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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kiuchi Brewey

I vividly remember turning on the news on the morning of March 11, 2011 and watching in shock as tsunami waves washed across villages in northern Japan.  The devastating tsunami was triggered by a megathrust earthquake that registered 9.0, one of the largest quakes on record. This natural disaster directly affected the lives of millions of people.  The quake also damaged the Kiuchi Brewery in Naka, Japan.  The brewery is located about 200 miles from the quake’s epicenter.

While many of us watched this historic natural disaster unfold, now we have a chance to experience a very small part of the event.  When the quake struck Naka, the Kiuchi brewery was in the middle of mashing grain for a Witbier.  The power was out for three days and during this time the partially mashed grains began a natural fermentation.  Once power was restored, the brewery decided to continue with the process and finish the beer.  This unique batch produced only 8,000 bottles of what they are calling Hitachino Nest 3 Days.  Although the beer is technically a wheat beer, I think the brewery should begin calling it an earthquake-style wheat.  The unique conditions produced by the natural disaster produced a surreptitiously unique beer.  Commemorate it!

I was lucky enough to find a couple of bottles of 3 Days.  I decided to cellar one of them (at 8% ABV it should age well) and drink the other.  The beer was slightly sweet with an undertone of sour and floral.  There were other complex flavors that I can’t describe well.  The label describes the history and circumstances of the beer.  I could not help but remember the tragedy of March 11, 2011 while I enjoyed the beer.  The irony was not lost on me.


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