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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": Hitachino Nest Weizen

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 11, 2007 4:00PM

2007_07_botw28.jpgWhen one thinks of Japanese beer, the first to come to mind are Sapporo or Asahi. A Japanese brewery that we think deserves mention is the Kiuchi Brewery, which started out in 1823 brewing sake. They still do make fine sakes, but in recent years they've branched out into spirits distillation, beer, and have plans for making wines.

Kiuchi started the beer aspect of their business, Hitachino Nest, in 1996. The beers are notable for their easily identifiable labels (with their trademark owl mascot in the center of each label) and for the application of some sake brewing principles in the making of the beer, which adds more bite to the selections to which many beer drinkers aren't accustomed. In 2004, Hitachino Nest White Ale won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup. With the temperature in the mid-90's at the time of this writing, we felt the need for a weizen to make us forget about the heat. That meant that we wanted something with a little more acidity than most weizens. Hitachino Nest Weizen fits this description to a "t."

When we decanted this, we noted that familiar smell of cloves, banana, and yeast associated with the best weizens. The color of this brew was a medium orange. The head on this was thin, shockingly snow white in color, and faded fast, but the carbonation on Hitachino Nest Weizen was something to behold. It was so carbonated that the yeasty sediment one finds in many weizens danced around the glass for a long time. The added acidity of this beer lent a sharpness on the palate that we don't normally find on weizens. To balance this, we added a slice of orange to the beer, which did wonders in bringing out the flavor of the malts — a combination of wheat and pilsner malt. That slice of orange tied it all together, much like the rug that Woo peed on tied the Dude's room together. Chinook and Tettnang hops used to spice this beer were very nondescript, and the finish was slightly dry and lingered like a summer nap. Overall, the mouthfeel of this beer was amazing.

You'll find Hitachino Nest Weizen, and other Hitachino Nest selections, at West Lakeview Liquors and Lush Wine and Spirits. Pair it with some grilled kabobs or seafood, and see how well the two go together. Now you have other Japanese options besides Sapporo and Asahi. Hitachino Nest Weizen is Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week."