Hunting Beer Bottles & Yo-Ho Brewing Co – Aooni Review

I decided to use my beer bottle hunting in NYC post to also do a review of one of these beers I found in NYC.  As I said earlier this week, I found a bottle shop in Grand Central Station within an hour or two of being in NYC.  It had some interesting looking beers, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the pricing.  Thus, I decided I would wait and see what else I could find.  There were two other bottle shops I really wasnted to get to while I was in NY, but after dragging my wife to a brewery and a few bars, I couldn’t convince her to spend a lot of extra time trying to find these two stores.  The first store I really wanted to get to is called Good Beer.  The pictures I saw online led me to believe they had a pretty good selection.  The second one we almost got to was an interesting place called the Growler Station.  I don’t think I would have brought anything home from this place, but it sounded like a really interesting concept I would have wanted to check out.  Unfortunately the gay pride parade was going right by the store the day I wanted to go, so we got about a block away but didn’t see anything.

The store we did manage to find was a place called the Breukelen Bier Merchants.  We happened upon it not long after leaving Brooklyn Brewery.  It wasn’t a very big place, but they had a lot of stuff on tap and a fairly good selection of bottles as well.  Since I hadn’t been capable of finding too many good bottle options yet, I decided to do my shopping right here.  Browsing around a little, I decided to go with a few bottles I couldn’t find back home or a few I had never seen before.  I ended up picking up Speedway Stout from Alesmith, Dubhe from Unita Brewing Co, and Aooni from Yo-Ho Brewing Co in Japan.  This combined with a bottle of AMA Bionda from Amarcord Brewing Co I bought at Brooklyn Brewery were the only bottles I came home with.  I’ve had Unita before, but I love Black IPAs.  I’ve never had anything from Alesmith, and I’ve never seen anything from Yo-Ho or Amarcord before.  Like I said, I would have loved to do a little more bottle shopping, but I had already put my wife through enough.  Plus, I had to walk around for another few hours with all of these bottles in a backpack!

This can of Aooni really stuck out to me.  It was written all in Japanese and the English on it were just stickers over Japanese.  I guess you need to still put English warnings on things when you import them to the U.S.  At first I didn’t notice where it said it was an IPA, but I still decided to go with it anyway.  It seemed way to bizarre not to get.  I’ll tell you the small details I’ve been able to find; however, most of this is second-hand from other sites, so I’m not sure how accurate it is.  They are out of Karuizawa, Nagano Japan and their brewmaster COO Toshiyuki evidently interned at Stone Brewing co from 1998-2001.  He took what he learned there and went home to apply his knowledge to Yo-Ho.  Regardless of any information I was going to find on the brew, I was really excited to try it.

This one poured out a healthy orangey amber color.  There was some moderate head; however, while it wasn’t exactly plentiful, it lasted quite a while.  The lacing on the sides of the glass was huge, and it left a seemingly unending amount of long lasting residue as well.  The beer was extremely hazy and it had absolutely no visible carbonation either.

There was some very citrusy aroma that was most prominent on the nose.  The most obvious citrus smell was grapefruit, but I could pull out some orange and pineapple as well.  There is almost an apple cider aroma here as well.  A little bit of the floral hop aroma is present, but I wouldn’t say it is overpowering.  It certainly relies more on a citrus aroma than a hop aroma.  A little light pine can be pulled out.  I really couldn’t get much of any malts out of the aroma either.

The beer has an obvious malty intro that combines with some very light piney hops right at the start.  I was a little surprised that the hops came in so fast, but as an IPA fan, I certainly like it.  As the hops start to mellow, you get a very light vanilla taste that leads you into some hefty citrus flavors.  You get a little pineapple that is the gateway to a very heavy dose of grapefruit.  The harsher citrus notes of the grapefruit seems like the perfect lead into the bigger pine notes of the hops for the ending.  There are some light malts to help balance out the ending, but it is certainly quite hoppy.

The mouthfeel has some ample carbonation at the start, but that dissipates pretty quickly if you let it sit for any small period of time.  It really ends up being quite syrupy especially after sitting for a few minutes.  The malts and hops attempt to do battle here, but the hops are the clear victor.  The citrus and grapefruit notes are very complementary.

I have a feeling I would make this beer a regular at my house if I could find it.  I personally have never seen a can of this in my area before.  Perhaps you have an area they distribute too.  If you are able to get this, I would recommend you do just that.  I personally really enjoy it!

Teacher Grade: A

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