Japan is a country that embraces canned beer – the majority of beer in the high street, and even in specialist beer shops, is sold in cans.
As a traveler, this is a Good Thing, because even though I’m a beer lover, I don’t always travel with a bottle opener and there are few more depressing sights than an interesting-looking beer bottle in front of you with no way to get into it!
Occasionally, however, you come across a bottle like the one below – instead of a standard cap, it has a much larger neck and a top that pulls off like a ring pull.
This is Grand Kirin, a ‘specialty premium’ 6% beer. Visually, aside from the nice bottle there is little to distinguish it from a standard Kirin – bright, golden with a big but fleeting head.
The aroma is certainly heavy on the malt with a distinctly grainy character and a nice earthy hop tone.
In the mouth, there’s a sweet malt start quickly balanced with a sharp edge from the alcohol – if anything it tastes stronger than the declared 6%. Let it sit on the tongue for a little while and the hops begin to come through – earthy, slightly grassy and with a very distinct sticky oiliness.
It’s nice to find a ‘special edition’ that isn’t just the same old thing in a different bottle, even if I’m not particularly blown away by the result. 2.5 stars, but kudos to Kirin for being different.