Tag Archive: Shiga Kogen


Lervig: Shiga Kogen: Yuzu Raga (Norway: Fruit Lager: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain to yellow. Clear body with a good sized off white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Tart lemon to jiff lemon. Tart grapefruit. Yuzu? Fresh. Yellow raspberry. Lightly yeastie.

Body: Lemon curd. Yellow raspberry. Yuzu? Flour touch. Palma violets.

Finish: Lemon curd. Tart lemon. Yuzu? Tart grapes. Clean sheen feel. Touch of bitterness and hop oils. Flour. Lightly gritty bitterness. Peppery.

Conclusion:Soooooo. Have I ever eaten Yuzu? I honestly can’t remember. I know I have had a variety of Yuzu based and infused drinks. Deffo had them. I just cant remember if I have ever had the thing itself.

Anyway, the tart fruit character is very up front here. Very fresh, mixing lemon, grapefruit and yellow raspberry like notes. Or probably just tastes like yuzu and I would know that if I could remember trying it.

Probably.

The lager styling beneath the fruit is clean, with a slight hop oil sheen. It has a good, slick texture and slight noble hop feeling palma violet notes. The mouthfeel is slightly bohemian pilsner like, but generally the lager is only here as a mouthfeel, the yuzu is here as the flavour.

Because of that it is kind of simple, but refreshing and smooth. One point of note it it uses a slightly gritty, and initially light bitterness. It rises to moderate bitterness, though restrained in mid body and builds to a nice kick in the finish.

It is a simple 1-2-3 punch. Good texture, good fruit usage, good underlining bitterness. Simple. Refreshing, exactly what it says on the tin. Hints of Bohemian pilsner, but with tart fruit and light bitterness.

May not be world shaking but bloody drinkable. I am happy with it.

Background: Shiga Kogen, been a while since I had anything from them. Tried a good chunk of theirs during my visits to Japan. Mixed bag, some great stuff, some average. Lervig on the other hand tend to be spot on. Anyway I’m guessing Raga is the Japanese spelling of lager when adapted to their katakana alphabet, what with this being a lager and all. Yuzu is tart citrus fruit. I may or may not have tried it. My memory is fucked. Another beer from Independent Spirit. Went with Ritualz – CDR for music. Wonderfully weird and haunting music.

SOBA Beer

Shiga Kogen: SOBA (Japan: Specialty Grain: 4.0% ABV)

Visual: Rich red beer with a dust coloured shimmer of a head.

Nose: Tart. Rhubarb. Cooking apples. Fruitcake underneath. Slightly sour. Wheat and dry malt. Cherries.

Body: Still slightly tart, Rhubarb and tart apples. Slightly dusty bitterness below. Noodles. Quite dry feel. Slight chalk. Light sugar dusting. Strawberry.

Finish: Slight bitterness. Slightly dusty. Wheat. Light elderberry and tart apple. Sugar dust.

Conclusion: Some beers just work that bit better on tap. Some beers taste better on holiday, which I’m sure is also true for this beer, but mainly the tap thing.  Which is my way of saying I first tried this on tap and it was bloody lovely.

This, then drunk in bottle, is still a pretty good session ale. Moderate abv, the buckwheat seems to make it slightly tart with subtle fruit flavours. It is fresh and easy to drunk, unusual with its rhubarb and elderberry flavours and backed by light bitterness for a slight edge.

Here, unlike the tap version, it does have a slightly dusty feel to the hop character that causes it to cling slightly, which brings me back to the comments in the opening paragraph.

That being, on tap this is bloody lovely. The bitterness is still light but fresher and crisper which when laid over the light sourness is great contrast. The texture is that touch thicker and helps deliver the unusual flavours. As of such I found the tap version a nigh perfect session beer and still interesting enough to have one solo. On tap it is then highly recommended.

Here, in bottle, it is still good, quirky and different enough to impress a jaded beer veteran.  The flavours with a tart mixing of styles and calls to Belgium saison influence, and even a feeling of wild yeast in inspiration if not in use.(Update: According to rate beer this is made with saison yeast.) It feels very much like a buckwheat saison.

So good, but not the gem it is on tap. That lightly clinging hop character lets it down just slightly.

So on tap, drink it through the night. It is brilliant. On bottle, still worth arty but moderate expectations accordingly. Still a refreshing and moderate abv beer that impresses.

Background: SOBA here stands for Shiga Kogen Original Buckwheat Ale according to the bottle, but Soba is also the name for buckwheat itself, and the noodles traditionally made from it. I drank it first on tap at Matsumoto, and  had a bottle picked up from Tokyo which I brought back with me to England for later consumption.

Shiga Kogen Brewery: House IPA (Japan: Imperial IPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Light amber gold with a thin dusty of bubbles around the rim.

Nose: Orange, citrus and hops. Lemon sharp and punchy.

Body: Barley, large dose of hops. Lemon. Fizzy but not overpowering. Maize.

Finish: Rising hops. Orange and barley.

Conclusion: A powerful no nonsense IPA. Its purchase led the staff to comment that it was both “Oishii” and “sugoi”, and it would be rude of me to disagree.

Its punch can sometimes overwhelm its flavour, but it’s a ride of powerful sensations. It doesn’t take its place in the crowed field of top IPAs but it’s a fine drink for a beer side chat, and the punch will ensure you remain alert and awake with senses primed for a good debate.

Not perfect and somewhat rough around the edges, but you cannot complain against its forceful nature.

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