Nov 20, 2013

Hitachino Nest XH

Japan’s Hitachino Nest has brought some unique flavors to some very traditional styles through the years. Whether it’s a fairly straightforward espresso stout or their Red Rice Ale, the brewery always seems to bring a unique and interesting dynamic to the beer they make. XH, a 7% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale aged in sake casks, certainly fits in line with what I’ve come to expect from this company.

I’ve only had sake a handful of times, but it’s a flavor you won’t soon forget — also one that I never would have imagined imparted on a beer of any style. The combination of Belgian yeast and the sake barrel influence make XH one of the more complex examples of this genre of beer that I’ve ever come across.


XH pours copper in color with a dense cap of orangish foam that fell to a thin ring.

Hitachino Nest XH photo


Dark fruits, wood, caramel, bready malt and yeast all combine for a rich aroma. I don’t pick up all that much sake here.


Well for what little sake was evident on the nose, the flavor more than makes up for it as the spirit’s influence is apparent right from the start. A moderate malt sweetness, woody character, dark fruits and yeast arrive shortly thereafter and linger through the warming, dry finish. This is certainly not a traditional Belgian ale in any sense. XH has a great flavor and presents itself as a much bigger and potent beer than the ABV listing would make you believe.


I really enjoyed Hitachino Nest’s XH. I thought the sake influence was at just the right level so as to not completely overwhelm the palate. I’m not sure how the beer would stand on its own without the cask aging, but that’s besides the point. I would pick more of this up in a heart beat.

Rating: 4/5

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