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 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 rec
2.42/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

After pour a foamy head quickly grows and then quickly dies down with little to no lacing. The body is a typical golden yellow.

The smell is indifferent to similar macro lagers and pils. Hopps are present, not much else.

It's watery and bitter with a strange metallic twang during the dry aftertaste.

Another easy to drink quaffing beer, but far from a quality brew.

 375 characters

Photo of dougbassett
2.98/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

One of the "1001 Beers You Should Taste Before You Die" -- #14 of the ones I"ve reviewed.

Japanese lager really not all that different from mass-produced American Adjunct lagers. Maybe a little less sweet and a hair more malt presence, which would maybe put it on a par with something like Pabst Blue Ribbon, although I'm not sure the two taste all that much similar. Still, not a bad thing. Brassy yellow pour, a quickly-vanishing head. Typically soury nose of straw that you tend to find in this style. Pretty generic "beer" flavors with a sour finish, although the aforementioned malt sweetness is pleasant. Docked a little bit for an unusually thin body that yet stays aggressively carbonated, making it somehow especially unpleasant to drink.

Not my first choice of the foreign imports, but not bad.

 808 characters

Photo of Dikfour
2.42/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

Look: Crystal clear pale yellow. Poured a nice big soapy white head that tripped over its self to dissipate. Mild Carbonation.

Smell: Just strait up pale bready malt.

Taste: Its a little brighter than the nose would indicate but is pretty much just pale bready malts. Also, there is a weird metallic thing going on that isn't very pleasant.

Feel: Light bodied. A little fizzy carbonation.

Overall: Not much to it. Not terrible but not very inspiring. Meh

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Photo of ElJacobian
2.51/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Tastes like newspaper. That being said - I'd drink this all day over a Miller Lite. This beer is useful if you're having incredibly spicy Thai food and need something to wash the fire off your gums.

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Photo of Ale_Dog
3.21/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this with spicy Chinese food and was thankful for the smooth,
sweet taste. Reduced the heat immediately. Was quite surprised by this beer. Thought it would taste like Bud but was way better. Could tell there was no rice or corn which gives it an actual backbone. The criticism that there is minimal hop flavor is true. It's not a very "flavorful" beer overall, but subtle is not a bad thing sometimes. I go with the notion that there is a time and a place for almost every beer.

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Photo of diabecktic
2.77/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The color is a very light, translucent gold. Much carbonation is present, as I can see the bubbles constantly rise for quite some time. Moderate "light" head formation dissapates quickly with little lacing.

Rice seems to be the predominant aroma, but there is a somewhat sweet smell that compliments it. For the most part, it smells rather average.

Wow - the rice flavor is overwhelming. It's not really balanced with the sweetness in the smell. Not too much of an aftertaste, but it definately dries out your mouth. It doesn't taste awful, but it is by no means great.

It's not too watery, but it feels rather light in the mouth. I can't really feel the carbonation on my tongue, either.

Since it's a bit on the watery side, it's not to hard to drink this beer quickly. I'm not sure I would want to have this one too early, since it doesn't taste all that great to me. However, if it were a bit cheaper, I wouldn't mind having these after I've enjoyed the taste of my first few.

I don't know what to think of this - the strong rice aroma and flavor make me think I'm drinking sake even though this is (supposed to be) a beer. I'm not really impressed with it, but I wouldn't turn it down if someone offered me one (afterall - it IS still "beer"). I typically like heavier/darker beers, but I've definately had better Japanese beers before (of both same/different styles). You wouldn't miss out on too much if you didn't try this out.

 1,499 characters

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

 187 characters

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 MeanMotaScootah
3.2/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

very little aroma - just dank malt and some bready notes. Overall a sweet lager, not sure what an American pale lager is but this seems more like a british lager to me. Not a bad lager but just different.

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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.

 1,171 characters

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.

 699 characters

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.

 679 characters

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.

 495 characters

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.

 279 characters

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.

 697 characters

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.

 753 characters

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 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

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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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