Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MAXED OUT: A return to the top 10

Happy Wednesday, my draft loving day-dreamers and thanks for joining me on another adventure through the land of beer. I’m sure you’ve all been holding your breaths in anxious anticipation for the unveiling of my next “Top-10-Beers-of-All-Time” so here goes: The second on my list (and in no particular order) is Hitachino XH, an 8% ABV Strong Belgian Brown Ale (44 IBUs,) aged in distilled oak Sake barrels. Say whaaaat?

This is probably going to be the “craziest” beer on my list, so I guess it’s fitting that it is brewed in Japan, seeing as their game shows and commercials are about the weirdest freaking things on Earth. Hitachino XH or “Extra High” is part of the “Hitachino Nest Ale” line from Kiuchi Brewery, which is located all throughout Japan, and was established over 180 years ago (although the Hitachino Nest line was only created some 15 years ago.) All of the Hitachino Nest ales are brewed and often aged with a tinge of the traditional sake brewing method (which I know absolutely nothing about,) and most of them are going to have a crisp, slightly sour bite to them.

As for the particulars of the Extra High, first the color: Almost a muddy, copper-esque brown and the last little bit comes out of the bottle with a thick sediment chunkiness that can only be pure delicious. The fragrance has a bite to it, almost like a sour red apple. That’s the overriding flavor I get from this beer: the notes of red apples… and I looooove red apples. The first sip is a little intimidating as several flavors dance across your tongue; first, that sour, which I’m assuming must be the sake comes racing in. And then that red apple slowly fills out the middle and finish. This beer does not linger on your tongue for long at all. And as you progress, the bite of the Sake barrels tapers off and the red apples combine with a gentle sweetness, almost like a red apple pie with a splash of cinnamon. Once you get to the bottom of the beer, the sediment is mildly thick, so if you don’t like that chunky-mouth feel, I recommend just leaving the last little bit in your glass. The XH is imported from Japan so it is a little pricy at about $6 for a 12oz bottle ($8 at the bars.)

Now I must warn you, this beer is NOT for the faint-hearted. It’s a big, wild ride that I cannot guarantee everyone will enjoy but this is about my 10 FAVORITE beers, not the 10 beers that everyone will love. So there!

As always, feel free to leave a comment in the section below, on Facebook, or at Thank you all for checkin’ me out on this lovely Wednesday. I hope you guys keep hangin' with me as I count down the final 8 beers on the list. And a very special shout out to my boo, Jules, who turns ____ tomorrow! Love you! Happy birthday!

Until the next time, have a beer for me.

(ed. note: Max asked us to pass along that Hitachino XH pairs well with sushi (natch) but also spicy foods as well)

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