Yonah Live Once | ABV 5.6%
BJCP Style: Vienna Lager
CraftBeer.com Style: Vienna Lager
CraftBeer.com Sensory Style: Crisp & Clean
Hops: Saaz, Northern Brewer
Malts: Vienna, Pilsner, Crystal, Melanoidin
Brewery: NoFo Brew Co
City: Cumming, GA
(A quick note on Sensory Style: A recent, very thought provoking article from CraftBeer.com (It’s Time to Rethink How We Talk About Craft Beer Basics) by Mirella Amato introduced the idea that separating beers into Ale or Lager categories really doesn’t help newer craft beer consumers determine what beers they may or may not like to try. Sensory Style is actually more informative. I tend to agree with this, so I have introduced CraftBeer.com’s Sensory Style categories, in addition to beer style, to help someone reading my reviews get quicker understanding of the overall experience they should expect from the beer. Sensory Style is divided into six broad categories: Sour/Tart/Funky, Crisp/Clean, Dark/Roasty, Malty/Sweet, Hoppy/Bitter and Fruity/Spicy. If you would like to explore these more on your on, you’ll find them here: CraftBeer.com Beer Styles. Go ahead and explore, you’ll find they work quite well.)
Appearance: Clear copper color, fluffy off-white head with moderate retention.
Aroma: Mild toasty malt, spicy & floral hops.
Flavor & Aftertaste: Malt forward with light toasted malt & spicy hops. Moderate to Low bitterness.
Palate: Medium bodied. Moderate carbonation. Short, dry finish that is crisp & clean. Bitterness lingers, but not unpleasant.
Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know Vienna Lager is my favorite beer style. It has an interesting history, having almost died off in its region of origin, kept alive in some versions from Mexico (not Corona!), and experiencing a bit of a revival here in the United States. It’s very similar to Märzen. The main difference is Vienna Lager is a little lighter bodied and more balanced. As much as I love Märzen, it’s a more sweet leaning style and tends to make you feel full sooner. Vienna Lager strikes a nice balance between flavorful and lighter bodied lagers for me.
The downside to having this style as your favorite is it’s challenge to find breweries who keep it on tap frequently. Plus, very few brew it in what is believed to be its classic style: a malt base of mostly Vienna and Pilsner malt. Surprisingly, many breweries use two row barley and don’t even use Vienna malt. Samuel Adams Boston Lager is one example. I am always on the look out for versions that are closer to the classic style. Fortunately for me, my local brewery, NoFo Brew Co recently put their version on tap and naturally, I had to check it it. Turns out, it is very much in the classic style. Even better, they had a slow pour version on tap!
The first picture at the top of the blog is the slow pour version. If you are a serious beer enthusiast and you haven’t had a slow pour beer, you’ve got to try one when you find it. Essentially, it a special tap and pouring technique that increases foam production resulting in a perfectly poured beer with a frothy head that sticks around. The frothier head enhances beer aroma and flavor. My review will be of the slow pour version.
Yonah Live Once is beautiful light amber/copper color. The slow pour version produces a frothy near white head with great retention. Its aroma is delicately floral and spicy/herbal on the nose. The flavor profile is malt forward, light toasted bread followed by spicy hops balanced on a sweet backbone by bitterness that is present, yet not harsh. It finishes relatively short, snappy and clean. There is a residual bitterness that lingers into the finish to maintain a consistent balance start to finish. Overall, a well crafted Vienna Lager that is a joy to drink and checks all the BJCP style boxes. I gave it an Outstanding score on Beer Advocate.
As I often do for my reviews, I touched base with NoFo Brew Co Head Brewer Jonny Bradley for some additional insight. Like many brewers, he loves brewing lagers and from the ones I’ve sampled at NoFo, he does an excellent job with them. Yonah Live Once is brewed with mostly Vienna and Pilsner malt. He added a little crystal and melanoidin malts to give it some body and increase head retention, but does not alter the flavor profile. German lager yeast does the fermentation heavy lifting. Saaz hops for spicy aroma and flavor plus an addition of Northern Brewer hops mostly for bittering. Like most modern breweries in the U.S., traditional German decoction mashing technique is not used. There is a good bit of debate as to if that technique is necessary these days because of modern malting techniques. Personally, I doubt I could tell the difference in a blind taste test and I’ve never had a Vienna Lager that was made using the technique, that I am aware of. Professional brewers and competition judges can probably tell the difference, but the average consumer will not. Regardless, this Vienna Lager is well made and I am thrilled it was made by a brewery within a few miles of me. It’s in a rotation several other lager beers, so once they run out it will be a few months before it returns. With that in mind, I was sure to run out and grab a few crowlers!
NoFo Brew Co just recently celebrated their one year anniversary back in September. This brewery is well worth checking out if you are near the northside of metro Atlanta. They do a great job of having a variety of beer styles on tap. They have resisted focusing solely on IPA’s and sours. You’ll find a quality lager on tap most of the time you visit. The lager rotation has consisted of a Czech Pilsner, Munich Dunkel, Amber Ale, Helles, Vienna Lager and even a Doppelbock. If you like hazy IPA’s, sours, stouts and barrel aged beers, they’ve got those in spades too! Prost!
Curious about Vienna Lagers? Try some of these outstanding versions: Arches Brewing Mexican Empire (GA), KC Bier Co. Festbier (MO), pFriem Vienna Lager (OR), Olde Mecklenburg Munzler’s Vienna Lager (NC), and Dovetail Brewery Vienna Lager (IL).
Thanks for reading, until next time…Let Us Drink Beer!