I have had Hitachino Nest Beer before and thought it was quite good. But I stumbled across a unique beer of theirs in a market while on a business trip – 3 Days. After reading the story, I couldn’t pass it up.

On March 11, 2011 at 14:46, an earthquake rocked Japan as the Kiuchi Brewery was in the mash phase of brewing a batch of beer. Parts of the brewery were damaged, the fermenters were tilted at an angle, and they were unable to get electricity to complete the mash for three days. During this time, the mash began to ferment naturally from a lactic acid cultured in their brewery. The result was a one-of-a-kind batch of 8,000 bottles with about as much history as a batch of beer is ever likely to have (one must hope).

The beer is 8% and is honey-brown in color. The batch appears to be unfiltered as it has a distinct haziness. The smell is one of syrupy maltiness and the taste is a very sweet malted honey taste – almost no hoppiness. The look of it very much reminds me of unfermented wort from my homebrew days. Carbonation was low although it did produce a bit of head. But who couldn’t like a beer that is this unique – a true one-of-a-kind batch?

All in all, it was a good beer – more malty than almost anything I have had before as I don’t think they really got to hop it the way they probably otherwise would have. But it also one I really enjoyed. I will likely be returning to where I bought soon, and I fully plan on getting another bottle to put in my fridge for a special event. Its history makes it quite a special beer – and besides – its already been cellared, even while it was still in production.

Ok, so by now you are probably thinking of the Fukushima Nuclear incident and wondering whether I now glow in the dark. I can assure you that I don’t. But out of curiosity (and while drinking it), I decided to look up where the brewery was located relative to the epicenter of the earthquake. Perhaps I should have done that BEFORE I drank the beer, but nonetheless…. They are about 200 miles from Honshu, and the epicenter was 80 miles off the coast of Honshu. But the brewery is actually only about 77 miles southwest of the reactor that had the problem, according to Google Maps. In looking up the location of brewery, I found an interesting item on their website... Apparently they have had their beers tested for radiation. They even post the April 1, 2011 inspection report on their site. Thankfully they found no radiation in the beer, which was a good thing as I only had about 4 ounces left when I came across it.

So, if you like malty beer and happen across a bottle of Hiatchino 3 Days, I would recommend grabbing a bottle for when you want to impress some friends with a truly unusual beer.

I was recently having a conversation with a bar manager while having a beer and he asked if I had ever had Haand’s Barrel-Aged Porter. I had never had it and am always up for trying different beers so I ordered one.

His big selling point was that it was aged in Akevitt barrels. I bet you’re wondering what the heck is Akevitt, right? I sure was. I wonder if we can get it locally? Might need to check into that.

I did a little research and found this on the HaandBryggeriet website – “Akevitt is said to be Norway's best kept secret. Akevitt was probably first made around 1500 and the Linie Akevitt first appeared 200 years ago. This spirit is aged in ex sherry barrels and undergo during aging a long sea voyage. Its supposed to cross the line (equator) twice on this voyage. It is customary for the ships to sail to Australia and back.”

The label art on the front of the bottle has some finger prints as if someone was holding the bottle and their hand wrapped around along with an ornate dragon that looks like something off of a Viking flag.

The back of the bottle has this short paragraph discussing the particular beer and the brewery:
“Once, all farmers in Norway made beer. Some also made Akevitt, a spirit flavored with herbs or spices. A shot of Akevitt was traditionally chased with a shot of beer. In a brilliant turn of one-stop-shopping ingenuity, the Haand brewers – four guys making beer in their spare time, on an absurdly small scale – have aged this traditional dark, hearty farm Porter in Akevitt barrels. 8% Batch 356 Total bottles 1080 Barrel-Aged Porter from HaandBryggeriet from Drammen, Norway members of the Scandinavian Craft Brewers Guild 1pt, 9 oz. 500 ml”

This is a BIG, bold beer. I was Surprised that it is only 8%. It has a traditional porter aroma. It poured with virtually no head at all and left a good bit of yeast sludge at bottom of the glass when I was done. This is a very smooth beer with low carbonation levels. There were heavy chocolate flavors notes. Little bit of spice finish on tongue, probably from the aquavit barrels.

This is a beer that will definitely find its way into my cart if I ever come across it in a store.

Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter is “proudly made in small batches” by The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville, North Carolina.

It pours a very dark brown, almost black and the tan head dissipates rather quickly. Any lacing that you might get is short lived and minimal at best.

On first sip, you notice the strong malt flavors along with some black licorice and some sort of fruits, maybe figs or prunes. The carbonation level is fairly light. The flavor profile changes as it warms up a bit lessening the bite of the fruit tastes, giving way to a more mellow and smooth malty flavor with a little bit of prune and nut tossed in.

It’s a very easy to drink beer and it goes down smooth. You can sense the 9% alcohol at the end of the sip along with a malty aftertaste with a little tobacco mixed in.

The label identifies the brewery as being “The Dark Beer Specialist.” It’s a pretty big claim but these guys walk the talk. If you come across this beer, don’t hesitate to give it a try.

 

I was sitting at a hotel bar and didn’t recognize any of the beers other than the yellow fizzy ones that I see advertised on TV. The bartender recommended Zatec. This being my first beer out of the Czech Republic, I didn’t know what to expect.

The 500 ml bottle has “Since 1004” on the label which led me to believe that these guys had to really know what they were doing, having been brewing for over 1000 years. Turns out, according to their website, they’ve “only” been brewing since 1801. That’s still longer than any of our U.S. breweries can claim. They say that the 1004 refers to when they started growing hops in the Zatec region.

The beer pours a dark brown and has a very creamy tan head. Lots of foam. The lacing was very apparent. The beer gave off a toasted malt aroma.

The malt flavor on the front of the sip turns into chocolate with a touch of toffee. There was little bitterness and I didn’t sense any hopiness at all. This beer has a medium body and was relatively dry. It has a moderate alcohol level at 5.7%.

If you like Guiness, you'll love Zatec.

We picked up a six pack of Bell's Porter on a recent trip to Georgia. Bell's Brewery is located in Comstock, MI. I've seen their Oberon in South Florida so I know that they have a presence in the state but I've never come across their porter until now.

The first thing I noticed upon pouring was its rich, dark brown color and a light tan head. It has a malty aroma with some coffee mixed it.

Not too heavy or thick. Slightly sweet. Taste starts with a strong malt taste which transcends to smoky and then coffee. The coffee aftertaste is slightly bitter but not in a bad way. Very smooth. I would rate the carbonation as mild-plus, not quite medium. The 5.6% alcohol doesn't stand out much, if any.

Not an overpowering beer at all. Bell's Porter falls into the category of beers that you can drink all night. I'd definitely buy this one again and will start keeping an eye out for it in my travels.

Sion BeerI came across Sion Beer at a local festival in South Florida. The beer booth had the usual macros on tap plus one beer that I had never heard of. Sion by Brauhaus, from Cologne, Germany. Figuring that it couldn't be any worse than the other taps of yellow fizzy water, I gave it a shot. It was a gamble that paid off.

The cup I was handed had very little head. The beer had a golden color and didn't give off much of a smell.

I immediately noticed that this beer has a medium body with a crisp, slightly hoppy taste and a medium carbonation level.

My wife's initial comment was that she thought that it was "similar to Bud but with something extra, more body, more umpfh."

I tried to do a little research on this beer to see if there was some sort of an interesting story behind it but their website was completely in German. Since Hogan's Heroes is no longer in syndication like it used to be, my chances of learning enough German to pass something along to you are pretty slim so you're on your own.

I did learn that it packs 5% alcohol but this is an easy drinking beer so there is no discernable alcohol taste or feeling. This is definitely a sessionable beer that would be great for the beach, a party, a ball game or any other venue where a red Solo cup could be found. This is one I'd buy again if I came across it again.

This is beer is brewed by Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, Florida. As the name suggests, it's a cream ale with honey added to it. Swamp Head uses Florida Tupelo Honey from the swamps of Northwest Florida because of it's taste and purity.

This beer was very pale yellow in color and had very little head.The aroma had a little sweetness to it with a slight honey scent.
Wild Night is a very drinkable brew with a light taste. It's pretty mild and there is a bit of honey sweetness surround by a grass-like flavor. This is not a really hoppy beer and the carbonation is in the mild to medium range. While the alcohol level is a tad high at 5.9% it was not noticable at all.

Wild Night is a beer that you can sit and drink all afternoon on a hot day. I could imagine myself drinking this out by the pool on a July afternoon or while cutting the lawn.

I came across Lindemans’ Framboise Lambic while looking for something different to enjoy with dessert one evening. I've had other raspberry beers that have been really good so I figured this one was worth a shot. I got a 750ml wine-style bottle and after peeling off the foil wrapping, discovered that not only did it have a traditional beer bottle cap, it also had a cork. I had left it in the refrigerator over night so it was in the neighborhood of the suggested 38-41 degrees listed on the bottle.

I started to pour it into snifter glasses and immediately had to back-off due to the thick foamy head that was forming. The beer itself had a purplish-rose color while the head was more of a dark pink. There was no mistaking the raspberry scent given off while the head dissipated.

The pucker factor kicked in when I took the first sip but the tartness quickly went away to leave the sweetness of the berries. Lots of sweetness. We paired this drink up with some Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies and the chocolate from the cookies together with the raspberry flavor from the beer was a marriage made in heaven.

The alcohol comes in at a low 2.50%.

While this isn't a beer that I would drink regularly, I'd have no hesitation serving it with dessert again.

This beer comes from Boonville, California and the label identifies it as "a unique beverage created to add warmth to even the coldest and darkest of winter's days."

One thing that jumped out at me when i picked up this bottle was that the cap stated that the brewery is solar-powered. Seemed pretty cool. The label says that it is to be stored between 40 and 45 degrees because it is not heat pasteurized nor sterile filtered, I got it from the unrefrigerated aisle of my local store. Fortunately, I did not notice any ill-effects from this.

This beer pours a reddish-amber in color. The sweet smell is very noticeable. I noticed a little spicy scent too.

The malts give it a caramel taste that goes well with the added holiday spices. I sensed nutmeg and cinnamon with perhaps a little citrus along the way.

While it packs a slightly higher alcohol level at 6.9%, it isn't overpowering.

The label says that it is to be stored between 40 and 45 degrees because it is not heat pasteurized nor sterile filtered, I got it from the unrefrigerated aisle of my local store. Fortunately, I did not notice any ill-effects from this.

This is a very drinkable beer. I wish I had bought more than one.

When you see this beer on the shelf, it's classy and elegant label screams out that it is something special.

Brooklyn Brewery calls this their "award-winning rendition of the Imperial Stout style, once made exclusively for Catherine the Great."

From the minute you open up and pour Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, it lives up to it's name. It's jet black in color and has a strong but pleaseant chocolate smell.

This beer has a strong semi-sweet chocolate taste that gives way to a toffee flavor. It's very flavorful and Warms you right up. While this brew packs 10% alcohol, it's not overpowering.

I enjoyed my Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout with a bowl of ice cream, it would pair up well with chocolate cake or even some cheese cake.

BCS is a beer that is suitable for cellaring. It is also resonably priced, the four-pack set me back less than $10. If you missed out on it this year, you definetely should keep an eye out for it next year.

Even though this is Florida, I like the winter months because all the seasonal beers come out. Today’s selection is the Blue Moon Winter Abbey Ale. This beer is quite the departure from Blue Moon’s regular or summer beer. The bottle says that it’s a copper-colored ale crafted with roasted malts, Belgian sugar and a touch of wheat for a rich caramel flavor and a smooth toffee finish. After taking a sip, I couldn’t agree more – their description is right on. While many winter beers can be pretty heavy (not a bad thing, particularly if its cold out), this beer is considerably lighter in taste, likely due to the use of wheat. The beer is pretty sweet – perhaps a bit more than I generally prefer, but I thought it was quite good. Not something one will likely drink a lot of but it is definitely worth giving a try.

Florida Beer Company’s entry in to the winter releases includes Conchtoberfest, their German-style Marzen beer. While its brewed in Melbourne, the packaging is 100% Key West – with a relaxing look to the label and a quirky, blue glass bottle. The label indicates that it is manufactured in a way to be nice to the environment, including being carbon neutral and using 100% post-consumer content. While I didn’t hear the oompah band when I held it up to my ear, as promised on the label, the beer was enjoyable. It is a heavily malted beer in keeping with the Marzen style, but the sweetness was nicely balanced by a touch of bitterness that I could feel on the sides of my tongue. Caramel and butterscotch flavors are distinctly present, and the taste lasts well after the sip has moved its way down. Conchtoberfest is easy to drink – not too heavy but certainly not a light beer in taste and body. I look forward to the last few left in the six.

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