Ginger is pretty magical. Receiving a green can of Seagram’s or Canada Dry ginger ale from an airline stewardess is the best inflight experience next to free Dish TV. Ginger candy is one of the few home remedies that settles your stomach and still tastes good. And let’s not forget how its unorthodoxly sweet and spicy flavors make your favorite meals taste all the better. Given that these are just a few reasons to eat ginger off the top of my head, it’s only fate that someone would one day throw this root into the mix when brewing beer. Well, Hitachino Nest did just that with their Real Ginger Brew.
Admittedly, alcoholic ginger ale isn’t the most original of ideas. Scotsmen—and many Americans these days—are familiar with the alcoholic Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, which has been around since the 1800s. While Crabbie’s and Hitachino’s are both technically in the same ginger beer category, the two beverages couldn’t be more different. Crabbie’s is sugary sweet and you can down it like, well, non-alcoholic ginger beer. Hitachino Nest veers in another direction creating a non-audacious ginger beer/ale flavor.
After popping the cap of the bomber, the beer pours a silky, orange-gold topped off with a respectable cream-colored head. Even before you start drinking the beer, the ginger is already punching you in the nose. The dominance is reminiscent of wok-fried ginger, which is more pleasantly fragrant than the raw stuff. Hints of sweet citrus and other floral notes come in to temper the star of the show, but they couldn’t steal all of the limelight.
Following the nose, ginger flat out dominates the taste. At 8% ABV, there was some booziness to the beer in addition to sweet honey and subtle nutmeg spiciness. As with the aforementioned citrus zest, which also comes through in the taste, second-tier flavors half-heartedly attempt to balance out the overall profile. In the end though, it’s ginger, man. G-I-N-G-E-R.
It’s hard to determine whether to call this thing a ginger beer or ale—that’s for the imbiber to decide. But if you love ginger, and I mean really love it, then this is the beer for you. If not, well, you’ve been warned.
Brewery: Kiuchi Brewery
City: Ibaraki-ken Naka-gun, Japan.
Style: Herbed/Spiced Beer
Availability: Year-round, 12 and 22 oz. bottles