I know many people in Japan who have no issue with drinking a light lager every time they crack open a can of beer or order a pint. And I say to each his own. But if you’re open to trying new things or in search of more balance in your brew, allow me to introduce Yona Yona Ale.
Fans of variety and fellow craft beer nerds out there surely already know the American style pale ale which has been produced by Nagano’s Yoho Brewing Company since 1997. Among the most widely distributed craft beers in Japan, you may have even seen it on sale at your local supermarket or convenience store for about 260 yen a can, a fantastic value.
Cost performance aside, the beer is just plain good. It’s well balanced profile brings citrusy hops backed by a solid malty feel. It’s the kind of beer you can enjoy again and again and not tire of (as is suggested by the name “Yona Yona”, which means “night after night”).
But don’t take my word for it. Discerning fans on review sites like BeerAdvocate and RateBeer generally have good things to say. If you find yourself to be a new fan, look also for Yona Yona’s sister beers, the Aooni IPA and a porter called Tokyo Black (plus some seasonal releases).
For more details on the beer and the company that makes it, check out this profile in The Japan Beer Times, a wonderfully-produced bilingual magazine on the country’s craft beer scene.
The Beer: Yona Yona Ale（よなよなエール) from Yoho Brewing (www.yohobrewing.com)
Alcohol content: 5.5 percent
Cost: 260 yen per can (sometimes cheaper at grocery or liquor stores)
In stores: Found in Sapporo by the author at several Sunkus convenience stores along with a Seiyu grocery store and an Aeon mall. Widely available where beer variety is offered.
On tap: A bar called Diversion in Kotoni serves Yona Yona real ale on a handpump, though this author has yet to partake.