Beers of Japan – part 4, Ichioji Brewery

Having now visited four Japanese cities, I think I’ve managed to refine urban exploration to a fine art:

  1. Spend four hours wandering the streets appreciating the mix of old and new architecture, visiting shrines, and eating delicious food;
  2. Get restless, search Google Maps for “craft beer”;
  3. Somehow find your way home in strange city where the subway system is in a foreign language.

And so here I am! The result of this process, sitting in Ichioji Brewery taproom in Kyoto, rubbing shoulders with a friendly Finn (shout out to @tiiaviivanoora on Instagram) and guzzling glass after glass of delicious beer.

Destroy Angel IPA 6.5%

“The name and style are our challenges,” reads the beer’s description, setting the bar for the afternoon.

I know what you’re thinking: that beer looks lonely. Just you wait…

Destroy Angel smells like a beer from home. It’s citrussy, herbaceous, all I’d want from a traditional IPA, with notes of lemon, coriander and basil. Then there’s orange rind and cucumber on the palate, a brief flash of malt, before settling down to a robust, warming bitterness and ginger on the finish.

I enjoyed this beer, and would have very happily enjoyed another. 4/5

From left to right: Red Ale, Sout, Coffee Stout, appetisers

Red Ale 6.0%

Ichioji’s Red Ale is a dark copper in colour, slightly cloudy with little head. Someone might be able to detect an aroma under laboratory conditions, but in the conditions of this pub, there’s no smell to this beer at all.

The flavour is more interesting. It tastes darker than it looks: caramel apples and plum with some fairly dark malts in the mix. It’s still fairly light, though, and there’s not a huge amount of those surprising flavours. Some limited caramel on the finish.

This one’s ok, but I wouldn’t rush back to it unless it somehow had more flavour. 2/5

Stout 5.3%

A very dark, coffee brown with a persistent, toffee head, Ichioji’s Stout certainly looks appetising. It’s a shame then that there’s so little aroma to it, with just the barest hint of coffee on the nose.

There’s a little more on the palate: some patent, smokey, charcoal flavours. It’s like tbe burnt bits on a badly broiled barbecue burger. Surprisingly carbonated, which makes this stout fairly difficult to enjoy. A coffee finish isn’t enough to save it. 1/5

Coffee Stout, 5.0%

Dark brown again, but slightly lighter in colour and cloudier than the regular stout. There’s more coffee aroma this time, specifically cold-brew. It smells sweet and a little fruity.

There’s a decent kick of coffee on the tongue, with less smoke and more sweetness than the Stout. That evolves to bitter dark chocolate on the finish.

Both the Coffee Stout and the regular Stout taste of coffee, but this one tastes of better coffee. 3/5

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