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Beer Reviews

Kirin Ichiban Aki Aji Autumn Edition


One of the aspects, of the many, that makes beers unique is that compared to other categories of alcoholic beverages, they are produced in a relatively shorter timeframe and are designed to be consumed fairly shortly thereafter.

Practically speaking that means that brewers can be more attuned to the seasons and the habits of their drinkers - historically that's even been the case! Where breweries would reserve heavier beers for the cold winters, and lighter ones for when the hot summers called for some refreshments. Now that's certainly not the case for hard liquors for example.


Kyoto in autumn.


And so one of the cherished rituals in Japan is to usher in the autumn, which is revered for bringing all the richness of the land forward - where it's mackerels, sweet potatoes, mushrooms or chestnuts, they are imbued with strong earthier, more umami and savoury flavours.

So of course, count on Japan's major beermakers to take part in the season! You'll begin to find a whole host of autumn inspired brews, many of which dawning the lovely autumnal colours of red and brown, and are also imbued with the same more earthy, umami and savoury flavours, just as what the season calls for.

Which brings us to Kirin Ichiban's annual Aki Aji Autumn Edition brew! Let's get to it!

Kirin Ichiban Aki Aji Autumn Edition - Review


Tasting Notes

Color: Golden

Aroma: Honey and a distinctive scent of rice, brown rice, rice bran. It has a lot of richness to it, thick with sweet and earthy, slightly umami notes.

Taste: Really rich thickness, it has a base of honey but layered atop with lots of earthy, umami and savoury flavours of miso, browned leaves, alittle bit of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, grilled river fish - over time the savoury saltiness becomes more pronounced. 

Finish: More dry here, with a light puckering sensation. More of that salty umaminess of miso paste and saltine and rice crackers but backed up by honey. More of that soy sauce.


My Thoughts

Very interesting beer - it definitely stands out for how umami and savoury this was, as it opened up it really became very prominently salty, getting towards soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. It really underscores the whole seasonal theme of autumn which as mentioned, in Japan is all about celebrating what’s in season which typically matches more umami foods - I could see this being a pretty good beer to pair that with. 

This would be a dream for folks who love savoury snacks or always gotta add more salt to their foods - it’s really an savoury megapack. But as mentioned, this was meant to pair with the seasonal foods, which I think is where it’s best suited for. 

But savouriness aside, this was pretty good! It still melded in the freshness Kirin Ichiban is known for, it’s very rich and still cohesive, with a good body and crisp finish.

Solid brew, very distinctive and interesting. Will have some savoury snacks ready next time!