Tag Archive: Baird


Stone Baird Ishii Japanese Green Tea IPA 2015

Stone: Baird: Ishii: Japanese Green Tea IPA 2015 (USA: IIPA: 10.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Inch of creamy head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Minty. Pinecones. Pineapple. (Ok, yes, high quality green tea) Wet rope. Ice cream and chives.

Body: Apricot. Moss. Good hop oils and bitterness. Tannins. Green tea. Mandarins. Vanilla fudge. Slight frothy thickness. Palma violets. Acrid bitter core.

Finish: Peppermint. Hops. Hop oils and good bitterness. Green tea. Tannins. Tea bags.

Conclusion: Ok, I am very aware that for, say, seventy percent of the people reading this me just saying “this tastes like quality freshly made green tea” will not actually be that helpful. Even though it totally does. Me saying “This even tastes like that green tea I had in a garden in Tokyo” would be even less helpful, mainly because I didn’t specify which garden. It would also be true though. It was awesome.

So I will try to use other comparisons, so to attempt to be vaguely helpful. Because I am nice.

Ok, initially, as I took my first sniffs of the aroma I was wondering if I was getting slight psychosomatic influence on the whole green tea thing. There was this kind of we rope aroma, a real thick rope, like you use in PE class, along with a greenery with some mint notes over a more standard resinous IIPA base. Nice, but I wasn’t quite sure if I was imagining things.

The body helped set me right. It has that froth green tea feel somehow, along with the greenery and tannins. The hop bitterness backs it nicely so you don’t just have alcoholic green tea. The hop bitterness is met and raised by the more acrid, herbal tea bitterness at the core. While less obvious there are other elements of the IPA base there. The sweetness is drier than usual, more fudge than toffee, and there is hop fruitiness, but very subtly so. Its more a matter of pushing enough contrast to end up emphasising the green tea.

The finish closes off the image perfectly, a kind of mix of peppermint and hop oils along with green tea. Again, I am surprised at how well this works – the green tea is given pretty much free rein, but the hop oils, resins and bitterness mix with it to make this very much a beer and very much an IPA.

This is a unique beer, to my experience, and one of the best tea based beers I have encountered. It really shows all that tea and hop bitterness, and the difference between the two – while using them together to create a distinct IPA experience. Probably the only flaw is it is too heavy duty to have too often, there is very little softening the beer.

So, not an anytime beer, but one you should try – well as long as you like bitterness, and not just hop bitterness – but it is a delight and great beer alchemy. It doesn’t quite get the favourite tag, only as it is a beer for rare occasions, but on those rare occasions – seriously it is one you should experience.

Background: Ok, I’m a fair fan of Japan, and did enjoy the green tea when I was over there – especially when we got to try some of the good stuff. I’m also a huge fan if IPAs, especially the huge American style. So, yeah It was pretty much inevitable I was going to buy this when I had a chance. Picked up from Brewdog’s Guest beer selection, this is the second brew of this beer, with different hops and slightly different recipe to the first batch. Drunk while listening to Rise Against – Endgame, yes, again. I am predictable some times.

Baird Brewing: Teikoku IPA (Japan: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy brown with some loose sediment. Large mounds of off white froth for a head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Light earthy and hay fields.

Body: Bitter and quite earthy. Toffee malt backbone. Cinnamon. Malt drinks.

Finish: Earthy, bitter and hoppy. Slight gritty texture and slight dried apricot.

Conclusion: Ok I know British hops can be earthy, but why is it that whenever anyone outside of the UK does an “English Style IPA” it always ends up tasting like someone dropped soil in the brewing vat? Ok, ok actual British beers can do it as well, but there is a lot more to them than just that. Why is it always the earthy hops that are taken for inspiration?

If you haven’t guessed yet this is quite the earthy IPA, well for the first third anyway. It does get lighter, but more on that later.  The particular bottle I had was pretty volatile as well, with lots of froth on pour and loose sediment evident.  Maybe I just did a bad pour, but it seemed to froth up in nigh microseconds.

The aroma is the most subtle part, with some light malted chocolate amongst a light earthiness. Called to mind their angry boy brown ale, which is a good thing. Main body however is pretty much raw bitter earthy hops. In fact, because the malt background isn’t very powerful the bitterness comes through here a lot more than you would expect. This does mute with time, and becomes a more subtle earthiness, but nothing really stands up to take its place.

This leads to the beers main sin of being quite dull. The malt chocolate and toffee backbone never pushes enough, and while initially impressively bitter the hops are quite one trick.  There are hints of other elements, but without much definition. It’s all a bit lackluster really.
The beer is still drinkable, but not one I would recommend.

Background: After a bit of research it seems Teikoku means “Imperial” so the beer is called Imperial IPA, a beer style which at 6% it blatantly bloody isn’t.  However, I presume the less literal reading “Empire” is intended, i.e Empire IPA. Which would make sense. Any smart arse who points out that it could also mean “The Appointed Time” will have to take my word for the fact that the Kanji’s don’t match up for that reading.   (The Kanji is only visible on the side of the bottle which isn’t in the photo). Anyway, as you may have guessed form that digression I am a tad a fan of Japan, and so far the Japanese craft beer scene has been pretty good.  This beer was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section.

Baird: Angry Boy Brown Ale (Japan: Brown Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown.  Large frothy chocolate ice cream tinged bubbles. Very heavy amounts of suds left around the glass.

Nose:  Chocolate. Malted drinks. A touch of mandarin orange when the bottle is first opened, but fades quickly.  Lots of ground chocolate dust.  Cinnamon and apricot.

Body: Chocolate. Tingling hop character. Quite dry back with just a slight acid tartness. Sour red grapes at back. Touch of caramel. Very smooth texture. Black cherry jam.

Finish: Dry bitter chocolate. Apple acidity. Slight chocolate dust. Slight red grape jam. Apricot.

Conclusion: The brown ale. A much maligned style.  This however is a very confident interpretation of that style. Lots of chocolate in malt chocolate drinks style and ground chocolate dust. With the nice base thickness of the beer you have a good, noticeable sweet, base to work off.

It’s strongly malt and chocolate driven, but gives the fruit hops just a touch of play resulting in a delightful cherry and jam touch that works well with the barest hint of fruit acidity. I always consider that acidity an important part of a brown ale, it keeps it tart and easy to drink against the potentially strong chocolate or nut flavours.  While understated the presence of acidity here does its job.

Very rounded, very solid, good malt and carefully placed hops. This is a delightful little drink. Soothing yet pleasant.  I find therefore its choice of name odd – “Angry Boy”. It seems misplaced, it is more of a wise old man, acting with forethought and each step considered. Yes there is bitterness, but its use is careful and balanced not thrown with wild abandon.  In fact the “Angry Boy” term would seem to apply better to their other ale Ganko Oyaji (Stubborn Old Man) Barley Wine – that definitely had an angry kick.

Anyway, it has a nice hop balance but is still a late night malt drink styled beer in my eyes, one to wind down with. Maybe feel the wind rush by and let the night sweep in as you swirl it in your hands. A very proficient, enjoyable and well crafted beer, all the more so for coming from such a disrespected style.

Background: Have I mentioned I like Japan? Yes? Ok cool no need to cover that again. Baird have been ok so far In my experience, no high points that match the best of Hitachino Nest or Hakusekikan, but good. I actually like brown ale as a style, even if there are some majorly dull entries in its ranks.  The sweetness, tartness and oft comparatively low abv tend to make them good session beers for me.  Incidentally the bottle picture is majorly cool in my opinion. Picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section – Yes,  I’ve been hitting them quite a bit recently I know.

Baird: Suruga Bay: Imperial IPA (Japan: IIPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear honeyed apricot amber. Good thickness of white bubbled head yet low carbonation on the body.

Nose: Passion fruit. Custard. Mango, peaches and syrup, Tropical fruit juice drink.

Body: Peaches. Hop bitterness. Pineapple juice and grapefruit.  Solid bitter middle. Smooth and slightly thickened texture. Custard sweetness. Slight mint.

Finish: Grapefruit. Peppermint. Bitter hops. Pineapple. Thick clinging hops.

Conclusion: Imperial IPAs live or die by their hops.  It’s just the way it goes.  This one goes very much for the tropical flavour, with peach being the unusual but tasty pick for the primary punch.  This makes it very juicy and sweet. It comes off like a tropical punch with hop bitterness thrown in for good measure.

While bitter it keeps it restrained mid body, saving the punch for the end. On the down side the hops are a bit clingy in the finish, though that could be a side effect from the bottle having to come so far to be drunk. I have noticed highly hopped beers can become slightly sticky in a comparatively short space of time.

While it doesn’t punch the same level of flavour as say, Wipeout IPA, it is fruity fresh drink and the emphasis on sweetness and peach is a good choice creating a fantastic sweet/bitter contrast.

So a few flaws, but generally a good ‘un. A tasty IPA with a touch thicker texture than normal.  Japan is turning out to have fine craft beer scene growing.

 
Background: Baird have before this had one very good and one mediocre beer to their name in my experience. Oddly the bottle image initially made me think of the Gotenba Kohgen before I realized which brewer it was actually from.  Picked up at the great British beer festival.

Baird Beer: Rising Sun (Japan: American Style Pale Ale: 5.0% ABV)

Visual: hazy amber orange.

Nose: Light coriander, hops, slight sharp and citrus. Ginger.

Body: Good hops, bitter, fluffy wheat grain. Dry grain back.

Finish: Dry bitter hops, rising out of which comes sour orange tones.

Conclusion: A simple forthright pale ale, no trims and not something special but does the job. Of all the beers I’ve had in Japan this seems the closest to its English pub equivalent.

Not bad, not great, but it fills a fine moment (And oh so conveniently came with free food which made me oh so very better dispositional towards it)

Baird: Ganko Oyaji Barley Wine (Japan: Barley Wine: 10.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark and cloudy ruby/chestnut brown with a thin dust of a head.

Nose: Coriander, barley and ginger. Full bodied and rich, touch of malt chocolate and cherries.

Body: So very sweet, strawberry, cherries. Bitter chocolate at the back. Brown sugar. Vanilla and cream.

Finish: Bitter hops, very dry, wheat. Dry oakiness and malt chocolate. Sour cherry.

Conclusion: This is a full bore barley wine with a lot backing it up. It’s harsh but has brilliant cherry and chocolate elements which off sets it with sweetness.

Rich, rounded and punches like a mule – Truly it is a stubborn old man stomping flavour across your tongue at the translation of its name suggests. Definitely give it a try if you find it, one for sipping and relaxing – maybe whilst complaining about the state of the kids today.

This compares well with the best of the barley wines.

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