Beer Review – White Ale, Hitachino

Japanese wheat beer? In my Tesco? It’s more common than you think.

This certainly wasn’t what I expected to find when I popped out for a a bunch of bananas. Aside from the initial surprise, however, much of Hitachino’s White Ale is as expected.  The label is very nicely designed, using a black text/blue background mix reminiscent of a Ghibli opening credits sequence. And the owl! I am in love with that cute little owl. I’ll be keeping the cap to put on my pinterest or whatever.

Hitachino White Ale
LOOK AT IT

White ale is not very white. It’s made from a wheat beer base, but to that Hitachino has added orange zest and nutmeg. As such, it’s hardly a surprise that it pours pale orangey yellow and cloudy, with a smell like oranges and nutmeg.

The first taste is overwhelmingly of nutmeg, then orange, then bitterness that tastes more like it comes from orange rind than from hops. It’s a little sour, but again that feels like it comes more from the addition of citrus than any yeasty byproducts. A while afterwards, I smack my lips and come across a quiet, biscuit aftertaste almost too small to notice.

People often mention balance when they’re talking about beer (or at least I do). It’s far from being the most important factor – there’s plenty of great beers where the flavours don’t balance out at all; some are even great precisely because they’re unbalanced. But there’s a limit. Hitachino’s White Ale tastes like someone has grated nutmeg into fizzy, bitter orange juice. As much as I love the owl on the label, I can’t bring myself to love this beer.

It’s cute, and a nice novelty. But I’d recommend just appreciating the label, rather than actually trying to drink any.

2/5

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