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Home / Doug's Beer Republic  /   Review: Hitachino Japanese Classic Ale

     
Hitachino Japanese Classic Ale 
Posted: 18 March 2015  Beer Republic 8.5 
Hitachino Japanese Classic Ale from Japan In their Japanese Classic Ale, Hitachino says it's trying to brew the type of beer that was available in Japan during the Edo period. It's effectively an India Pale Ale made with traditional British hops and aged in cedar casks.  If mainstream Japanese beer was this good back in 1860, then Japan has fallen a fair way since.  
Avg price/liter: USD 17.85   ABV %: 7.0  Type: IPA   
       


A casual few sips in November of Hitachino at a beer bar down the street from my residence led me to order the entire range -- available in Bangkok -- last weekend.       

Hitachino deserves lots of points for originality.  The brewery seems to embrace the best of Western and European brewing traditions while, as much as they can, incorporate Japanese elements into their beers.  At no time does Hitachino ever try to hide their Japanese origins.        

In Hitachino's Nipponia, they experimented with Japanese barley and Japanese hops.  In their Japanese Classic Ale, Hitachino says it's trying to brew the type of beer that was available in Japan during the Edo period.  The Edo period spanned from 1603 to 1868.  Now the oldest brand of beer in Japan is Sapporo, which was first brewed in 1876, after the Edo period was over.  I think what Hitachino must be going for in their Japanese Classic Ale is the type of beer Japan imported during the latter part of the Edo era (1853 till the Edo era ended) after Commodore Perry pried open Japan to the rest of the Western world.    I imagine these Edo brews would have been the cask-aged ales Britain was exporting to other parts of Asia.      

Because that's effectively what the Japanese Classic Ale is.  An India Pale Ale made with traditional British hops and aged in cedar casks. It's a great combination, but to me, it tasted more like a very competently made American Pacific Northwest IPA.         

If mainstream Japanese beer was this good back in 1860, then Japan has fallen a fair way since.              

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