Craft Beer for a New Year
We’re one month into 2017 and the craft beer calendar is already shaping up to be a real winner. From returning favorites to new and interesting one-off beers…February is definitely here to help you recover from our collective post-election hangovers.
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
Briney Melon Gose – You may not be familiar with the gose beer style (pronounced go-sah), but you should be. These beers are slightly salty with a tart character that’s akin to sour beers, but more tart than sour. The folks over at Anderson Valley Brewing Company have brewed a few varieties of this classic beer style, including this brand-new iteration that’s bound to please.
The classic gose style is paired with subtle watermelon aroma and flavor to give this beer a perfect harmony between acidity and fruity sweetness. The finish is nice and dry, giving you a beer that’s both tart and sweet without any lingering sweetness on the finish. As with others in the style, this new gose will come in at a sessionable 4.2% ABV and is available in bottles, cans, and on draft.
Ee Tah! IPA – Adding to Anderson Valley’s strong pale ale portfolio is their Ee Tah! IPA. Golden yellow in color, this India pale ale features aromas of tropical fruit, passion fruit, and just a hint of citrus. The impressive hop profile comes via Chinook, Citra, and Amarillo hops while pale, pilsner, and midnight wheat malts give the beer a nice balance. Coming in at 7.5% ABV, this is one beer that’ll pair with your favorite grilled meats and spicy dishes.
Hopslam – When it comes to IPAs, this one may very well be king. Bell’s Brewing uses six different varietals of hops to craft the huge citrus and floral flavor that’s packed into this beer, giving it a complex and very bitter taste and aroma. Weighing in at a hefty 10% ABV, Hopslam is a beer for true lovers of the hop.
Hopslam is a true imperial IPA, with a huge flavor and enough alcohol to give the beer a slight warmth on the finish. As you might have guessed, Cupid’s worked overtime on this one, making just about everyone love Hopslam, so while it may take a little work to find this beer, the work is definitely worth the reward. Hopslam this year is available in 12oz cans, and on draft.
Smitten – Smitten isn’t a word that’s used too often anymore, but I argue that it should be. A perfect use of this word is for the golden rye ale brewed by Bell’s Brewing. Their idea of Smitten starts with rye to impart a spiciness and body to the beer that give the beer an almost magical presence.
On the nose, you’ll notice peppery rye spiciness along with a noticeable bready aroma. The taste has rye up front with a nice citrusy hop character following it up. All of this sits nicely on a malt backbone that’s all about bready malt. The rye imparts a creamy mouthfeel that finishes the beer up perfectly.
Bell’s Smitten Golden Rye Ale clocks in at 6% ABV and is available during the spring and early summer. Smitten is a great example of an interesting take on the traditional American Pale Ale with a nice rye malt twist. Smitten Golden Rye Ale pairs very well with strong cheeses, salty snacks, and savory meats. Smitten is available is 12oz bottles, 16oz cans, and on draft.
Dogfish Head Brewery
Flesh and Blood – While 60 and 90 Minute may be IPAs from Dogfish Head we’ve grown to love, Flesh & Blood IPA is the up-and-comer that’s won over a lot of hearts. Originally released in 2016, this IPA features a hearty dose of real citrus including lemon flesh and orange juice as well as orange and lemon peel.
Flesh & Blood balances the American IPA style with zesty fruitiness to give it the bitterness that hopheads love and the drinkability that those less hop-inclined need. Coming in at 7.6% ABV and 45 IBUs, Flesh & Blood IPA is just about perfect, especially now that it’s available year-round, and it’s even available in cans!
Erie Brewing Co.
Ol’ Red Cease & Desist – Ol’ Red is a big 10.1% ABV wee heavy Scotch ale that features a strong caramel malt flavor that finishes with a smooth, alcohol warming sensation. This hefty beer is a deep red color with a light foamy head. Aromas include dark fruit, malt, and a touch of caramel.
Ol’ Red pairs well with Fruity, mild, or buttery cheeses as well as smoked and roasted meats, sausages, and even crème brulee and shortbread cookies.
Heavy Seas Beer
TropiCannon – Citrus and IPAs go together like, well, citrus and IPA! This seasonal offering from Heavy Seas Beer clocks in at 45 IBU and 7.25% ABV, and features huge citrus aroma and flavor that’s backed up by a balanced hop profile.
TropiCannon starts its life similar to Loose Cannon, and while they share the same ABV, the beer cousins couldn’t be more different. On the citrus side you’ll find blood orange, grapefruit, mango, and lemon in both the aroma and flavor while the hop side you’ll get some piney hop flavor along with even more citrus thanks to the Amarillo and Simcoe hops.
North Country Brewing Co.
Liquid Love – One of the tenants of a good Valentine’s Day is chocolate. A close second to this would be, in my book, alcohol, so why not combine the two into a stout that is part chocolate, part beer, and all amazing?
North Country Brewing out of Slippery Rock, PA brews their Liquid Love Stout to be the perfect balance of chocolate and dark stout not only for those of us celebrating Valentine’s Day, but for anyone else looking for a great dark beer with overtones of dark chocolate. When it comes to chocolate stouts, a little goes a long way, which is why this beer is so great. The beer is well balanced with enough bitterness paired with the toasted malt to support the chocolate and make this 6.5% ABV beer extremely drinkable and infinitely enjoyable, but make sure to find it on draft, as it’s the only way you’ll find it this year.
Thanks Daaaaan – Brewed with legendary sportscaster Dan Potash, Thanks Daaaaan Belgian Wheat is a light, refreshing Belgian wheat beer that comes in at 5.5% ABV and like most wheat beers, is a hazy golden color with a frothy white head.
Oskar Blues Brewing Co.
Deviant Dales – This imperial IPA comes in at 85 IBUs and 8% ABV, and features aromas of citrus, grapefruit rind, and piney resin. Deviant Dale’s pours a deep copper color with an off-white foamy head.
As for flavor, Deviant Dale’s packs in more of that citrus and pine and follows it up with a malt backbone that finishes slightly dry.
Otter Creek Brewing Co.
Kind Ryed – When it comes to IPAs, a growing trend is the use of rye in the recipe to give the beer an added bit of spiciness and body. Otter Creek Brewing does just that with their Kind Ryed IPA, giving it a strong rye malt backbone to support the 60 IBU and 6.5% ABV the beer features.
By using a combination of Apollo, Simcoe, Chinook, and Centennial hops, the brewers at Otter Creek give this beer a clean, refreshing taste that has just enough rye to make it one of the more unique IPAs around.
Saugatuck Brewing Co.
The Reverent Monk – Belgian monks have been brewing beer for hundreds of years, giving them a history of quality that’s simply amazing. While the monks brewed their beer for help with nutrition while on fasts as well as to sell to travelers, Saugatuck Brewing brews their Reverent Monk Belgian Tripel purely for our enjoyment.
Coming in at 10% ABV, Reverent Monk features complex flavors of clove, banana, and spicy esters to give the beer a depth of character that’s hard to find outside of the Belgian borders.
Ripper – The different varieties of pale ales are often overshadowed by the bigger, hoppier India Pale Ales. While some may say these styles are starting to merge, there’s still more than enough room for the base pale ale in our beer world.
Take for example Ripper, a 5.7% ABV pale ale. This beer features tropical and floral aroma and flavors in a bright, golden body. Technically considered a West Coast pale ale, this is the perfect beer for long days at the beach or warm evenings on your porch, both of which we’re hoping to see very soon.
Jindia Pale Ale – Always ones to experiment with the IPA style, Stone Brewing is releasing a one-off IPA that’s sure to impress. Their Jindia Pale Ale comes in at 8.7% ABV and features balanced levels of ginger, juniper, and citrus to give this beer a very gin-like quality that makes it bright and refreshing. This, paired with the beer’s intense hop flavor make for a brew you won’t soon forget.
Groundhog Altbier – Whether that seer of seers and prognosticator of prognosticators predicts more winter or an early spring for us, one thing we can be certain of is Straub’s Groundhog Altbier and its ability to get us through however many cold nights we have left.
Coming in at 6.9% ABV, this end of winter beer pours a bright copper color with a toasty, caramel flavor and aroma.
Tröegs Independent Brewing
Nugget Nectar – Here’s a beer you could really make your main squeeze. Nugget Nectar is Tröegs Brewing’s ode to the hop. Tröegs uses ultra-fresh hops to give this beer huge aroma and flavor that’s hard to beat. Coming in at 7.5% ABV and a hefty 93 IBUs, this beer is technically considered an imperial amber ale, even though it’s stiff competition for any IPA out there.
Nugget Nectar just saw its 2017 release in January to a thirsty throng of beer lovers, and if you want to get your hands on this lovely, you better do it soon or else be without the one you love for another year. And trust me, this isn’t one you want to have a long-distance relationship with. Nugget Nectar will be available in 12oz bottles, cans, and on draft.
Victory Brewing Co.
Sour Monkey – Sour beer is something of an acquired taste. When first trying a sour beer, it can be somewhat overpowering and not at all what you’re expecting. Given a few tastes however, you’ll find depth of flavor and aroma that makes these beers a truly unique experience.
Sour Monkey is a 9.5% ABV version of the popular Golden Monkey is soured using a strain of Brettanomyces, giving it added flavors of lemon, tartness, and overall Brett funkiness.
21st Birthday IPA – Ah, the joy of the 21st birthday. Being able to go out to the bar and legally buy the drinks you’ve longed to have. It’s an event most of us remember (for the most part, that is) as being a fun, special day.
Victory Brewing is turning 21 this year, which means it’s time for them to celebrate by having themselves a beer. This year Victory chose to brew a special IPA that features aggressive kettle and dry hopping with fresh-harvested hops, giving this 6.1% ABV beer some real character.