It’s been a while since I’ve last written anything, and I am at a point in where I have a lot to write about. At the start of June, I wrote a negative piece about Baltimore’s Peabody Heights Brewery. A few reps reached out to me (respectfully, I should mention), but what I wrote then is what I still believe. The last month has been quite a whirlwind, and I’ve gotten very sidetracked. The big news is that I’ve been accepted to medical school! The bigger news is that it’s in Poland! As a result, I’ve been scrambling to get my affairs in order before my departure from Baltimore next Wednesday.
I have had some wonderful beers in the inbetween. In late June I did my first beer trade with reddit user u/nnfdcane. He sent me Cigar City’s Jai Alai, Brew Bus Last Stop IPA and Intuition AleWorks I-10 IPA. Some great beers, and an awesome new experience. I’m itching to do more trades in the future. With a clock on my stay in Baltimore, I finally took the opportunity to do a brew tour at Union Craft Brewing, a company I completely adore. Their Double Duckpin was the inspiration for my first post, and they continue to pump out great beer. While I was at Union, I had the chance to try a cask version of Old Pro Gose that was aged in lemon and ginger-root. As great as the original Old Pro is, it doesn’t even shake a stick at that cask version. And lastly, because I’m moving so far away, I’ve been doing some extreme beer-fridge cleaning. I’m finally drinking the things I said I wanted ‘an occasion’ to try, things like Evil Twin’s Imperial Biscotti Break Natale or the Prairie Bomb! I wasn’t ready to finish off.
Today I’m continuing to clear out the fridge with a beer that is way out there. On BeerAdvocate, there’s only one review. It’s a Belgian Strong Pale Ale made by Japanese brewery, Nippon. I was quite surprised to find this at my local bottle shop, Eddie’s Liquor. Eddie’s is a small store, and it has a pretty good selection, but you’re not usually going to find anything too crazy. The Kagua Blanc was a must-buy for my adventurous spirit.
The best part about Kagua Blanc is its nose, and that’s not a surprise if you spend more than ten seconds on Nippon’s official website. Every page that mentions the Kagua series raves about the ‘unique aroma’ their beers have. And that is honest marketing. I have limited sake experience, but the second I opened this bottle, I was reminded of the sakes I have had. A lot of sweetness and a lot of spice all mixed together. The Belgian yeast produces those beautiful banana-esters. Then there are a lot of great citrus flavours, like lemon and a really sweet mandarin orange*. The aroma as a whole resembles stale urine and bubble-gum, and I mean those both as compliments. Drinking the beer, you get a bit of hop presence at the front, which if I had to guess was German pilsner hop. That opens up to a lot of the delicate citrus flavours elevated with very delicate green spice. Maybe it’s my bias that this is a Japanese beer, but the aftertaste again reminds me of sake and that rice-wine sweetness. Neither the sweetness nor the spice in the beer would be enough to offend any drinker, but I do think it falls short of other examples of the style, including the Don de Dieu by Unibroue. That being said, this beer is very enjoyable and approachable, and a good example for anyone who wants to start exploring Belgian Strong Pale Ales. I’m happy giving this an 8.4
*After writing this piece, I took a look at the tasting notes Nippon wrote on their webpage, and realized that this what yuzu tastes like.