Japan's Must-Read Magazine

Beer of the Month

Yona Yona Ale

Creamy, luscious and, well, juicy are suitable words to describe this popular Japanese microbrew, which follows a definite US West Coast bent with her splashy fruity taste, spiked with some cheeky hop bitterness. What’s she trying to be? Some say Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, while others guess Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing. But it doesn’t matter – one sip and you’re likely to just say “wow!”

Yona Yona is Japanese slang for “night after night” – the right name entirely for a seductive brew that is full of flavor, yet light and refreshing. She’s one that’s hard to tire of, and tastes great at practically any temperature. Those who appreciate the crisp hop bitterness tend to chill thoroughly before drinking, while others who like the fruity and juicy malt flavor chill her just a tad so that the full impact of the malt comes through. No wonder she has won gold medals at various beer competitions worldwide for seven years running.

Yona Yona distinguishes herself on the market by unabashedly dressing in an aluminum can, and hanging out practically everywhere – from supermarket shelves to the swankiest specialty beer stores. Flash pasteurization gives her a longer shelf life (at least five months after canning), while the can completely shuts out light that can otherwise cause beer to go skunky (why else do people shove lime wedges in Corona?).

While the low ¥260 price and wide availability makes Yona Yona Ale a great choice for home drinking, you can even order by the case, with free home delivery, from Rakuten.

As good as Yona Yona ale is, she is overshadowed by her more flavorful sister, Yona Yona Real Ale, an authentic cask-conditioned ale that is hand-pumped into pint glasses at over 70 pubs throughout Japan. Since the carbonation in this version is entirely natural and created through fermentation in the cask, it is even softer and creamier – certainly worth the search. A list (in Japanese only) of pubs serving Yona Yona Real Ale can be found at Real Ale – just click on Drink Map.