Tag Archive: Shinsyu Natural Beer

Tokyo Black ShinSyu

Yo-Ho Shinsyu Natural Porter (Aka Yona Yona Tokyo Black) (Japan: Porter: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate creamy fudge coloured head.

Nose: roasted. Hazelnuts. Bitter cocoa. Coffee. Chalk.

Body: Fudge. Charring. Thick, slightly oily feel. Black liquorice. Tarry. Bitter chococlate. Purple peppers*. Black cherry.

Finish: Bitter and charring. Chalk. Bitter chocolate. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: This is a bitter one. Bitter chocolate, bitter coffee, slightly oily and tarry in feel. An impressive load out for the abv. However, does that mean it is any good?

The flavours are in the expected range of chocolate and coffee, though with the bitterness way up. More viscous than normal as well, having elements usually associated with the stronger stout style. The harsh edges are cut slightly with a fudge sweetness that makes it manageable, with a chalk dryness to ground it. Late on you get black cherry which helps open it up a touch.

The texture is light at the edges, thick and oily in the middle. Clinging and intense it rolls between the bitterness an fudge sweetness. All in all, pretty heavy and brings a lot of character to what would be a pretty standard set of expected flavours. This makes them seem new and more interesting than they would otherwise.

All in all, pretty impressive. Pushing the envelope of intensity but keeping it just within the lines. There is no compromise though, Like the Imperial Stout Mikkeller Black it kicks out the bitterness, though at far lower abv than that beast of a beer. Another impressive achievement. There is nowhere near the sweet or liquore like elements that those Imperial Stouts bring though.

A beer of slow immense weight, delivered more in texture and bitterness than flavour, but impressive for that.

Too bitter? Maybe, depending on your tastes, but it shows class and confidence in its characteristics. Give it a look and see if it works for you. Even if it is not, the craftsmanship cannot be denied.

Background: After looking up the Blond Ale and realizing it was a yo-ho beer I suddenly wondered -Was the porter I had seen then Tokyo Black. The answer, it turns out, according to rate beer, is yes. So on the way out of Matsumoto station I grabbed a can for later drinking. As well as being in ratebeer’s top 50 japanese beers, it was also in 1001 beers to try before you die. I try not to let such lists run my drinking, but when in an unknown beer scene they tend to give reasonable starting points to work from.

* note it has been a long time since I had purple peppers last. My memory may be a tad off.

Local Beer
Shinsyu Natural Beer: Blond Ale (Japan: Golden Ale: 5% ABV)

(According to ratebeer aka Yo-Ho: Yona Yona Local Beer)

Visual: Banana to grain. Large inch of frothy bubbles packed in.

Nose: Banana sweets. Apricot. Banana itself. Ice cream and vanilla. Very light hop character. Cinnamon. Light soil.

Body: Sweet. Banana syrup. Passion fruit. Greenery. Hop oils and oily bitterness. Apricot. Resinous.

Finish: Cinnamon into bitterness. Greenery and hops. Slight hop oils. Soil.

Conclusion: Since I drunk this shortly after Minamishinsyu Golden ale it is hard not to compare the two. Minamishinsyu was fresh and tart while this is more earthy with somewhat of a British hop feel. More syrupy textured with the banana being used more as a base. This uses a much more hop oiled texture to deliver a heavier and less citrus filled bite.

I think I would be kinder to this beer if I wasn’t comparing the two, they have different aims, take on the style and strengths. However with the two effectively side by side I can’t help but think this is the weaker beer.

The syrup is a bit too strong and the hops not quite showy enough. It is workmanlike, and if you are into the heavier, more resinous feel then this does deliver. As an overall package however it feels too leaden. The flavours are there but it feels like the extra weight muffles rather than pushes them.

So, a bit sub par. I mean it isn’t wasabi beer level sub par, just a bit off that’s all.

I wouldn’t recommend it unless the alternative is Kirin Ichiban. If that is the case this beer beats it easily.

Background: I grabbed this at Matsumoto’s train station. Seriously, what is it with Train stations in Japan having a better beer selection than any but dedicated craft beer shops? Anyway it was a whimsy grab, and only on looking it up did I find the beer was an alias for Yona Yona Local Beer. I’ve been drinking quite a bit of Yo-Ho beers so far this trip. Anyway drunk after Minamishinsyu Golden Ale, with just a short break for a dip in the ryokan’s onsen in-between, so I was feeling quite refreshed and tingly by this point.

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