Name: Recreational Bitter
Brewers: Zakkoku Koubou (麦雑穀工房)
Style: Best Bitter
Review Year: 2021
Recreational Bitter is the first “English Bitter” from Zakkoku Koubou (麦雑穀工房), a microbrewery on a farm in the town of Ogawa (Saitama) surrounded by the Sotochichibu Mountains. The brewery is known to source local ingredients for its beers.
Before being known as a brewpub located near the Ogawa station, Zakkoku Koubou was originally regarded as a farm that cultivated grains and millets. The brewpub was established to address the surplus of grains after harvesting by using these to make beer. Today, the farm also cultivates hops, vegetables, and fruits on top of their grains and millets.
This beer is being evaluated as a Best Bitter (11B) in the context of the 2015 Beer Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.
Slightly clear medium amber with a low white head. Clarity improves after a while but never approached brilliant quality. A distinct yet moderate caramel-toffee aroma was backed up with low toastiness; the aroma profile is unchanged virtually even as the beer settled. Hop aroma, however, was not explicit. Medium-light body; moderately-low carbonation. The flavor evoked medium “bakery” attributes of caramel and toastiness with a low biscuity-malty character. An equally moderate bitterness complemented the toastiness mentioned; semi-dry finish. Additional toffee (medium-low) and earthy hoppy (low) flavors surfaced, while the aftertaste lingered with the familiar caramel-toffee.
Benchmarked as a Best Bitter, Zakkoku Koubou’s Recreational Bitter is a very drinkable, malt-forward, and moderately bitter English-style beer. The aroma leaned toward the toffee-caramel side, possibly overpowering some of the fruitiness expected from beers of this style. Hop aroma was not explicit, but this is not unusual for Best Bitters. Further, both bitterness and the caramel-toffee flavors were at par with each other and composed practically the foundation of this beer. Overall, very good. We would imagine this being enjoyed on a fine autumn afternoon outdoors.
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