This week is Golden Week in Japan. This is a series of holidays that all fall within a weeks time. They are Showa Day, Constitutional Memorial Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day. Because of the close proximity of these holidays this is the big travel and holiday time for many in the country. Today, May the 4th, is also celebrated as Star Wars Day by fans of the interstellar franchise. What began as a small joke that relies on a play on words more than any correlation to the date has been taken by fans and Disney to promote their franchise. While I doubt my Japanese neighbors will be toasting a beer to the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire I feel that I should at least toast my theatrical father.
Kirishima Shuzo began brewing Shochu in May of 1916 in Miyazaki Prefecture. Like many sake and shochu manufactures in Japan Kirishima began producing beer in 1998. The beer was made with the assistance of a British Brewer. In 2017 to mark the 100 years of operation for Kirishima, the label has been redesigned and an emphasis on quality and production capacity has been made.
The initial aromas off the glass are bread yeast notes. After those linger off a smell of roasted barley becomes more dominant. There is a subtle earthy hop aroma. It is not dominant but can be picked up eventually. Good cream head dissipates slowly into a thin tan head with many tiny bubbles. Jet black color. No carbonation bubbles are perceived in the glass. Nutty roasted flavors on the tongue. There is a good bit of carbonation felt on the mouth and tongue. The roasted barley is defiantly taking center stage. There is a slight bitterness but I would say this is probably coming from the blackened malt as much as it is coming from the hops. Much like the aroma the hop taste comes only after the flavors of roasted barley malt subside or the drinker becomes accustomed to them. Clean finish. There is an aroma of roasted malt that liners in the nose and the back of the mouth but the mouthfeel is clean after the taste. I would put this in a dry or Irish Stout category. If you are a fan of sweet stouts this may not be to your liking.
I so wanted to pair this beer with some type of “space food”. Other than Tang and Astronaut IceCream. What I went with instead was I roasted nuts. Walnuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts would provide a nice nutty balance to the roasted flavors of this beer. I would avoid heavy salted nuts. The roasted or smoked nuts can provide more of the toffee flavors you find in stout beers.