Kiuchi Hitachino Nest brewery stopped brewing beer in 2011 after the big earthquake in Japan, in order to produce bottled water for victims of the disaster. Their web site says that they restarted operations "in full-scale" in February 2012.
I picked up a bottle of Hitachino Nest XH (XH stands for "Extra High", presumably a reference to its 7% ABV) at The Andersons during a recent visit. XH is a Belgian Brown Ale, brewed with four different malts and two kinds of hops. Today, I finally popped the cap and poured it into a glass to try.
XH pours into the glass a very cloudy brown, with a decently foamy off-white head. There is very little aroma, mostly that of yeast. There are little white flecks floating through the brown. The flavor carries a tiny bit of oak spiciness from the Shocyu Sake casks in which the beer is "matured". There is a moderate amount of lacing in the glass as you drink it, which tends to flow back into the beer and doesn't remain on the glass. There is a mild but noticeable hoppy note to it. It seems less hoppy than its 44 IBU rating would indicate. It's a pleasant beer to drink, but not as complex or exotic as I expected given how it is brewed and matured. I'd describe it as above average, hence the 6/10 rating.
Beer Advocate rates Hitachino Nest XH 85/100.
The Hitachino Nest Sweet Stout is, in my opinion, a much better beer. I enjoyed it very much and will pick up a bottle occasionally. Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale is also pretty good, though I'm not sure I'd rate it higher than XH.
This beer was purchased at The Anderson General Store.
My rating: 6/10