Kyushi Shochu Trail

Brewery and Country of Origin: Kiuchi Brewery of 1257, Kounosu, Naka-machi, Ibaraki-ken Naka-gun, 311-0133, Japan

Date Reviewed: 1-13-14

Founded in 1823, the Kiuchi Brewery is a European style Japanese brewery which conditions much of its highly awarded beer in old distillery casks. In similar fashion to Allagash Curieux, or Alltech's Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, both of which are aged in bourbon casks, the Hitochino Nest beer line spends much of its production life in casks originally containing a distilled beverage called Shochu. This 25-45% ABV strength liquor was first brewed in Japan in the mid 16th century, after being brought over from places like India, and Persia. Shochu, also called "White Liquor", can belong to one of two tax-defined types, singly and multiply distilled. We say tax-defined, because as of 2006, Japanese law defines the restrictions on distilling the beverage, as well as the limitations on alcoholic strength. For example, a multiply distilled shochu needs to be less than 36% ABV (sometimes diluted), can't be filtered through charccoal, and can't use germinated grains as a base malt (so that brandy or malt whisky can't be considered shochu). There are other restrictions for this type, which ends up being sweeter than singly distilled shochu. These government enforced restrictions are similar in nature to Germany's Reinheitsgebot purity law, which also dictates the ingredients that can be used in brewing beer. According to Japan's National Tax Agency, more than 1 million kiloliters of Shochu was consumed in 2009, with about 53% of it being singly distilled. In volumetric total, domestic consumption of shochu was nearly twice that of Sake.
Date Sampled: 11-02-13 At: Shojo Restaurant, 9 Tyler Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA
Beer Style: Japanese Witbier
Alcohol by Volume: 5.00%
Serving Type: Keg, 16 oz Tumbler Glass
Rating: 2.87


Hitochino White pours fairly smoothly with a lower amount of carbonation action, giving this beer a third inch tall foam head with a good amount of retention, a medium high density, and a white color. This beer has a slightly hazy appearance with the inclusion of a small amount of very fine sediment. In bright light, this beer has a nice bright golden glow, and shows off a moderately light amount of effervescent effect. This beer laces an average amount.


This beer has a lower strength aroma with a delicate hint of floral hoppiness and a dull, but good amount of pale grassy malt. The aroma contains no alcohol or nutty/earthy like tones, and only a small amount of fruity citrusy hops. The aroma is slightly biscuity and cereal like.


This is a medium light bodied brew with overall light presence and a fairly crisp finish which offers a good amount of refreshment. This is an easy to drink beer which delivers a slight cooling effect, and contains an average amount of carbonation, a matching low weight, and a low viscosity. This beer has no alcoholic bite. This beer finishes with a slightly dry and lingering closing.


As indicated by the aroma, this beer has a good amount of pale malty flavor, with a very grainy presence and a somewhat sweet undertone, finished off by some subtle, yet dull floral hop secondary. This beer's flavor is fairly simple with no nuttiness and no alcohol based tinge. This beer's dry finish comes with a bit of fruity and citrusy notes, along with some very pale malt and a bitter overall flavor, which lingers for a bit.

Our Take

We'll start by saying that this is definitely one of the better Asian beers we've had to date. That said, this beer has no noteworthy historical competition, and considering its relatively high price tag, we were still fairly underwhelmed by its presence. This is a light, airy beer which doesn't offer any complex or bold flavors or aromas, and drinking it is as breezy as the refreshment it delivers. This makes for a good hot weather brew, but in the dead of autumn, we wouldn't recommend it. Still, this is unlike most witbiers we've had before, and this beer does have some merits. Delicate in nature, and with no particular aspect overpowering any other, this is a well balanced beer which pairs well with a wide variety of foods, especially lighter meals like salads or grilled veggies and mellow cheese.