Uchu Brewing (うちゅうブルーイング ) “Land (#278)” Hazy Double IPA

Name: Land (#278)
Brewer: UchuBrewing うちゅうブルーイング (Japan)
Style: Experimental Beer (Base Style: Specialty IPA: New England IPA)
ABV: 8%
Review Year: 2021

Land is a “Hazy Double IPA” brewed by Uchu Brewing from Hokuto City, Japan. This beer was brewed with oats, the  New Zealand hop variety, Nelson Sauvin, and a touch of lactose.

Uchu Brewing is a space-themed craft brewery in Hokuto City, Yamanashi, and was founded by Masahiro Kusunose and Rumiko Suzuki in 2018. Head brewer Kasunose skipped high school to become a bassist in a hardcore punk band and, has, interestingly, only started drinking craft beer in 2016. Before brewing on his own, Kasunose spent two months in 2017 at Outsider Brewing in Kofu mentored by Satoshi Niwa. The other half of Uchu is Suzuki who traded in her Osaka city life for the quiet farm life in Kochi after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. She is currently in charge of the brewery’s marketing, creative direction, and events. The two crossed paths as Kasunose and Suzuki became involved in environmental activism in which they practice strongly with their brewery.

STYLE GUIDELINES

This beer is being evaluated as an Experimental Beer (34C) with the Specialty IPA: New England IPA (21B) as the base style in the context of the 2015 Beer Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). Note that the Specialty IPA: New England is a provisional style as of this writing, with its working definition published on the BJCP website. The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.

“Milkshake IPA” is not an official style, but it refers informally to New England IPAs brewed with lactose or milk sugar, which is a type of unfermentable sugar.

TASTING NOTES

Hazy pale straw; white head with good retention. Initial aromatic ripe mango, orange, and vanilla on the nose; closer, cream, light lychee, and lemon bar; hints of herbal and bready notes in the background. Medium-full-bodied, moderate carbonation, and smooth. Hop-driven flavor profile: think of pronounced fruity ripe mangoes with accents of orange citrus and some strawberry. This fruity bouquet was met with resiny bitterness of medium intensity. Supportive bready malt character; finished with slight sweetness. Aftertaste lasted for a while, returning mango, resiny bitterness, and some sweetness; slight stickiness. No alcoholic, astringency, and other harsh qualities.

THE VERDICT

Outstanding. Uchu Brewing’s Land, billed as a “Hazy Double IPA” and benchmarked as an “experimental” New England IPA (NEIPA) is a superbly juicy and enjoyable hazy beer that showcased pronounced fresh and ripe fruit qualities. According to the provisional style guidelines (originally meant for competitions), NEIPAs with noticeable additions of fruit, lactose, and other materials to increase the fruity, smooth character should be entered in another category defined by the additive (e.g., Fruit Beer, Specialty Beer). “Noticeable,” however, could be subjective.

As perceived, the juicy-fruity quality of this beer felt it was accentuated by the lactose addition. This beer may be marginally sweeter than your typical NEIPA but it’s still a far cry from the “Milkshake” examples brewed with fruits. In short, the amount of lactose felt appropriate and did not overpower. The appearance was also quite appealing and made its drinkers anticipate the beer more upon pouring. We’d imagine this being enjoyed outdoors on a hot summer day.

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