Kirin’s history in brewing goes back to 1885 and to a small brewery in the port city of Yokohama. British and German residents took over the Spring Valley brewery and renamed it The Japan Brewing company. In 1888 they launched a German style lager called Kirin. The brewery was acquired by the Mitsubishi family in 1907 and renamed again. There then followed a period of swallowing up smaller breweries, and partnerships with others (including Anheuser-Busch).
In 1954, Kirin became the number one beer distributor in Japan only losing that position recently to Asahi Breweries.
Due to their partnerships around the globe, Kirin (or to be more accurate, the locally brewed equivalent wherever you are) is widely available.
A Kirin is the Japanese unicorn, an animal-god that punishes the wicked with its single horn. It protects the just and grants them good luck. Seeing a kirin is considered an omen of extreme good luck – if one is a virtuous person.
Ingredients: Water, barley malt, yeast, hops, rice, corn
Rice? Corn? – Oh dear.
Kirin lager poured to a slightly hazy, pale golden colour, with a really thin, whispy, white head that disappeared as soon as I turned my back. The initial aroma was not encouraging, with a combination of vinegar and brown paper, and some musty, grainy tones. There was only the most basic, and faint, floral hop aroma. Very disappointing.
Light-bodied, it’s hard to distinguish any dominating flavours. It’s very lightly hopped with hardly any noticeable malt character. The little hop taste that is there has a very slightly lemon tea-like twang. There’s some obvious, artificial sweetness which, along with a dry graininess gives the beer a little crispness. It finishes with a somewhat oily, husky dryness and a metallic edge with a slightly bitter aftertaste, although even that’s subdued.
At 4.9% ABV, this is a very unimpressive lager. I’m sure the genuine, Japanese version is a lot better – it’s hard to see how it could be worse – but this stuff, brewed by Charles Wells in Bedford, is very poor. Perhaps their aim was to brew a Bud-type lager….ah, if only it reached those dizzying heights!
Food pairing? – Anything with some flavour should do the trick, the beer certainly won’t overwhelm even the most lacklustre of dishes.
Bland and boring, this is one tasteless and pointless bottle of beer. As soon as you see those words – rice and corn – that should be enough to set the alarm bells ringing (unless you’re shopping for a breakfast cereal). These are cheap additives used purely to maximise profits and if you use inferior ingredients, it’s hardly surprising when you end up with an inferior beer.