Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB, besides being a mouthful to say, is an 8% imperial extra strong bitter (ESB) from Tamamura Honten, based in Yamanouchi, in Nagano, Japan. It’s part of their collaborative lineup with Trunk Coffee Roasters, and can be found in both bottles and on tap across Japan, though its availability does vary at the time of writing. As the name suggests, Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB is steeped with coffee, with this version using El Paraiso beans, that are usually grown in Columbia. These beans have been double anaerobic washed, which means that the beans were harvested, washed twice in an environment without oxygen, then dried out – don’t know what that does to the beans, if anything at all, or if it is just some more buzz words. But all I know is that after searching is that it seems to bump the price of the beans up somewhat, with an original 250g bag of these beans costing 5,000 yen.
At A Glance
Style: Imperial Extra Strong Bitter
Hops: HBC 630
Price: From 550 yen
On Sale: From July 2021
Notable Aroma: Roasted coffee with chocolate and berry-like aroma. Light caramel malt aroma with some biscuit. Vanilla comes through when warm.
Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB : Aroma and Taste
Though the beans may cost a fortune, I was surprised with how “cheap” Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB was per bottle – either the beans were merely wafter in the direction of the beer, or perhaps the online price for the bag of beans was marked up to excite coffee fans. I do like my coffee but the thought of paying so much for a bag for something that is consumed merely to get me going in the morning says a lot about it as a commodity.
Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB poured out an amber brown colour with a medium amount of slightly off-white head on top that faded to a few bubbles around the side of the glass, not long after pouring. The aroma was a very mixed one – with some sweet malts coming through of biscuit and caramel. This was mixed in with a subtle berry-esque aroma to the nose, with some raspberry smell coming through, though it was the distinctive roasted coffee notes, with chocolate being present, but not dominating. After letting the beer warm up though, there was a distinctive vanilla aroma that came through – a very mixed up nose of aromas in Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB.
After letting Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB open up for a while, the smoothness of the body can not be understated. It was such a smooth beer, that even at 8% and with roasted coffee in the mix, I was surprised that there wasn’t a rough, gritty edge to it. Though this is supposed to be a “big” beer – it is 8% – there wasn’t any notice alcohol heat to Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB. The malts brought a slight sweet edge to the berry flavours, with the coffee once again being the main star of this beer. There was some vanilla in the aftertaste as the beer is more suited for sipping, which in turn means it’s going to be sitting for a while, allowing more of the flavours to develop.
Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB : The Bottom Line
I don’t know if an ESB was the right base for Shiga Kogen Imperial Coffee ESB, but it works and the flavours are well balanced throughout.