Yo-Ho Brewing Company - Yo-Ho Yona Yona Barley Wine 2002
Malts:Pale Ale malt, Crystal malt, Barley-Flake
Hops:Nugget for bittering, Centennial for Aroma and Dry hop
Yo-Ho brewmaster and COO Toshiyuki Ishii is no stranger to the world of cutting edge craft beer, having worked at Stone Brewing Company in San Marcos, CA from 1998 through 2001. Exposed to brews like the ever-popular Arrogant Bastard Ale as a foreign exchange brewer, he garnered valuable experience in all aspects of the brewing business including brewing, packaging, marketing and sales promotion. On his return to Japan in 2001, he joined Yo-Ho Brewing Company and wasted no time implementing what he had learned, bringing the brewer’s art to a giant market that was awakening to the wonders of microbrews and local producers.
Prior to the deregulation of the beer industry in 1994, production of beer was allowed only by huge breweries like Kirin and Asahi. Beer drinkers had little choice of style, as the big facilities were almost entirely dedicated to the production of pale lagers. In recent years, small local breweries have been popping up across the country, brewing ales and offering a great deal of choice to those who visit their brewpubs. There are now over 250 microbreweries and brewpubs in Japan.
Yo-Ho Brewing Company was established in Karuizawa, Nagano, in 1996. It’s flagship beer is Yona Yona (which is Japanese for “every night”) Ale, an American-style pale ale. Toshi brewed barley wine as Yo-Ho’s first regular winter seasonal beer in ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, and ‘05, and labeled them with their vintages. Strong-style ales such as barley wine and imperial stout are still quite rare in Japan. Toshi has put a great deal of time and effort into popularizing cask-conditioned real ale, and has been highly involved in the last three annual Real Ale Festivals held in Tokyo and Osaka.
This month’s feature is indeed a special treat from the east – Banzai, Toshi!
Michael's description of this month's feature: It is a Japanese interpretation of the classic British style of strong ale. This is a wonderfully warming strong ale, pretty rich, too, but not too rich to be dangerous. I find myself drinking it all too easily. It might be a good apres-ski beer. It's got a very good malt character, a lot of hop bitterness, too. The formulation varies a little bit from year to year because Toshi is one of those brewers who is truly in love with beer, and likes to experiment with, for example, British hops and American hops. It is a very special vintage-dated beer. Kampai.
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