I went to the store looking for a different beer. In my last two reviews, I've tried two Belgian Ales (whether they're actually from Belgium or not), and I wanted to try something different. Something from a different country. How stoked was I when I saw Hitachino Red Rice Ale, from Japan, on the shelf?
"Red Rice Ale?" you ask? Well, they make sake from rice, and that's just wine. I'm sure it's not much of a stretch to make beer. Upon pouring, it looks like your standard pale ale at first glance, albeit a little cloudy. On a second look, it's a little lighter in color. Like there's some pink in there somewhere. On the nose, it smells a little like fruit. Say, strawberry. It's more subtle I expected. It was driving me crazy until I placed it. That is to say, it smells more like an India Pale Ale than a regular ale. It's not overly bitter like an IPA, though. It's slightly sweet on the tongue, and it's smooth as hell. Goes down really easy. This beer is delicious. There's no reason why you shouldn't buy this beer.
I've researched the Hitachino on a few sites, and the general consensus is that it tastes like sake. Even says so on the Kiuchi website. I think I need to go against the grain on this one. Just because this Japanese alcoholic beverage is made with rice, it doesn't mean that it's going to taste like other rice-made Japanese alcoholic beverages. I've never had red rice sake, so maybe it's similar in some respects, but if my memory serves me correctly, it's not like any sake I've had the pleasure of drinking.
At 7% alcohol, don't plan on going anywhere for a minute or two. Not that you'll want to. It's an excellent sit-around-on-a-Summer-afternoon beer. Too bad I'm writing this on a Sunday night.
I've been buying all my beers for these reviews in the 'tall-boy' size, somewhat inadvertently, but it's allowed for one and a half to two glasses of whatever beer I'm testing, which has been perfect. Especially for the Hitachino Red Rice Ale. If I could find this one in a sixer, I would buy it without thinking twice. If I ever owned a kegerator, I wouldn't hesitate stocking it at least once with Hitachino. And if it were in a restaurant, I'd buy it if I were eating anything besides a steak. Chicken. Fish. Kobe beef burgers. It's all fair game.
Expect at least $8 for the 720mL version.
Let this be the official installation of the "Best of 5" rating system for beer. I'm happy to give Hitachino Nest Beer Red Rice Ale: