Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale
Kiuchi Brewery

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic AleHitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale
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IPA - English
Ranked #26
Ranked #26,528
3.81 | pDev: 11.55%
Kiuchi Brewery
Very Good
Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic AleHitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale
Notes: Hitachino Japanese Classic Ale is brewed following the original India Pale Ale brought to Japan in the 19th century . It is slowly matured in Cedar casks which are commonly used in the brewing of traditional Japanese sake.
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Reviews: 268 | Ratings: 479 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by ImperatorScab:
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ImperatorScab from Tennessee

4.25/5  rDev +11.5%

Feb 01, 2014
More User Reviews:
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

3.29/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hugely carbonated pumpkin with a fine haze, that on closer inspection is due to a cloud of superfine yeast. Thanks to the bubble factory on the bottom of the glass, the pale orange, whipped cream head is a stunning creation. Gargantuan, creamy, sticky and as rocky as Mount Fuji, it's everything one could ask for. Whatever else this beer brings to the party, it looks good. Damn good.

My mom has had a cedar chest since before I was born and that aroma has been burned indelibly into my brain. Q: Does JCA, which has been aged in cedar casks, actually smell like cedar? A: Yes, but thankfully it doesn't dominate. There's another, spicier aspect of the nose that reminds me of sandlewood. I have never smelled another beer quite like this one. Even though it's a pleasant scent, it isn't a very beer-like scent. Not only that, but I have to downgrade any IPA that doesn't smell anything like hops on principle alone.

I'll give Kiuchi Brewery this much, they come up with some of the most original, interesting beers in all the world. The only problem is, they seem to miss the mark as often as they hit it. This is the oddest, least IPA-like IPA that I've ever had occasion to drink. A Japanese beer modeled on a traditional English India Pale Ale that uses a quintessentially American hop (Chinook) and is aged in cedar casks to pay tribute to how saki is created. Whew! Could a beer that fits that description actually be any good? Not really.

First of all, disabuse yourself of any notion whatsoever that you're about to drink an IPA. Think woody, spiced ale. There's a sturdy malt base that conveys a mild sweetness that is more than countered by a bracing amount of bitterness and an enveloping blanket of pungent herbs and spices. Chinook may not have been the best choice here, but then I can't taste any Chinookness anyway. Sticking with Challenger and Kent Goldings alone would have worked out better since the bitterness would have been more manageable.

I like the smell of cedar, but it looks like I don't like the taste of cedar. Cutting the amount of cask aging time by half, or even by a third, would stilll have gotten the job done without the spicy, smoldering, white peppery woodiness obliterating everything in its path. Bottom line: this might have been a good idea, but it was taken way too far.

The mouthfeel, unlike the aroma and the flavor, actually matches the stated style. It's roughly medium in heft, although it lacks that sticky, resiny character that I love in the most highly hopped versions. It's as smooth as the day is long and the carbonation is well behaved, despite my reservations after seeing the head attempt to exit the top of the glass.

Kiuchi brews great beer (White Ale), mediocre beer (Red Rice Ale) and not so good beer (Sweet Stout). Japanese Classic Ale occupies that vast middle ground. By its nature, it will be many different things to many different people. I can see how some will love it, even as others will hate it. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it, but it may just be too strange for its own good.

Dec 12, 2005
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orbitalr0x from Illinois

4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one pours with erupts in my glass to form a huge white wall atop a nice deep orange liquid. Quite impressive I must say. Putting your nose anywhere near this brew is like taking a walk into a huge cedar're forced to do a double take as you inhale the spicy woody aromas. There's a bit of mandarin orange citrus...but the cedar runs the intoxicating and unique.

Cedar is upfront as the brew settles down enough for me to drink. Hints of citrus hops and a slight caramel weave in and out with a nice bitterness on the way down. The cedar imparts an overall peppery spiciness to the brew that is enjoyable. A very unique offering and one of the best beers from Japan I've ever tried.

Mouthfeel is smooth and a bit creamy....nice bubbly carbonation. This is easy drinking and I could easily have a few...however I think I'd get burnt out on the cedar after that. Overall, a very original brew that I highly recommend to one and all!

Jan 19, 2005
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brunop from Massachusetts

4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aug 29, 2017
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anaids from Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

Feb 19, 2014
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Georgiabeer from Georgia

3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Beer pours a hazy amber with lees in the bottle. Its got a rocky beige head.

Very prominent nose of cedar with a little earthiness and sourness behind that. Any hops are obscured by the cedar.

Very interesting flavor! Starts just a tad sour, then immediately there is an earthy, almost barnyard flavor, followed by a powerful blast of woodsy cedar and finally a long pine sappy finish.

Spicy and creamy with a very dry almost astringent finish from all the wood. Pretty highly carbonated as well, but not unpleasantly so.

Hard to say about drinkability. On the one hand this is a truly unusual beer, and very flavorful. I'm glad I tried it. On the other, the cedar is really a little too intense for me to have more than one at a time. That doesn't mean I won't be back for more, though. I rank this as one of the more unique brews currently being produced. If this is an English IPA style, its like no other I've ever had- not even close.

Jul 31, 2006
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sblanton83 from Michigan

3/5  rDev -21.3%

Mar 14, 2014
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kenito799 from New York

4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a Duvel glass.

Medium peachy-amber raises a 1/2 inch ivory head that recedes and leaves some lacing that slowly slides down the sides of the glass. Emptying the bottle dumps some gobs of yeast which settle to the bottom. Looks nice.

Aroma is malty with a crisp cool subtly woodsy scent mixed in...very refreshing scent.

It has been a while since I first tasted this on draft, and I remember the cedar coming across stronger then...I really like this bottle sample, probably as much as the draft sample, although I will definitely try that again if the opportunity ever presents itself.

This is a mild, malty beer, some sweetness that is perfectly balanced by the minty, woodsy cedar flavor that you taste at first sip all the way through to the finish. Well-blanaced hoppy bitterness starts in the midpalate and carries through to the finish, never overwhelming, and the cedar flavor takes center stage.

This is a unique and delicious beer, count me as a huge fan!

Jun 24, 2007
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Satsuma from Florida

3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

Jun 16, 2013
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RblWthACoz from Pennsylvania

3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy amber orange. Citric nose with slight bubble gum tones it seems. Flavor is smooth with a touch of bitterness on the tip of your tongue that does not overpower. Even citric tones there as well. Feel is good with a nice bubble to it. Definitely drinkable. A nice smooth brew with even qualities. My first Hitachino. Glad to have gotten to try it. Not sure if I’d ever go back to it because of the price, but it was pretty decent.

Dec 30, 2007
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GibbonsTheBeerGuy from Texas

4.25/5  rDev +11.5%

Sep 19, 2013
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July2Nov from Virginia

3.74/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Cloudy orangish amber color with a frothy one inch head that holds up nicely throughout the life of the beer.

Smell: Almost non-existent. some honey notes come through and that's about it. Weird.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Very pleasant. Not as hoppy as I would have expected. Slight alcohol taste opens up the mouth for a bit...Slight hops/piney flavor hits you...then finishes with the alcohol again. When I mention the alcohol taste, don't get me wrong, it's not so strong to be unbearable, but rather you can taste it for a moment and then it's gone. The aftertaste has a crisp dry feel.

Drinkability: This one could get you in trouble because it says 7% abv on the bottle, but it's so crisp and refreshing that one just won't do it. Besides, the cute owl on the bottle is telling me to go grab another...and this dude abides!

Aug 06, 2010
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torriman from Spain

4/5  rDev +5%

Oct 28, 2014
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vrbulldog22 from Ohio

4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Jun 23, 2020
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metter98 from New York

3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very hazy yellowish amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high off white dense head that has good retention properties and consistently left a thick head covering the surface.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of cedar in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, flavors of cedar from the barrel aging stand out in the taste and linger thought the finish. There is also a light amount of bitterness and some notes of herbal hops.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I found this to be a very interesting beer due to the cedar aromas and flavors—it seemed like just enough cedar was added without being enough to completely overpower the beer.

Sep 27, 2012
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cdoan4 from North Carolina

3/5  rDev -21.3%

Apr 30, 2014
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largadeer from California

3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aug 22, 2016
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Lucular from Maryland

3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Apr 26, 2019
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DIM from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: This was a slightly hazy golden color with reddish coppery highlights. It poured with a medium sized, craggy, off-white head that left some lace in it's wake.

s: I got spicy notes of cinnamon and/or corriander. I also got some toffee and herbal, flowery hops. There was a little cedar as well, but not much.

t: This starts off sweet, with flavors of smoky toffee. The finish is where this gets interesting. Dry, peppery, and floral hops mingle with some cola (??) flavors. At the very end is a lingering cedar taste.

m: The carbonation is gentle, creamy, and long lasting.

d: This ranks as one of the most unique beers I've tried. It isn't necesarily something I'd reach for often, but I'm definitely glad I tried it.

Nov 13, 2008
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the_awesometeer from California

4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

My beer was a golden/amber color, and has a haze to it. The head is then there are a lot of floaties in my drink, but it is also 2 and half years old. The beer has a nice malt aroma some citrus hints. The beer has a nice bready sweetness to it with a after taste of bitterness. and some slight lemon flavor but its is not very strong. The beer has a nice buzz feeling of carbonation and easy to drink

Sep 14, 2017
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cpanossian from New York

3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy amber color, poured from bottle into goblet.

Light boozy whiskey bouqet from the cedar casking.

But sweet malty tasting with a nice malty after taste.

Very nice ale - Hitachino Nest is a great craft brewery - find their beers and try them all!

Oct 01, 2010
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CalgaryFMC from Canada (AB)

3.84/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single bottle poured into a tulip. A cloudy orange-red with two fingers of creamy beige foam. Aroma is a compelling mix of brittle toffee, orchard fruit (peach and pear), earthy/slightly woody forest floor hops, nuts and pretzels ... Palate is similarly unique. Does come across as an English IPA but with a moderate degree of plum fruitiness, a rich toffee maltiness, unexpected almond and pecan notes, and more expected cedar or sandalwood aromatics. Some diacetyl apparent. A stark contrast between the dry woodiness and the rich sweet malts, somehow it works. Body on the thick side for the style, moderate carbonation and a malt-forward finish seasoned with a dash of woody spice. Unique brew like many of this brewery's other offerings. Not well-integrated yet one can switch between the dry floral fruitiness, the woody spice, and the sweet dessert backbone and not get the least bit bored.

Dec 13, 2014
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Patrick999 from Florida

4.68/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Cap opens with a real nice "pfft." Wow, this pours into my Stone imperial pint glass with a massive 2-finger head! Damn, ridiculous lacing too. Freakin' ice-cream-cone head just like Houblon Chouffe; you're kidding me, right? Amber-gold pale ale body. If I'm judging a book by its cover, this one is perfect. This is a perfect 5 in looks, and I don't even have to think about it.

S - Wow! I was not expecting the cedar casks in which this was matured to come through like this. Very woody, in a light and pleasant manner, just as you'd expect from cedar. I note a lot of raisin-y sweetness beyond this, almost like a Dogfish Head big beer - I hope it isn't as sweet as it smells. It's almost starting to smell like ripe strawberries.

T - Hmmm, I do get a crazy suggestion of strawberries here, yet it isn't as sweet as I feared. What hops were used in this, I wonder???? Interesting astringent bitterness, a little soapy and pine-sap-ish. Still big on the strawberries - I haven't had strawberry flavor come through like this in a beer before, short of a big-assed barleywine. I've almost forgotten about the cedar - I love the light woodiness it imparts here. This beer is definitely something!

F - This beer has been damn near nailed. Medium body, the somewhat heavier feel makes it seem stronger than it is, yet this is still a very smooth beer that slides down the gullet with no problems.

D - I must get more. I had the Hitachino Nest Red Rice, and the White Ale, and was only mildly impressed...but this, this is excellent. At 7.5%, you are not going to pound this, but it is still very much enjoyable. My compliments to this Japanese brewer. How can this be this underrated?

Apr 16, 2009
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zero_signal from New Jersey

3.25/5  rDev -14.7%

Sep 06, 2013
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gubbt from California

3.45/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful hazy orange with a small white head that dissipates into a thin lace.

Aroma is an interesting mix of citrus (orange/lemon peel) and resinous wood. A bit of ginger.

Not much sweetness up front, but transitions to a fairly clean bitter finish with some citrus notes and a bit of metallic tinge. There is also a bit of bready malt underneath.

Mouthfeel is quite good and creamy.

Drinkability is fair, as it wouldn't wear on me too much. Overall a nice beer that is kind of interesting, but for $5 for an 11 oz bottle, I think I'll pass next time.

Aug 20, 2008
Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale from Kiuchi Brewery
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 479 ratings