5:44 PM, Nov 23, 2004
Yona Yona Pale Ale
tagged with dotw
While the bartender poured my next beer, the Yona Yona Pale Ale (I had asked for the Yona Yona Porter, but alas), I sampled the slimy, iridescent bits in the bowl that had been placed in front of me when I arrived. Despite looking like an internal organ, the oil and mystery sauce-soaked vegetable was pretty damn tasty. It was obviously a stem of some sort, but I couldn't place it from looks or taste. I ordered the Yakisoba-style Spaghetti, hoping it was the cold soba buckwheat noodles I had been eating a lot of the last week.
The Yona Yona Ale is advertised as coming from Nagano Ken (I really should look these names up at some point when I have internet), and is priced at 924 yen for a pint (around 1000 yen is typical for most of the Japanese beers at Popeye, while oddly the imported beers tend to be cheaper per pull). The Yona Yona has a honey color, with no head to speak of. It's flavor is weak at first, with a moderate hoppy finish. Since I tend to justify pale ales' existence only as a hops delivery mechanism, I would have preferred a stronger hoppy punch (although it would only be fair to note that I have been on an aberrant hops kick of late, having swung from an almost anti-hops viewpoint to a 'can't get enough hops' perspective over just the last 3 months or so). There are some IPAs on the menu that I might try%97it would be interesting to try what has become almost an American beer as interpreted by the Japanese.
The soba noodles arrived hot, in a slightly more ample portion than the chicken did. They were great, though, although I worried that the vinegary flavor might overwhelm the half of pale ale that I had left to drink. Fortunately, the watery front wave of the Yona Yona cleared the palate of soba flavor just in time to pass on the medium hops finish. I bet soba noodles and a real
hoppy beer would go great together.
I have to say, Japanese food is pretty great. While fishy flavors are much more common than in American food - fish flavor is a seasoning in Japan, much like we tend to use pork or... well, pork, I guess - not everything is fish or rice. In fact, I found of the food to be very rich, filling the mouth with a flavor sphere (unmammi is it?) when you least expect it. Imagine eating some noodles but getting a mouthfeel like duck, for instance. It can be striking, but very attractive.
I noticed while looking over the menu in anticipation of my next drink that the Yona Yona Pale Ale I was drinking was also available hand pumped. I would imagine that was what I was drinking, in fact, which would partially explain the 'flat' flavor. Hand-pumped beer doesn't have the same levels of carbonation draft beer does. Maybe I'm a rank amateur, but I don't tend to enjoy cask beers as much as draft beers. I like me some bubbles.
Ratings (out of ten):
Flavor: 6 (Strong, hoppy finish, but a watery start)
Body: 4 (Flat with little head, but then again, I'm 99% sure it was hand pumped)
Aroma: 7 (Crisp and fresh)
Smoothness: 6 (Of course, part of that smoothness was lack of carbonation)
Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)