Today’s review takes a look at a couple of seasonal but not-so-rare local IPAs – the Brimmer IPA and the Ise Kadoya Triple Hop IPA, and together with it we’ll try the Anchor Go West! IPA.
Brimmer IPA (ブリマー・インディアペールエール)
No RateBeer entry yet!
Package: 330mL bottle
Pour – Orange-amber in color, cloudy, a bit of carbonation but not much
Aroma – Big piney hops smell, some citrus as well
Flavor – As with the aroma pine is quite strong, malts in the middle, finish is fairly bitter with pine still there, bitterness hangs on for a long finish
We’ve actually reviewed only one Brimmer beer before, which was their decent but not overwhelming malty Pale Ale. They’ve been pretty quiet of late, especially since their shipping container taproom in Aoyama shut down a couple of years ago. It does appear that they are revamping their current brewing facility, and as it’s scheduled to come online in March perhaps they will become more of a presence when that work is done.
The Brimmer IPA is perhaps not the world’s most exciting IPA, but a solid effort. Similar to their Pale Ale, it is also definitely on the malty and piney side, rather than the straight up hoppy bitter side. It does have a decent amount of bitterness though, and I enjoyed this one. For some reason in Japan piney IPAs are not so common, and brewers here tend to focus more on the citrus hops for their IPAs. I suppose this is the norm outside of Japan as well, so it’s good in that sense to see a local brewer going for this style of IPA.
Brimmer has never been that easy to find in Tokyo, and I feel like their presence has shrunk even when compared to about a year ago. This bottle was purchased at Liquors Hasegawa, and you might see their stuff occasionally at Tanakaya and Izuya as well. At 560 yen I would say that you can definitely find better IPAs at both higher and lower price points, so while this isn’t a bad IPA it’s hard to really recommend going out to try to track it down.
Ise Kadoya Triple Hop IPA (伊勢角屋・トリプルホップIPA)
Package: 330mL bottle
Misc: IBU – 45; hops – Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic
Pour – Also orange-amber, lots of sediment, not much foam at all
Aroma – Fairly mild aroma, faint fruit punch sweet smell
Flavor – Mild, a bit of malts, a bit of bitter on the finish, but really nothing much here
We haven’t been too excited about Ise Kadoya beers in the past, but for some reason we still tend to review them when we find anything that sounds interesting. In particular, although the only Ise Kadoya IPA review we’ve done before is their Grassy India Pale Ale, most of their IPAs that I’ve tried have always been somewhat disappointing. The Triple Hop IPA is not necessarily their flagship beer (that would probably be their excellent Imperial Red Ale), but it’s a beer you see around town whenever they brew it. It’s nominally an autumn release (I can’t verify, but I feel like I’ve seen this at other times as well but not sure), and intended to be a fairly restrained IPA with an IBU of only 45 (for comparison, the Shiga Kogen IPA has an IBU of 60, and even the Tamamura Honten Africa Pale Ale session IPA has an IBU of 50). As for the three hops, they use Simcoe as the bittering hop, with the Citra and Mosaic adding the fruity aspects to it. Let’s see how this modest IPA plays out.
I would say that rather than restrained, the Ise Kadoya Triple Hop IPA is quite bland for an IPA, and really could use a lot more punch. The bitterness is there but fairly mild, and that’s about the only sensation you can really detect in this beer. Yes, there’s a slight maltiness in the middle, but really, this beer needs more. It could be more malts, it could be more pine, it could be more citrus – ideally, it would be a combination of those to make a balanced IPA, but it needs something. Most of the Ise Kadoya IPAs that I’ve tried have been bland though, so this certainly isn’t a surprise. You could call it restrained if you want, but I think this one needs a bit more work to get something with some flavors. As for purchasing, this one was bought at Tanakaya for 515 yen, so while it’s not super pricey there isn’t a whole lot to recommend about this.
Anchor Go West! IPA
Package: 12 fl oz bottle
Pour – Pale orange, very cloudy, lots of carbonation
Aroma – Sweet pine and resin, also almost a brett oak smell
Flavor – Big combination of pine and tropical fruit, flavors really explode on finish, is appropriately bitter but not overly so
As we covered in our Anchor Brekle’s Brown review, Anchor is a fairly old and venerated California brewery, dating all the way back to 1871. However, for most of that time they only brewed their famous Anchor Steam Beer until the 1970s, when they started introducing some other classic beers like their Anchor Porter, the Liberty Ale (which basically started the hoppy IPA trend in America), and the Old Foghorn (which also basically started the American barley wine trend). However, they took another bit of a hiatus in terms of new product development after that until about 2010, when they started again putting out new beers such as Brekle’s Brown, the California Lager, a dry-hopped version of the Anchor Steam, and this Go West! IPA, which was first brewed in 2015. This relatively-moderate-for-a-West-Coast-IPA-at-6.7%-ABV is dry-hopped, and one of the hops used is the relatively new Eureka hop, which promises to be super piney. Let’s see how it plays out.
The Anchor Go West! IPA is a well-made IPA, and particularly interesting for how suddenly the flavor comes midway through the process. Initially there is a solid malt and pine sense to it, and then the pine really comes through in a big way together with a lot of fruit. It tails off into a moderate bitterness with some remnants of the pine and fruit, and it makes for quite an interesting IPA with a great flavor progression. It’s not quite the standard flavor profile, and I really liked it. The Eureka hops are clearly doing their job here with lots of pine and fruit, and while this is the first beer that I’m aware of that uses Eureka hops, it certainly makes me want to look for more.
As for purchasing, Anchor beers can be found at other places in addition to the usual craft beer shops – I purchased this one at Don Quixote for a mere 427 yen, which is a great bargain for a beer as good as this one. I’ve also seen Anchor beers available at places like Aeon Style, Yamaya, and Shinanoya, so this one shouldn’t be too hard to find. It’s much better than either the Brimmer IPA or the Ise Kadoya Triple Hop IPA (for what it’s worth I’d rate the Brimmer IPA above the Triple Hop IPA), and as it’s also cheaper than either of those it’s definitely the clear winner here.