This year marks the 20th anniversary of a very special 193-year-old brewery.
They have never closed, and have been producing continuously since 1823, so how can they be 20 years old?
The answer lies in what is being brewed, and in some of the most innovative, thoughtful, and delightful products that we are proud to carry on our shelves. They all come from the Kiuchi brewery, who from their home in Japan send us charming, thoughtful sakes which they’ve brewed since the early 1800s, and mouth-watering beers which they began brewing 20 years ago.
We’d love to share a few of our favorites with you, in the hope that you find some new favorites for yourself.
Kiuchi sake has been brewed for a long, long time, with a sustained commitment to quality ingredients and traditional methods. Their careful processing coaxes wonderfully floral, fruity and nutty aromas from the rice, along with a beguiling mouthfeel that demands to be savored. As always, sake is best enjoyed with good food and better company.
Here are some of our favorites from this venerable house. What’s great for beginning sake drinkers is that Kiuchi makes the following sakes available in sample sizes. Five of their best are sold in a pack of 200ml bottles.
Asamurasake – ‘Morning Purple Red Rice Sake’ is made from a very unique red rice, and is indeed reddish-purple in color, with a very light spritz and refreshing berry flavors.
Tarusake – Sake slowly matured in Akita Cedar barrels. Look for flavors of white pepper, citrus zest and, well, cedar.
Kurahibiki – A complex sake made with ‘Yama Danishiki’ rice, specifically bred for sake brewing. A sophisticated sake with flavors of honeydew melon and lychee fruit.
Kiuchi began brewing beer in 1996 under the Hitachino Nest label, along with their iconic owl.
Led by their stalwart White Ale, their brews are typified by fresh spins on style, with a uniquely Japanese twist that intrigues your taste buds without shocking your sensibilities. If you’re lucky enough to find any of these beers on tap – drink them! Since we aren’t always so lucky in our draught choices, here are some of our favorite award-winning bottles:
White Ale – A Belgian-style witbier brewed with the subtle additions of coriander, nutmeg, orange peel, and fresh orange juice. Remarkably refreshing!
Anbai – Anbai means ‘salty plum,’ an apt name for this take on a German gose. The brewers ratchet up the alcohol on their White Ale recipe to 7% and add Japanese green sour plums and sea salt. Sounds odd, but the slightly tart and flinty flavors are explosive and addictive.
Red Rice Ale – An ale comprised of barley and red rice, fermented with sake yeast. The result is a malty brew, with a pleasantly earthy finish. It’s one of our favorite food beers, as it marries perfectly with all manner of meats and fatty fish.
Dai Dai – A dry IPA brewed with the peel of the ‘Fukure Mikan’ fruit, a wild Mandarin orange which is cultivated near the brewery. As with all Hitachino beers, it’s neither too bitter nor fruity, with all the flavors in balance.
Sweet Stout – An English-style milk stout, with decadent flavors of coffee, chocolate and roasted nuts. Not a dark or bitter stout, but a pleasantly sweet brew perfectly suited to dessert.