Beer is Good – Grand Kirin

Kirin is generally the last of the major Japanese commercial beer manufacturers on my list, so you can guess how desperate or bored I was to pick this one up. I’ve had several of the Kirin premium line bottled beers before, and in general these are distinct in flavor profile from the standard Kirin Ichiban Shibori, but they still fall short of impressing me. The Grand Kirin is no exception. The label calls out, “rich malt and dip hop,” but this is not mirrored anywhere on the label in Nihongo in any writing system. I find this odd. There was another similar bottle labeled, “aroma hop,” or something, so the Japanese consumer has to differentiate the two (or possibly more) of the Kirin premium products by the English or label color?

The bottle is unique in having a plastic-sealed crimped aluminum cap. To open, a downward-pointing pull tab that is parallel to the bottle neck is first lifted, then pulled over, tearing the aluminum cap along score lines, releasing the circumfrential grip of the cap. Unlike previous versions of this bottle, this one has a significantly larger opening. I’m sure there is some marketing rationale like an easier pour or aeration. The beer does in fact pour nicely, and in fact develops one of the thickest heads of any Japanese canned or bottled beer I’ve ever tried. As expected, the head does not last long.

The initial taste is primarily bitter. This is from both the hopping and the carbonation dryness. The honey amber color would hint at a stronger malt flavor as called out on the label, but any distinct malt flavor note was extremely elusive. This was surprising considering the color. The bitter was so strong that it masked the malt from the initial taste through to the finish. They really don’t call anything out on the label, so I don’t know if any specific special premium malt or hops are used, but this is either a case of “using fine ingredients to make an ordinary product”, or “ an ordinary product in a novel container”. I did enjoy the bittering. The lack of a strong flavor made this beer seem more like a refreshing quaffing beer like a Wernesgruener than the premium beer it is packaged to be.

Give this one a pass unless you’re really bored – the bottle is fun to open, but not that much fun.

Ambivalent

Two out of four maltless monkeys

6% ABV

Only available in Japan

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