Waseda, the lauded private university in downtown Tokyo that fields roughly 130,000 applications for admission each year, has a lot going for it–tradition, influence, and most importantly a very good baseball team.
One thing that it still needs to work on, however, is its beer.
Unfortunately, Waseda Beer (5% ABV) is strongly yeasty from the moment you pry the cap off it. Then the yeastiness on the nose is backed up by an immediate and somewhat sour yeast dominance on the palate.
The result is a low-wattage sour middle that is not really all that welcome. This means that the hops are nearly undetectable. It would probably go down better, and feel more balanced, if the yeasty nose translated into a medium-bodied, bready mouthfeel.
I cracked two separate bottles to make sure that this was not an errant representative of the Waseda beer brand, but alas I cannot guarantee that they weren’t from the same batch since the same ‘drink by’ date (October 29, 2010) was stamped on the back of both of them.
Given the possibility that I drank two bottles of the real deal, I’m willing to acknowledge that it’s possible to get used to this beer, but it’s really not for me. The one thing that it has going for it is the somewhat dry finish that makes you nearly think the word “refreshing”. The only other plus I could come up with is the cool beer-pouring sound it makes on its way into a glass due to the stovepipe neck on the bottle.
In short, this beer does not do the proud history of Waseda University justice, and I will not be purchasing another one of them until someone assures me that a different experience is in store.
Waseda’s star pitcher, Yuki Saito, would surely be pissed off if he knew that this stuff was being served on campus.
More info about this beer can be found (in Japanese) here: http://waseda-beer.com/