Kiuchi Brewery: Hitachino Nest: Espresso Stout (Japan: Imperial Stout: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Sheer black with a caramel coloured stir of a head that froths up around the edge of the glass as the beer moves.

Nose: Bitter coffee mixes with chalk and a slight roasted character. Scrumpy. A light touch of fresh picked berries.

Body: Quite frothy texture with a slight pear cider tartness. Bitter. Malt drinks. Moderate black coffee influences but not heavily pervasive.  Touch of blackberries and blueberries. Becomes very smooth in texture as it settles.

Finish: Dry bitter coffee beans.  Very dry feel remains for a long time. Slight bitter chocolate and slight milkiness. The fresh tartness still has an influence.

Conclusion:  It is amazing how fast you can get used to abv inflation. Looking at this sprightly little 7.5% imperial Stout I thought “Oh good a light example”. Dearie dearie me.

It is a cheery “little” beer, though the coffee influence has less to do with it than the naming would suggest.  The main interest comes from a mild tartness that hangs around at the back, a slightly blueberry and fruit style.  It is a small touch but it makes all the difference.

While it is an imperial stout, the ease of drinking makes it seem more like a very well made standard stout with just a touch of emphasis on the coffee. The usual roasted and chocolate elements are more footnotes here than main players.

So a beer that, while I would not personally put as the best beer in Japan, does have an irrepressible easy going and fruity character.  If you could ditch it’s abv it would make a perfect session stout (as always if there can be such a thing).

A well made coffee and fruit stout, built for class not power.

Background: Oddly considering the discussion in the conclusion, this beer is listed as a stout on ratebeer despite claiming the Russian Imperial Stout style on its label.  Its abv is either high stout or low Imperial Stout. In the end I decided to list it as imperial stout as that is the style aimed for by the brewers.  This incidentally is listed on rate beer as the highest rate beer in Japan.  I never did find it while I was in Japan, though the bartender at the popeye bar did mention that they had it on tap just the last week. Rub it in why don’t ya. Ah well, never mind, I have drunk it now.