2021 is bringing with it a lot of changes here at KBC; first and foremost being a revision of the recipes for each of our year-round beers. A recent blog post described the changes for our flagship Saison, Ichigo Ichie. We then followed up with a blog for our Belgian IPA, Ichii Senshin. Lastly, we look at the changes for Kuroshio no Gotoku, our Belgian Stout.
A Look Back
Dark beer is certainly seen as the black sheep of the beer family in Japan. Everyone knows its there, but most customers actively try to avoid it due to some preconceived notion about how they expect it to taste. We can’t count the number of times we have heard the overly generalized “I don’t like black beer,” as customers lump everything that is dark into one category: “kuro (black) beer.” This tendency made us quite apprehensive in adding a stout to our year-round lineup, but off the back of our collaboration Double Dragon (双截龍) with Tiny Rebel, we realised that our Belgian yeast would immediately set our dark beers apart from everyone else’s. We applied what we learned through the collaboration and created Kuroshio no Gotoku (like the Black Tide), a 5.0% Belgian stout loosely based on the oatmeal stouts of the UK. The fruit flavours contributed by the yeast alongside the dark malt character people expected meant that we were able to create a stout that made people reconsider their notions of what “kuro beer” is. Many customers commented that although they don’t typically like dark beer, they did like Kuroshio, which we took as a huge compliment.
Why the Desire to Change?
While we were happy with Kuroshio no Gotoku and the fact that it was an opinion changing beer, over time we began to feel that it was drifting too much towards a “normal” stout in order to maintain its position in the “easy drinking” 5.0% ABV range. We missed the richer body and flavours that the higher alcohol content of Double Dragon created and began to question whether or not sacrificing these in order to keep the beer at a certain ABV was really the best plan when we considered its position in the year-round lineup. Thus, the newly revamped Kuroshio no Gotoku moves a step closer to its roots in order to fulfill a bolder and more flavourful role in our lineup.
How has it changed?
To accomplish this, we first raised the ABV from 5.0% to 6.0% by increasing the overall amount of malt used. A small addition of Carapils malt for additional body helps the beer from feeling too thin and changed varieties of dark crystal malts to enhance dark fruit nuances. The variety of dark malts has been simplified, changing from three to two, to put less focus on their roasty flavours and aromas.
What's the Takeaway?
These changes and their effect on the final product have been the hardest to visualise of all three of our year-round offerings. There is much more complexity in the layering affect of multiple crystal and dark malt additions, and at the same time we did not want to change the nature of the beer as an “image changing” stout. While there may be more small tweaks that are necessary over the coming months, we are well on our way to achieving our goal of Kuroshio no Gotoku having a bolder personality within the lineup. We hope that customers agree and look forward to feedback regarding the changes to this and all of our year-round brews!