Sometimes it’s hard to think up a way to introduce a beer to everyone. I think of what spin I can put on it to intro into reviewing a beer. Other times, I really need to do very little to think up a way to introduce a great beer. This beer pretty much writes itself. There really is only one way to tell everyone the interesting story about this beer. This beer was in the midst of its mashing process on March 11 when a massive 9.0 earthquake hit Japan. Hitachino Nest, like everyone else in the area, had to flee for their lives. They were unable to return to their brew for three whole days. When they returned they found that fermentation had already begun, and the tanks were tilted on their side. They could have scratched it and started over, but they decided to bottle and sell the product none the less. They were only able to produce 8,000 bottles from the earthquake tanks, but thankfully I was able to get a hold of a bottle myself. It kind of felt like I was getting a bottle with a little historical significance to it.
It’s a little strange trying to figure out the style of this beer. I don’t think it really follows any of the same processes for the normal production of any particular style of beer. I guess an earthquake will do that, but they do label it as one particular style. It is a Witbier. Looking up the style of a witbier, you can clearly see that it doesn’t exactly follow the original concept of a witbier. A witbier is supposed to be a pale and cloudy beer that is heavy on wheat and some oats. Most of the flavors tend to be concerned with coriander, lemon and orange peel; however, as you’ll see with the review, a lot of these flavors got a little more rich and muddled as they continued to age. Ultimately I’m not sure this a beer they could, or ever would, be able to produce again. Regardless, it’s a little piece of a big historical event in the history of Japan.
Unlike what a normal witbier normally produces, this beer pours out a very dark amber and brownish color. There is a light amount of head on the pour, but it does result in some light lacing and only a slight hint of sticky residue. The beer is slightly hazy and you can view some very slight carbonation in the glass. Ultimately it appears to be a much richer and heftier beer than the one the one they were intending to produce before a big old earthquake hit.
The sweet malts are the biggest aroma that I pull out of this particular smell profile. They have a very fig and raisin aroma to them, and they also are resulting a very big booze smell as well. There is some very slight orangey citrus aroma to the beer, and you get a huge clove smell to back up the orange as well. The clove isn’t all that surprising as it is a Belgian beer; although, I think they didn’t use a specific yeast on this one. I think the yeast was more spontaneous. The yeast does have some big spice to it, but it does mix with some of that big dark fruit to balance it.
The beer intros in with a lot of really sweet malts. These have some ample orangey citrus involved in the introduction as well. This quickly gives way to some huge yeast with a lot of clove involved as well. This blends well with the hefty amount of fig and raisin taste that comes in on the back half. I’m surprised these come in so late on the brew, but they certainly come in for the finish. There is a little bit of residual citrus on the back as well, and you get a lot of booze on the ending as well. There is a little bit of long-lasting sweet malts that linger on the finish as well.
There is a ton of carbonation throughout most of the beer. This disappears fairly quickly as you allow the beer to warm. There is a lot of obvious sweetness and booziness to the entire brew that tries to break through the carbonation most of the time. Overall, I think it may be slightly too sweet and figgy for me, but I do like it quite a bit. It’s not really crisp and refreshing. I guess it’s slightly more of a sipper.
They made 8,000 of these bottles, so I’m not sure how hard they are to find; however, if you do see it, you should definitely pick it up. I’ve enjoyed most everything I’ve had out of Hitachino Nest, and I’m glad they were able to take a terrible thing and turn it into something they could actually use and sell. It has a definite history to it, so I think it’s hard to pass up this bottle. It’s good on top of that.
Teacher Grade: B