Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett is a 6% saison from Tamamura Honten, based in Nagano, Japan. It’s part of their bottle Yamabushi range of beer and was first released in Summer 2016. Why has it taken so long for us to review it? Well, I didn’t get my bottle until December 2016, having let it age for a bit. However, that doesn’t matter as Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett was brewed in 2015 and then aged for a year with Brettanomyces and then dry hopped twice with American hops. At the time of writing, it’s unknown whether Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett will be out again or not.
Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett Aroma and Taste
Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett poured out a orange golden colour with a huge amount of fluffy white head on it, which is great when you’re pouring your own beer and not in bar, as at least you can give it time to settle before topping it up. It had the unmistakable aroma of brett sour notes on it, along with a distinct Belgian yeast funk of wheat. I wish I could have said there was some hop notes in there, but beyond those notes, there wasn’t much coming through.
Brett beers, as I’m going to shorten Brettanomyces for brevity, are very much like Marmite or natto – you either like the sour inflection the yeast imparts on a beer, or not. And I do. I love sour sweets and sour foods and drinks and I liked Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett – but that was mainly due to the sourness. Yet I felt the body lacked development and the hops and saison were wasted really. Not to say that Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett is a bad beer but I would have liked more fruits from the saison base to come through rather than being dominated by the sour notes. And they dominated from beginning to finish.
I don’t often talk about carbonation but I wanted to add something about Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett’s. It was one of those beers where the combination of it and the flavours were perfect. It was light and carbonated enough to give the sourness are much sharper tang than if the beer had been flat, but not over carbonated so that it gives you gas.
Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett The Bottom Line
Tamamura Honten Yamabushi Hops & Brett, like the rest of the yamabushi range, is a pricey gamble and one that is 50-50. Buy a bottle with friends next time it comes out and share it to reduce the risk. It’s not a beer for everyone.