Today I will be enjoying my first bottle of Hitachino Nest beer. These beers grace the shelves of many stores and apparently have since 2000 and this particular bottle was found at our beloved Four Firkins. Hitachino Nest is brewed by the Kiuchi Brewery of Naka-shi, Japan which has been producing sake since 1823 and started brewing beer in 1996 as well as most recently distilling Shouchu in 2003. The Hitachino Nest line contains a good number of styles but the XH I have here is extra special. This strong ale has been aged in oak casks that had been used for distillation of Shocyu sake and is sure to present some interesting flavors. Upon opening this bottle the neck filled up with foam though the bottle had not been agitated. When poured a four finger off white head was quickly created even though I tried to pour slowly noting the carbonation when the bottle was opened. Color is a dark hazy raisin though I do not see any sediment present, light only brightens the hue not allowing any light through. Aroma consists of hints of nutmeg and other spices you might expect in a holiday ale followed by dark pitted fruit. Flavor is very interesting, first come the dark pitted fruit flavors but they are toned down by the obvious oak flavor present. In addition to oak i definitely get some tobacco and other smokey and herbal flavors as well as an interesting alcohol hint that is likely imparted from the sake as this Strong Ale is only 7% ABV. There is a sweet malt character throughout this brew that works to balance all of the interesting flavors in this beer though this beer isn’t exactly balanced in the traditional sense. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky and the body is medium but it isn’t too hard to drink. If you are into interestingly flavored malty beers this isn’t a bad choice, it will likely show you some flavors American breweries don’t often work with. Certainly a tasty unique beer I’m glad I had the opportunity to sample, I may have to try some of their other offerings in the future.