool, dragon, horse type animal, very Asian.

The beer pours a honey straw colour topped by a rather big foamy white head. Good carbonation and retention, lasting well to the half way point before it dissipates.

Aromas are rather lacking grains, grass, green apple and a mild skunk; all very subdued.

The palette is of sweet malt up front and of an artificial feel at that. Corn syrup flavours dominate with a mild taste of cooked rice and white bread. A slightly medicinal alcohol flavour makes its presences felt as the beer warms. A mild hop bitterness towards the end, giving a characteristically dry finish.
The body is light with a grainy mouth feel.

Very bland, truthfully I'm disappointed, it's not as I remember it, then again I used to drink crap. None the less I find this one of the better Japanese lager offerings.

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Photo of Jerzdevil1116
2.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

16oz bottle drank from a pint glass. Bottle reads, "Brewed under the strict supervision of Kirin's brewmaster by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Los Angeles, CA." (Sounds like a foreshadowing of the taste to come.)

A: Clear pale yellow body. A lot of carbonation rising in the glass. White foamy head dissipated over a few minutes.

S: Smells like most other macro beers. Slight metallicy hop presence.

T: Slightly sweet taste of some type of grain, probably the rice. Maybe a faint hop bitterness hidden in the finish. Basicly your standard BMC.

M: Medium bodied with plenty of carbonation.

D: It goes down pretty easy, but the taste is not enjoyable.

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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 Getinthevan
3.25/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Kirin to me is one of those ironic beers where it doesn't smell as good as it would taste and ends up becoming a really good drinkable beer. Call it a paradox, it really is one.

Appearance is a mild, pallid yellow with minimal lacing and barely any frothy head.

Smell is pretty strong sour smell of rice and grains. It's definitely a bitter beer waiting to be consumed.

Taste however is much better than it smells, as the rice flavor is full, but balanced against the grains. This stuff certainly goes down quick and it does have a pretty addicting taste to it.

Mouthfeel was pretty average: watery, rice flavored water with a tiny bit of froth. Not bad, but not unbearable.

Drinkability surprisingly is very good. You can drink a good few pints of these and catch a good buzz. Not a bad Japanese lager. This stuff really is a paradox of the senses.

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Photo of imanidiot777
3.39/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pale gold color, very clear, decent sized head but dissipated quickly, almost no lacing.

S: A little hoppy, can't really pick out anything else but my nose isn't the best at this.

T: Has a little bit of a pale ale aftertaste (a little bitter), just a little sweetness not sure what is making it sweet though.

M: Feels smooth, refined, could use more carbonation.

D: Goes down smooth and isn't too heavy so you could have quite a few.

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Photo of atrus138
2/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Had a bottle of this at the excellent Shogun restaurant (though I had to ask for a glass). Pours a transparent yellow with no real head and no lacing. Could easily see objects through the glass. Did not bode well. I could hardly smell anything, though what I did smell was unimpressive. It tasted just like any old American lager - that is to say there was almost no taste. I noticed some rice notes as it warmed a little bit, but this kind of stuff is better "enjoyed" cold. Mouthfeel is extremely light, but very carbonated. The carbonation at least made it a bit more interesting than stagnant water. The ABV is low enough to make this a good session beer...but why would you want another one?

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Photo of likethetaste
2.75/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I got this beer just to try it out. Of course, I look more closely after I buy it and realize that it is actually bottled by AB! Well, Ok. I taste it and well... it taste really no different than a Budweiser to me.

Nothing great about this beer at all and there are enough faults to keep me from ever getting it again.

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Photo of BeerisfoodLLC
2.7/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

served from a 650ml bottle in a glass:

A - Light pale yellow - think head that fades fast.

S - Nothing much to smell, slight hop smell

T - Not much taste here, the rice adds a sweet undertone, the hops are barely noticable.

M - Watered down, high carbonation, the rice leaves a crisp, clean aftertaste.

D - I like this in a Japanese restaurant but otherwise I dont really drink it.

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Photo of eye2
3/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Typical look of a mass produced beer. Light in color. Pretty clear. Lots of bubbles. Head disappears quicly.

S: Not much of a smell here. Maybe a little grassy and smokey.

T: A little more flavor than your average mass produced beer. 750ml bottles are better than the slightly metallic taste you get from the cans.

MF: Pretty average. Lots of carbonation.

Overall: I'm surprised to see that this is all malt. I've had hundreds of these and have never gotten that impression. It doesn't taste anything like Yebisu (for example).

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Kirin Ichiban from Kirin Brewery Company, Limited
2.64 out of 5 based on 1,760 ratings.
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