Shikkoku

Coedo: Shikkoku (Japan: Schwarzbier: 5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Loose coffee brown bubbled head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Roasted barley. Slight charring. Fudge underneath all that.

Body: Roasted nuts. Slight chalk. Smooth texture. Toffee notes under. Charring and slight charred bacon. Black cherry.

Finish: Roasted. Peppermint. Light chalk and smoke.

Conclusion: Hmm, I’m in two minds on this one. Possibly due to comparisons with my favourite of the German Schwarzbiers.

This one is nice and very roasted. The nuts, smoke and charred touches give a slight harsh edge, and the rough edges of flavour are counterpointed (that is a verb now, honest) by the smooth texture. There is very subtle sweet contrast as well, some toffee and black cherry but it is very deep down under the roasted elements.

What makes me in two minds is for all the smoothness of texture it doesn’t quite have that grip and slight thickness of feel that really puts a beer in the top class of the style. The feel is a bit too clean which doesn’t quite work with the flavours.

Though, as indicated, the actual flavours are very good, especially on the roasted spectrum. The beer is also better cool, but not heavily so. You get some nice flavour as it warms up in your hand.

So, I will conclude that it is a reasonable beer of the style and uses its smoothness well but doesn’t bring the grip. It has some unexpected elements, most notably a welcome almost charred bacon like flavour. So sorted on the flavour, touch let down on texture. While Germany still has the best of the Schwarzbiers I’ve tried I will note they have a huge range to pick from, and many years of experience. While not the best this competes very well with your average every day beer in the style.

Background: Schwarzbier! Been a while since I had one of these, back in 2011 was the last review. Since I found this, which is currently one of rate beers listed top 50 Japanese beers, I thought I’d give it a try. This one was found in a food market under Shibuya station. Food markets are surprisingly good places to find craft beer in Japan. Also a lot of train stations have far better selections than you average dedicated booze store. Go figure. Coedo seem another reasonably common beer to find around Japan, especially in the aforementioned places. Drunk back at the hotel chilled down against the heavy duty Japanese heat of the day.

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