North Island India Pale Ale by North Island Beer

North Island IPA

North Island India Pale Ale is a 7% IPA from North Island Beer, based in Hokkaido, Japan.

I don’t really get the chance to drink North Island beer- the last one I had was back in 2014, as far as I recall.

This time around, I got a three-bottle set of North Island from a kind coworker- those of you who have received such gifts from a normie will understand the apprehension I had when she said she had got some beer for me from Hokkaido. Could it be something nice like North Island? or would I have to feign gratitude for some awful blue beer? (only joking- I’m not that much of a shit. If it’s fizzy and alcoholic I’ll be glad to drink it. As long as it’s not Miso Korny, the only beer to be classed as a war criminal)

The other two beers were the coriander black and the pilsner, by the way, but they’ve been reviewed here and here respectively. So, onto the beer!

North Island India Pale Ale Aroma and Taste

Ooh, I already got a hoppy whiff as soon as I opened this. Pouring it out gives a decent head that nonetheless behaved itself enough to not overflow everywhere. It settled down to about a centimetre of foam. It’s a clear IPA, with a deep golden orange sunset colour. These words are all very positive. I’m writing this in real time, by the way, with the beer on the table next to my laptop. Don’t let me down, beer. Or spill yourself on my keyboard. Already lost one laptop that way.

The bright, hoppy nose gives way to a more earthy scent, but there are no malty overtones. I’m betting this is more of a West Coast IPA than an English one.

Ack! I took a taste. This beer is REALLY hop-bitter. It’s very dry and a little bit spicy. It reminds me of the first time I tried to dry-hop a homebrew that had already got 5 different types of hops in. That didn’t go well.

I’ve just checked the bottle and it’s listed as “beer” rather than “happoshu”- which means it hasn’t been dry-hopped. It could quite easily have been, though. It’s almost painfully bitter.

North Island India Pale Ale The Bottom Line

North Island IPA smells nice, but it’s kind of one-dimensional- it has all the bitterness of a West Coast-style IPA, but without the fragrant dankiness of the hops, or indeed the malt sweetness. It isn’t terrible, but it’s just way too bitter. If you really, absolutely must drink this, maybe try aging it until the hop bitterness calms down a tad.

Where to Buy North Island India Pale Ale

North Island India Pale Ale can be bought online at the following places:

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Comments 4

  1. Dry hopping a beer makes it categorized as a happoshu? I was thinking it was only for craft beers flavored with fruits, spices, coffee…

    1. Apparently so, that’s what Scott Brimmer from Brimmer Brewing told me when I interviewed him. I was surprised too! But I suppose it’s classed as a secondary ingredient when it’s added after the boil. And anything that reduces the volume of beer in favour of an extra ingredient makes it a happoshu. I think. Thanks for your comment!

      1. Interesting. And a google search seems to confirm it. I wonder if it only concerns Japanese beers because the dry hopped imported IPA are usually labeled as beer. Or maybe the importer just doesn’t care.

        1. Yeah, it could be that as long as the ingredient lists on import beers don’t say anything other than malt and hops, they’re good to go. Also interesting how some imports will say “this is a beer but technically under Japanese law it’s a happoshu” on the label, whereas Japanese equivalents don’t have that luxury!

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