A brief break in production here at the malt house has provided a minute to share a few of my favorites from the past year. Not necessarily new beers, just new to me. Presented in the order they were consumed and noted.
ECLIPTIC / WICKED WEED / STONE – POINTS UNKNOWN IPA
A lot of brewing fire power went into this one! 25% Barrel aged Belgian Tripel and 75% West Coast IPA blend. Probably my first brush with the distinctive tequila barrel character. That flavor clawed its way through the high ABV (9.5%) and fresh West Coast IPA hop blend. The result? A complex blend of tropical fruit (Jarrylo, Calypyso, Amarillo hops) and yeast driven phenolics which blends with the tannins from the tequila and red wine barrels.
GREEN BENCH – SAISON DE BANC VERT
So excited to see these guys distributing into NC! As you may know, I’m a huge fan of saisons and this one was one of the best I had this year. Perfectly carbonated and very approachable at 6.5% ABV, this is great example of what “house” cultures can bring to the style. The malt and hop bills appear to be fairly traditional, but there is a distinctive blend of guava and papaya that give way to white vine-like dryness.
GREEN FLASH – SOUL STYLE IPA
Yes, you are reading this correctly….a “normal” IPA made this list. Why? because it is just damn good. Green Flash’s West Coast IPA was a “go to” for me, but the reformulation to 8.1% ABV (up from 7.2%) made it less user friendly. Enter Soul Style, similar hop profile and richer malt backbone, but with an ABV just above session strength. I just saw on their website that this one is also available in a Tangerine version…not sure if it will make it to NC, but keep an eye out for it!
FONTA FLORA – BRUTUS
A beautiful saison finished with brettanomyces and whole dandelion flowers. I enjoyed it when it was first released this summer, but a little age really took this beer to another level. My wife and I opened a bottle on one of these recent spring-like evenings and it was really something special. Poured with a perfect, rocky head and a hint of funk in the nose. The beer itself was bone dry and nicely acidic which played well with the bright, lemony flavors that were front and center. Think freshly squeezed lemonade with a shot of seltzer…perfect.