Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH) | Kiuchi Brewery

very good
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Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH)Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH)

Brewed by:
Kiuchi Brewery

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
From Japan's most prestigious brewery, Hitachino Nest XH (Extra High) is a strong Belgian Brown Ale, matured in shochu (distilled sake) barrels. Chinook & Styrian Goldings hops are use

Added by UncleJimbo on 12-29-2002

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Ratings: 732 |  Reviews: 365
Photo of woodychandler
4.19/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I was curious (yellow or blue) to try this when I saw it on a store's shelf recently and today being New Beer Sunday's anniversary, I decided to open up my bottle.

Shazam! It could not wait to get out, like my neighbor's dog or a genie and began foaming up through the neck even before I finished popping the cap. Wow, was the nose fun-kay! Brett? Definitely something wild going on there. I did an emergency pour to keep from losing any and it resulted in two-plus fingers' worth of rocky, ecru head that slowly fell away, leaving some beautiful lacing in its wake. Color was a cloudy orangish-amber and I could even see some floaties which may have been stirred up by my anxious pour. I still have half-a-bottle, so I may allow it to settle and gently decant the remainder. Leaning into the glass, it definitely had some tart brett-like smell going on. My mouth actually puckered briefly. Mouthfeel was big, full, and zipping with CO2 bubbles. It tasted not gueuze-like, as the nose seemed to suggest, but more sour fruit-like. I tasted cherry, oak wood, and lemon tart. Wow, what a way to begin a Sunday! Finish was tart up front but the oakiness lingered after the finish. I was glad that my curiosity paid off, but one was plenty for me.

I picked this up at Hunger ‘n’ Thirst recently and with the chill air and the return of Standard Time, this seems like a good time to drink it.

From the bottle: “Matured in Sake Casks”; “This strong ale was matured in Oak Casks which was [sic] used for maturation of Shocyu. Shocyu is distilled Sake, so please enjoy rich flavor both from beer and Sake.”

I Pop!ped the cap and began a heavy-handed pour that caused a pseudo-cascade, settling into just over three fingers of dense, French Vanilla-colored head with good retention. Color was a hazy Amber to Deep Amber/Light Copper (SRM = > 9, < 13). Nose had a definite oakiness along with a lightly funky bite. Hmmm. Mouthfeel was medium. The initial flavor was like sucking on a piece of freshly cut wood, then it gave ‘way to a funky lemony tartness. I have to say, this was not what I was expecting, but it was certainly interesting. I do not have enough exposure to Sake and/or Shocyu to be able to speak to what flavors it/they may have imparted, but warming, it took on a pronounced booziness. Wow! I noticed some lees in the bottom of the bottle, so I re-agitated the remainder to loosen them up and prepared for another pour. In the meantime, it finished gaspingly dry. Between the wood flavor and the inherent tartness, this was one puckering beer. I did not dislike it, but I cannot say that I was a huge fan either. It was more of a novelty for me than anything else.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice, slightly hazy golden amber with a decent, fine-bubbled off-white head. Aroma is yeasty and malty with just a hint of fruit, not anything special but still appetizing. Flavor has a strong alcohol bite, perhaps a result of maturing in sake barrels. Otherwise it is fairly malty, a little fruity, a little yeasty and slightly sweet. Texture is smooth, edgy and quite lively.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.61/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to John for the sample. From a 330 ml brown bottle, abv listed as 8%.

Pours out with a tall tight spongy beige head, body is a deep dark opaque amber.

The aroma has a tart vinegar character to it, no doubt a result of the Shocyu casks. Dry, musty notes. Mild wood notes well in the background.

Flavour unravels with a bit of complexity. Dry earthy malt up front, some light caramel notes pop up in the middle, dry sherry-like finish, with cedar wood lingering well into the aftertaste. Some ambiguous sweetness pops up the longer it warms to round the finish and aftertaste out a bit more.

The mouthfeel is so fleeting that almost what isn't there is what makes it so good. It flies across the palate in an ephemeral flash, smooth, effervescent and dry.

Greater than the sum of its parts, unique and enjoyable by the end of the glass, a beer definitely worth revisiting.

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Photo of SanDiegoBeerLove
3.72/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark Red-Brown color with a half finger of light tan head.

S - Smells of Plums, Vanilla, Ginger, Oak, and of course Sake.

T - Tastes of Toffee, Raisins, Sake, and an Oak Finish. The rice alcohol taste is apparent.

M - Light to Medium carbonation with a heavier mouth feel.

D - Very good and similar to the Red Rice Ale. I wonder how this would be with a Sushi made of stronger flavored fish.

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Photo of Gyle41386
3.16/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Murky reddish-brown pour. Sort of reminded me of a scotch ale like Dirty Bastard in that regard. Smallish off-white head retains well and leaves behind some decent lacing.

Smell is mostly sake/cedar. Whatever the base beer is offers practically nothing to the aroma.

Flavor follows. There's not a whole lot of depth to the flavor. It's inoffensive, but kind of bland. Cedary finish.

Medium-light body. Carbonation level is appropriate. It's an easy drinker, but not a particularly exciting one.

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Photo of hoegaardenhero
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: pours a hazy deep and cloudy amber with a thick inch and a half of tan/yellowish foam; very light bubbles can be seen and there is a lot of yeast in there.

s: light sour notes; warm caramel; lots of orange and sweet citrus notes; sweet but still complex

t: first a strong sourness hits and lingers the whole sip--it is not unpleasant and interesting but not the greatest taste in the world either; caramel; even a light wateriness; hmm....ok is all i can say

m: i fel that the carb is aggressive and the mouthfeel is a little thin but overall ok

d: i'm not sure i would try this again; it was interesting and sour with lots of wild yeast notes but was not my favorite; it is probably worth one try, though.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle. 'Long Maturation Period'? In what? More info, please and domo arigoto.

This beer pours a clear dark bronzed amber hue, with one skinny finger of weakly foamy, and somewhat creamy ecru head, which leaves a bit of loose ocean spray lace around the glass as it quickly and evenly subsides.

It smells of muddled, but still damned fruity citrus hops, tart red grapes, musty toffee/caramel malt, and a softly bristling booziness. The taste is rather nutty - chestnuts, really - slick caramel malt, resinous pine and citrus rind hops, concentrated honey, a soft grainy vinous woodiness, and a bit of rice wine alcohol warming.

The carbonation is fairly soft, and mostly just pleasantly frothy, the body medium-light in weight for the style, generally smooth, and perhaps a tad creamy. It finishes still hoppy on the citrus and pine front lines, with the attending bready caramel lackey sweetness. The 8 points of booze do well by this one's homage in that they are not overtly noticeable.

I wasn't expecting this to taste so much like a Japanese barrel-aged DIPA, but it surely does. If we're seizing that thread, then maybe this is a little restrained on the overall hop and malt profile in comparison to the NA versions, but enjoyable nonetheless. As a BSDA, however, this is as confused, but still as determined, as a first-time condom purchaser.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.71/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. No bottled date.

(A)- Pours a super cloudy reddish amber to brown color that produced a large & foamy tan to orange colored head with some good retention behind it. This is so cloudy actually, that it is almost opaque looking.

(S)- A very dry, but floral citrus of lemon & lime. You can really detect the dry/floral rice from the sake casks.

(T)- The same big & dry citrus kick that is followed by an almost sour, but bitter oakiness. Finishes sour also, but with a slightly caramel-ish toffee. Rather yeasty.

(M)- A good carbonation level to it. The sourness & bitterness really overpowers the palate. Has more of a wild ale thing going on than an american strong profile.

(D)- Definitely a different beer that caught me by surprise, but still delivered fairly well. An interesting body & profile that I enjoyed, but i dont know if it fits into the style due to its sourness, maybe its just a japanese thing? Definitely never have heard of a beer aged in sake casks before.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a tawny leather couch brown with foamy, gushing head that caught me off guard that died quickly and left lace patches. A strong caramel and sweet malt smell along with hints of dark fruit (like berries or cherry or something) and bits of hoppy bitterness and faint roasted smell, which I am assuming is coming from the casks. Strong malt presence when I first sip that leads to a sweet base that underlies a sharp, sour tasting hopiness (cherry, berry, lemon/citric). The sourness passes over the tongue sharp and prickly thanks to some lively carbonation and the finish is a warm, dry finish that gives off a little woodiness. A sipper with some balls, to put it bluntly.

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Photo of LittleBug31
4.18/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A toasty, warm almond color with a reddish-orange hue. Fluffy tan/yellow head with sparkling bubbles.

S: Very interesting and sweet. Orangey citrus, vanilla and caramel. Dark fruits and figs with a bit of gingery spice.

T: Burnt toffee and caramel. Vanilla bean with and interesting spiciness. Alcohol is noticeable, but not in a bad way. Citrusy and floral-- delicious!

M: A tingly burn from the intense carbonation, yet finishes smooth and leaves a very pleasant aftertaste behind.

D: Interesting and flavorful, yet light enough to be incredibly enjoyable.

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Photo of darklordlager
4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque chestnut red with a 1/4" coating of medium tan head.

S: Dark fruit (plum being the most prominent), floral hops, fruity yeast. Perhaps a little vanilla, and a bit "grainy." Spicy character underlying it all--not sure if it is from the hops or sake cask.

T: Bready, toffee-y malts, dark fruit, spicy character and floral hops. The sake seems to come through with a slightly grainy, slick finish.

M: Medium carbonation makes it seem light-bodied. In the finish it seems a bit heavier, and the slightest bit syrupy.

D: Very interesting offering from Hitachino--great to see unique things like this from abroad.

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Photo of icetraxx
3.74/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

NOTE: This beer became better as it warmed up, I amended my original review - do not serve at fridge temperature.

A: Poured an amber brown with a tinge of red and a slight haze into my cognac snifter. A one finger head was produced that quickly dissipated to a collar which actually sticks around for (nearly) the entire beer and periodically laces the glass.

S: Very aromatic! I am very happy with my choice of using a snifter for this beer. Vanilla, hops, lemongrass, sake, and honey come through. I also notice an aroma I can only associate with chardonnay wine. A very pleasant and almost exotic combination. They could make an air-freshner out of this beer it smells so wonderful.

T: It starts a bit sweet and hoppy and ends with a very dry and tingly finish. The dryness and flavor of sake become very strong on the finish, they weren't lying about the flavor from the sake. A bit of hops balance the sweetness, very well balanced overall. The traditional oaky (read: whisky/cognac) like flavor is completely absent, I would never guess this was a oak casked ale if the label didn't say it was. I can taste a slight woody flavor but it does not have the vanillin kick that oak usually has, which is definitely a shame (I bet the sake absorbed all that delicious vanillin). The 7% alcohol in this beer makes it known in the taste, but it isn't overwhelming. The taste lacks some complexity compared to what I was expecting (as this is an oaked beer after all), yet slight nuances improved as the beer warmed up.

M: Slightly over-carbonated, probably due to my weak pour. Good body, yet watery for the style. Average.

D: Even though it doesn't have that much alcohol, this beer is definitely a slow sipper, this is an aspect I can enjoy. Unfortunately, the flavor gets a little boring after a few sips and sits a little heavy overall (if you drink it too quickly); I have found that the flavor becomes more interesting as the beer warms up, which greatly increases my enjoyment with this beer. I'm definitely done after one 11.2oz bottle.

O: The best beer I've ever had from the land of the rising sun, yet underwhelming in the grand scheme of things. It is quite possible that I am looking for flavor that this beer never intended to produce, but I find the flavor lacking a complexity that I seek for this style. The amazing aroma makes me look forward to trying more brews from Kiuchi Brewery in Naka City, Japan, though I may not pick this one up again.

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Photo of blackearth
2.07/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Purchased from Blue Max Liquors in Burnsville, MN. Pours a murky, dark reddish brown body with a huge pillowy off-white head. There are globs of sediment floating around and settling in the bottom of the snifter. The aroma is one big sour mish-mosh of belgian yeast. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and highly carbonated. The bottle actually foamed out a little after I popped the cap. Sweet syrupy flavor that has a tart and sour finish. I can't detect any sake. I guess this is what you get sometimes when you buy "experimental" beers. I couldn't even finish this one.

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Photo of jgasparine
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A- Poured from the tap with a thin white head, which quickly receded to a collar and some nice lacing. The body was a bright ruby-tinged amber color. Wonderful to look at.

S- Sour, earthy and horseblankety nose with lesser notes of ripe dark fruit and candy sugar. Nothing here speaks "sake" to me... although I am perceiving what might be some resinous cedar-like aromas from the wood used in the sake casks themselves...

T- A slightly sweeter replicate of the nose than anticipated. Sweet malts (and melanoidins?) are up front before being overwhelmed with funk. Some sake-like character emerges with a distinct hop bitterness in the dry finish.

M- Nice medium body with a huge "velvet blanket" of soft carbonation. I am torn with the mouthfeel rating here because it is currently classified on this site as an American Strong Ale, but it drinks like a Flemish Brown Ale. If it were categorized as a Flemish Brown, I would give it a '5' in the mouthfeel department.

D- Very drinkable, but the funk becomes a bit overpowering with time. I thoroughly enjoyed one glass, but one is enough for me in a sitting.

NOTE: I recall having a bottle of this stuff a couple years ago, and I don't remember any infection at all...

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Photo of kegger22
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hitachino Nest XH is an American strong ale aged in sake casks. It has a one finger tan head that shows good retention and is a cloudy copper color.

The aroma speaks of citrus hops.

Initially, the taste is sweet caramel malt, but as it warms the citrus hops come out in force making this a well balanced beer. I have tasted sake a number of times and was expecting a dry finish, but XH didn't have that dryness or any appreciable sake favor. Whoops, I take that back, allowed XH to warm more and got both dryness and sake flavor.

The mouth feel is medium bodied with adequate carbonation.

Drinkability is reasonably good.

This is my first sake cask aged beer and I am not sure what it really adds. A little over priced for what you get. Still a nice, balanced beer.

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Photo of tempest
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ordered a bottle at the Acadia Cafe. It was import night and $5 instead of $10. I was expecting sake and barrel character, but instead I got a surprisingly good sour strong ale. The brett is right up front with a sour citrus and earthy notes following. There's a bit of orange rind and grapefruit that could really be wild yeast or hops, but it tastes good and the source doesn't matter. There's a slight sugar candy taste I assume comes from the sake barrels, but this is really a big sour beer.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured into a goblet. Has no freshness date on it. Beer is reddish brown and hazy. Forms a thick white head that falls away after a few minutes to a thin head that covers the top of the beer leaving behind a lot of lacing on the walls of the goblet.

Aroma is a mixture between a nice lager and a Belgian ale. Clean and bright aroma, mixed in are some alcohol and a distinct spiciness.

Beer is low bodied, much lower than I expected. Finishes cleanly. There is a definite flavor of alcohol and there is an odd bitterness and spice character. This could be from the barrels I suppose. I'm not a sake fan and this beer tastes nothing like sake. I'm not sure how well it picked up the flavors of the barrel. I am currently unsure which of their beers to compare it to. Oh well. Mouthfeel is a little odd, not much connectivity and the beer is really thin. Drinkability is OK. The beer gets better and the spice and bitterness makes more sense when the beer approaches room temperature. Wasn't my favorite.

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Photo of MPLS
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Lively carbonation and a light tan billowy head that has decent retention. Color is an opaque cinnamon like color. The beer possesses some lace as well. It was so carbonated that it was flowing like champagne out of the bottle upon initially opening it.

S: Spicy, belgian-like yeast, clove, rotten bananas, alcohol, hint of wood and sake, although the sake would have been negligible if I didn't know it was from sake casks. It becomes noticeable if you really sniff it out and I though limited in experience, I have had sake with sushi several times.

T: At first it has slightly sweet and caramel malt character. Once the sweetness is gone a big medical elixir for a short time before metamorphosing into a very dry peppery and spicy finish. An interested beer, that is quite smooth, albeit short of amazing still.

M: Bigger bodied that expected from the uber-carbonation, but certainly yields a certain sharpness on the tongue when you first sip it. Good.

D: I very interesting beer that blends several elements to create it. I would be hard pressed to seek a lot of this out often, but a great chance to knock another beer from Kiuchi down. I typically reach for their witbier.

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Photo of Florida9
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle. Coded XH.9.6

A: Huge, rocky, dark tan to light brown head. Good retention and lacing. Beer itself is a hazy copper color. There is some sediment.

S: A brown sugar and vanilla sweetness, mixed with a oak or cedar wood quality and a little sake booziness.

T: Starts with a malty sweetness. Then again the sake booziness shows its head, but not in an overpowering way. Its a little difficult to describe: There is the mild flavor of sake, but not necessarily the heat from it. Some oakwood as well. Finishes with a mild bitterness.

M: Medium in body with medium carbonation. Mine was certainly not the overcarbonated gushers that some of the previous posters have mentioned. Carbonation on my bottle was very well balanced.

D: Good. I really liked this one a lot. I served it alongside sukiyaki and worked very well. From my perspective, the sake is quite noticeable, but not overpowering, as the malt balances it out well. Interesting, playful, and complex.

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Photo of jampics2
2.51/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle at Adam's Holiday Beer Tasting. This was one of the ones I was looking forward to, as I've never pulled the trigger on purchasing one of these for my own consumption but have always been curious.

Cap comes off and takes half the beer with it. Huge gusher, finally settles into a muddy brown with amber traces and a thick yellow head.

The voracious gushing led me to believe something may be off, but now the smell is making it absolutely known. Sour funk dominates, perhaps a bit of sake and malt, but mostly an infected beer scent.

Taste is interesting but off because of the infection. Sour funk, a touch of alcohol burn (is that the sake?), and a sweet plummy malt work well but aren't like any ASA I've had.

Mouthfeel is all wrong. Way too much carb. Can't even taste some of the intricate details because it's assualting my tongue with bubbles.

Drinkability also suffers. Just too eclectic, if it's even an intentional thing. Not impressed with the execution, but the idea still has merit.

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Photo of SargeC
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Hazy copper colored brew with minimal carbonation. Minimal off-white head. Some yeast floaties.

Smell: Toffee, caramel, malt alcohol and piney hops.

Taste: Tangy citrus and smoky malt, with a hint of yeast. Has an old ale quality to it and a good alcohol bite. The wood aging is apparent.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a strong ale/ barleywine consistency. Dry finish.

Drinkablity: A decent brew, but not the standout that I had hoped for.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.32/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into pint glass dec7 2009

A hazy as can be orange/maroon with tonnes of carbonation and a heap of suspended particles. A fast falling thumbs width of head leaves no lace

S sweet oak, well I'm not sure if it's oak but wood nonetheless and a little hops

T very unique, I pick up on a fair amount of sweetness and some mint of all things along with a little earthy spice. I also get some fruit and just a tad of booze, this one's fairly complex and I must admit I didn't know what to expect so it was a pleasant surprise when all was said and done

M very creamy from the high carbonation and thick enough to hold its own, also it was a tad bitter and I knew I drank a beer because I was tasting it well after the glass was empty

D the booze was ever so faint and I found myself taking another sip before the last sip reached my stomach. I couldn't help trying to place the flavors and before I knew it the glass was empty

yet another intriguing Japanese micro brew, I'm so stoked that there's several more hitting the shelves here in Alberta that I've yet to try. not sure why I gave Japan so little credit when it comes to craft beer cause from what I've seen so far I would say I got a lot of drinking ahead of me, quality drinking

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.59/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark red-brown, with a gushing full soapy head, very pillowy.

S: Strong dark caramel malt, light barrel character, woody hops.

T: Quite similar to the smell. Sweetness comes initially with toffee, treacle. Not really sure where the sake barrels are coming from though, there is a boozy/spiritious quality overall. Definite hops but straight bitterness on the back end.

M: The excess carbonation doesn't help, but once it's coaxed out it's really quite smooth and warming.

D: An interesting beer, not a must go out and buy, but worth a chance for something different.

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Photo of Travlr
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The solution to gushing bottles is to drink the beer on tap. It passes the buck to the barkeep.
Appearance was cloudy deep orange with a medium white head that stays for quite a while and leaves reasonable lacing.
Smell had an unusual mixture of peach and apricot.
Taste was sour, lots of malt. Slight bitter edge. Not sue what the sake barrels donated to the effort. Finish reminded me of Lemon Pledge.
Surprisingly good body.
An interesting idea. I haven't tried it in a bottle, but those who did might want to give it a try on tap.

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Photo of TheEremite
1.95/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Gushed out of the bottle and poured murkey and over carbonated. Smells of oxidized alcohols and acetic taint. On first wiff I thought it might be a wild/sour ale, but I think it was just a contaminated attempt of a cool concept. It tastes of oxidized malt, bitterness and sour contamination. The sourness really clashes with the bitterness and nothing about the beer comes off well. I like the sake flavor in there but I can't get past all the flaws. I'm bummed. I was really looking forward to this beer. I think a sake beer could be done really well, but this one is a dumper.

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Hitachino Nest Extra High (XH) from Kiuchi Brewery
3.78 out of 5 based on 732 ratings.
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