Here is another example of how cool beer is: A Japanese company makes some good beer — that’s already cool enough.  But now they are aging some of their beer in sake casks.  Beer and sake?  Very interesting.

I came across this bottle of XH at Kahn’s in Indianapolis, which has a terrific selection of beers.  XH means Extra High, apparently referring to the alcohol content.  I think the bottle set me back $3 or $4.  For an 8% ABV beer (Despite Beer advocate saying it’s 7%), it’s not a bad price.  After all, how many sake-aged beers do I come across? Beer is a profoundly interesting world.  On to the brew.

Here are the brewer’s notes:

Malts: Pale, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate
Hops: Chinook, Strian Goldings
Original Gravity: 1079
Alcohol Vol: 8.0%
IBU: 40
Color: Copper Brown

The Pour: They call the color copper-brown, I called it orange-red, but both are close enough for government work.  The body of the brew was very clean, active, and bright with a stable, light-colored head. As many of you know, I don’t normally note how well a beer laces, but this one does lace very well.

The Nose: I noted some powdery yeast tones, citrus qualities, and alcohol.  Malts hung nicely amidst the alcohol, which balanced the sake.  I could tell some sweetness was also left in the palate.  At any rate, the sake tones were certainly strong and almost vinous (wine-like).  In addition, a woody and earthy quality also came through.

The Taste: Sock my sake!  Plenty of sake was present on the taste, which lent to XH having a sizable alcohol tone.  The hints of citrus were also fairly predominant in this Hitachino offering.  Residual sweetness and mineral, woody, as well as other earthy tones were the backdrop for the beer.

Overall, this is a good beer.  I would have liked to see more heaviness and mouth-feel to balance out the strong sake/alcohol flavors.  The citrus and earthy qualities were very nice elements that it more enjoyable.  Just thicken it up a bit, and it would be very good (maybe a barley-wine style?).  This certainly isn’t the best barrel aged beer that I’ve had.

Mikes’s Rating:

Overall Satisfaction: ★★★½☆ 


Among other cask aged ales: ★★★☆☆