Beers of Japan – part 8, Nara

A long time ago, before Tokyo or even Kyoto were Japan’s capital, the ancient city of Nara was the seat of government. These days, it’s a relatively small city, mostly famous for its enormous Buddha statue and deer who’ve learned to bow in exchange for food.

Unless you drop your crackers on the ground, in which case all manners go out the window

Fortunately for me, there’s more to it than just that: the area also offers a number of bars selling local craft beer.

Nara Brewing Co, Monolith 5.8%

Monolith is a SMaSH (single malt, single hop for those allergic to jargon) American IPA. It uses German two-row malt and Mosaic hops. Already I’m expecting this to taste of spring.

Each beer comes served on a card with the corresponding tap number

Monolith is hazy, sunshine gold with a thick, fluffy head. The aroma is mild, with characteristic Mosaic notes of tropical fruits, mango and grapefruit, followed up with a herbaceous, grassy twist. The palate gets a shock of bubbles first, but then those tropical fruit notes follow through. It’s dry, which keeps it from feeling overindulgent, and leaves a lingering, tangy orange finish.

Maybe I was just thirsty, but I really enjoyed this beer. 4/5

Okuyamato Beer, Herbal Ale 5.0%

Brewed with locally grown rice and using orange peel, coriander, lemongrass, rosehip, and nutmeg additions, this herbal ale already sounds less like a beer and more like a curry.

Eagle-eyed readers will spot I forgot to move the other beers out of shot

The Herbal is the colour of marmalade and very cloudy. The aroma is mostly nutmeg with a hint of coriander: unsurprising given the additions.

Then it hits the tongue. Holy shit, there is a lot going on here.

Lemon leads, rounding off to lemongrass. It goes from refreshing and citrussy to surgical disinfectant and strangely numbing over the course of a few seconds. The nutmeg finish is just plain odd.

This beer tastes like an experiment, and I’m afraid I disagree with the hypothesis. 1/5

Nara Brewing Co, Woody Poco 4.3%

An old English ale aged with roasted oak chips? I’m listening.


Walnut in colour and completely clear, Woody Poco has a very faint plummy malt sweetness on the nose. The flavour is where things start to get interesting: plum, then mild oak smoke, maturing into fruity red wine. The ale rounds off into a sweet, slightly spicy finish.

It’s not blowing anyone’s socks off, but this is a decent beer – more suited for the winter months. 3/5

Nara Brewing Co, K-Tripel 9.5%

This Belgian-style Tripel has been aged for months with lightly roasted Ethiopian coffee beans. I’m expecting something interesting here.

K-Tripel colour adjusted
Again, if all the beers are the same price, I’m honour-bound to order the strongest one

K-Tripel is pale amber and slightly translucent, sporting a thick, white head. The coffee beans appear first in the aroma: they’re light and fruity, with notes of raspberry. It’s the same story on the palate. It’s weird to be getting so many coffee flavours from a beer this light, but the effect is startlingly good. An edge of alcoholic warmth reminds you this is a tripel. Then a hint of smokiness on the finish, kept fresh by the fruity sweetness.

This is amazing. I want three more. 5/5

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