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Tim Matthews, Brandon Ade and Michael Harris at Blacklands Malt in Leander, Texas. (Photo courtesy Oskar Blues Brewery)
AUSTIN, Texas—Oskar Blues Brewery in Austin, Texas, is now brewing their flagship beer, Dale’s Pale Ale, using locally crafted malt developed by neighboring malthouse, Blacklands Malt. The Oskar Blues team is excited to incorporate quality, sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients, while supporting the community and calling attention to the art of craft malting. Dale’s Pale Ale brewed with Blacklands malt is now available throughout Texas and surrounding states.
Dale’s Pale Ale has historically been brewed with commercial Munich malt; but an idea started germinating when Oskar Blues’ Head of Brewing Operations, Tim Matthews, met Blacklands’ founder, Brandon Ade, in 2016. “Two malt geeks get together and before you know it, you’re talking about the future,” said Matthews. “Malt people understand the long term, the agronomic aspects, mother nature, and the pursuit of flavor.”
Ade started Blacklands Malt in 2012. Located in Leander, Texas, approximately 20 miles from the Oskar Blues Austin Brewery, Blacklands was the first malthouse in the modern history of Texas. “I started Blacklands because I wanted to sit in a bar with my buddies, have a beer and know that the malt in that beer was made in Texas,” said Ade. “I wasn’t going to wait around for someone else to figure that out. People should be able to be proud that these products were made right here.” The company uses equipment custom-designed and built in the U.S. and sources grain only from Texas and Colorado.
Ade and Michael Harris, Oskar Blues’ Head Brewer in Austin and malt enthusiast, first started working together by incorporating Blacklands malt into specialty beers; then in the fall of 2017 they started talking about a larger project. Ade said, “I approached Tim and Michael and asked, ‘how can we get this malt out there and capture something unique and authentic going on in Austin?’ The conversation evolved and we started looking at the Munich malts used in Dale’s.”
What followed were months of research and development, and collaboration between the two teams, including the Oskar Blues’ lab headed by Brian Roye. Eventually the kiln schedule and recipe were dialed in to develop Brown Field 10 Texas Munich, which meets the color and toasty flavor profile required to brew Dale’s Pale Ale.
“I don’t know of any other iconic flagships doing something like this,” said Matthews. “And we hope people will start coming into the taproom and saying, ‘I want something with Texas malt in it.’ It’s sustainable, and contributing back to a sustainable world is definitely important to us. This is a major way we can illustrate that.”
Harris has an equally compelling reason for pursuing craft malt – it’s part of supporting the community. “I’ve been interested in where ingredients come from since I started professionally brewing. It’s important to use local ingredients and to be involved in the community,” he said.
Ade added that it’s important to raise awareness around the connection between the consumer and the supply chain, and to call attention to the farmers that grow the barley that ends up in beer. Blacklands has worked with Texas A&M University since 2012 on research that aims to empower farmers to grow barley. “It’s about supporting farm families outside of hops – hops get a lot of limelight. Malting is equally important.”
Dale’s Pale Ale brewed with Blacklands Malt’s Brown Field 10 Texas Munich is now available in Texas and surrounding states. Track it down using the beerfinder.
About Blacklands Malt
Prior to our founding in 2012, no barley, wheat, or rye was grown and malted in Texas for use in beer and spirits. Since that time our founder has been the driving force behind the revitalization of Texas-grown malting barley statewide, providing brewers with access to local malt for the first time in Texas history. We are happy to see that the industry continues to grow in the trail we have blazed. Our privately funded research with Texas A&M started in 2012 and has grown into a much larger statewide effort with public access to the data. Our hope is that this data empowers farmers to pursue barley production as a viable and rewarding crop alternative, in turn creating a robust supply chain for Texas-grown barley.
To find out more about Blacklands Malt, visit http://blacklandsmalt.com/
About Oskar Blues Brewery
Founded over 20 years ago in Lyons, Colorado, Oskar Blues Brewery launched the craft beer-in-a-can apocalypse with their hand-canned flagship brew, Dale’s Pale Ale. Today, Oskar Blues operates breweries in Colorado, North Carolina and Texas while reaching 200,000 barrels per year and featuring Dale’s Pale Ale as the nation’s #4 top-selling craft can six-pack at U.S. supermarkets. Oskar Blues is available in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and parts of 17 other countries. Along with Cigar City Brewing, Perrin Brewing Company, Squatters Craft Beers and Wasatch Brewery, Deep Ellum Brewing and Three Weavers Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery is a member of CANarchy, a disruptive collective of like-minded craft brewers dedicated to bringing high-quality, innovative flavors to drinkers in the name of independent craft beer.
To keep up with all things Oskar Blues, visit http://www.oskarblues.com/
Trigo is the sixth release Founders Brewing Co. has brewed for ArtPrize, an art competition held every other year in Grand Rapids, Michigan (other past releases for this event include beers like Green Zebra and Mosaic Promise). The nose boasts big aromatics of orange and pineapple that carry through on the palate; it’s clearly been brewed with an abundance of late-addition hops like most IPAs these days, but there’s a balance to the beer. The fruit notes linger on into the finish, along with a slight dankness and firm bitterness.
SAMUEL ADAMS DUNKELWEIZEN The Boston Beer Co.
Boston, Massachusetts 5.1% | Dunkelweizen
An exclusive to the brewery’s Fall Can Variety Pack, Samuel Adams Dunkelweizen offers a complex nose of toasted malt and clove, with a bit of bubblegum. There’s a bit of grape on the palate, but this one’s all about the marriage of those toasted dark malt flavors with German weizen yeast. It’s a little toasty, a little tart and a little tangy, with a creamy mouthfeel. And it’s as evocative of fall as any other beer in the variety pack, including the brewery’s popular Oktoberfest.
CALL TO ARMS BROSÉ Call to Arms Brewing Co.
Denver, Colorado 4.8% | Raspberry Ale w/ Sorachi Ace Hops & Champagne Yeast The rosé trend continues with Call to Arms Brewing Co.’s Brosé, which is brewed with organic raspberries from Oregon, Sorachi Ace hops, and fermented with a Champagne yeast. Not surprisingly the raspberries are discernable on the nose, and while they are present on the palate they never come across as overly sweet. It’s doing a disservice to a far more complex beer, but thinking of raspberry-flavored La Croix will put you in the right mind. The hops and malt bill are restrained, so that the raspberries might shine through. The fruit is fleeting though, and a dry finish invites another sip. It’s light, effervescent, and one of the most easy drinking rosé beers I’ve had to date.
Brewed in collaboration with Girls Pint Out, Peachy Queen gose is brewed with peaches, basil and cardamom. The tartness and sharp acidity that have become the calling card of kettle sours are apparent on the nose, while the peach is more subtle. It does come through on the palate, where the fruit’s natural sweetness helps balance out the beer’s tartness. The basil is really well integrated; it’s just barely there, but it works well with the sweet peach. Given that the herb works well in lemonade, it’s not surprising that basil works just as well in this tart and citrusy beverage.
FINBACK CHILLBOT Finback Brewery
Queens, New York City 8.3% | Double-Dry-Hopped Double IPA
Fresh orange zest and pineapple waft from the glass. The first sip reveals more pineapple, mango and just a hint of dankness. Chillbot has a luscious mouthfeel and a substantial bitterness, and it strikes that big, juicy character that so many brewers are striving for these days.
Poured from a Crowler, the nose on Juicy Sunrise is sweet and tropical, with notes of mango and passion fruit. It’s properly hazy and lands on the sweeter side of most New-England-style IPAs, with a more delicate melon rind flavor that complements the beer’s juicier qualities.
Adventurous. Forward-thinking. Experimental. Though these words describe Tröegs Independent Brewing’s beer, they have also come to define the brewery’s in-house restaurant.
“We call our restaurant the Snack Bar because it’s reminiscent of liking snack bars as a kid,” says John Trogner, who with his brother Chris founded the brewery in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
(Photo courtesy Tröegs Independent Brewing)
Don’t let the name fool you though, what’s served at the Snack Bar is anything but the hot dogs sitting under a heat lamp found at most snack bars. Think serious yet playful dishes like little neck clams topped with house bacon, heirloom tomatoes, fresh corn and pesto, or beef tongue tacos finished with tomato salsa, crème fraiche and cilantro. If snack bar food is truly what you desire, look for the foie gras corndog that occasionally graces the menu as a special.
“We develop our Snack Bar menu items much like we do beer recipes with our Scratch Series,” says Trogner. “It’s our way of constantly experimenting and moving forward.”
Each month, Tröegs releases anywhere from three to eight Scratch Beers, many of which tie in seasonal ingredients found within a hundred miles of the brewery, an area dubbed Pennsylvania’s Fruit Belt. This use of seasonal ingredients—often harvested with the help of Tröegs’ employees—allows Tröegs to add terroir to those beers. The beers that garner the best response will be developed through future Scratch releases.
A popular example of a beer that came from this process is Hop Knife IPA.
“That first smell of Hop Knife, when I crack open a bottle, takes me right to the hop fields in Yakima,” says Trogner. “When we’re out there for harvest, walking the fields and talking to the farmers, those notes of citrus, pine, and tropical fruit are everywhere. For me, Hop Knife embodies that whole experience.”
Trogner admits that Tröegs didn’t start out brewing such forward thinking beers like Troegenator, Nimble Giant and Mad Elf.
“We started brewing easy beers and that didn’t go so well. Then we thought, if we’re going down, we might as well have fun doing it,” says Trogner. “Our brewery’s success was built on taking a risk with beer.”
Foeders at Tröegs Independent Brewing. (Photo courtesy Tröegs Independent Brewing)
Each season Tröegs’ creative food team comes up with ideas for the Snack Bar menu by looking at what beers are available and what’s available at local farms. A kitchen team member then takes the ideas, creates recipes, and serves the dishes to the team. Items that make the cut are then tested as specials for customer reaction.
“We are fortunate to have a lot of people with the same mindset—that are smart, passionate, and want to experiment,” says Trogner. “That also makes us our hardest critics.”
This fall, expect a hearty menu of Pennsylvania Dutch comfort foods with a Tröegs twist, like a braised brisket sandwich on brioche with mustard slaw and house steak sauce and duck confit with creamed corn polenta, blistered tomatoes, hot pepper jam and frisee.
“Food that’s fun and interesting, yet accessible for those who may be afraid to step outside the box,” says Matt Lett, executive chef of the Snack Bar. “At the end of the day it’s just food. Our job is to make sure people are fed well and have fun.”
(Photo courtesy Tröegs Independent Brewing)
The brewery’s experimentation with beer and food isn’t limited to the taproom. The brewery helps fans experiment with the intersection of food and beer via their Food Notes program. Available at the taproom and on the company’s website are flyers that highlight which flavors complement, contrast (in a good way), and act adversely with their flagship beers.
“It’s how we teach customers to translate food memory as clearly as possible,” says Trogner.
Pair a complementary piece of fresh mango with Perpetual IPA and notice how the fruity esters from the hops are even more pronounced, or a contrasting piece of basil with Dreamweaver Wheat Beer for an anise nuance that’s reminiscent of an old world cookie. On the adverse side (and something you probably don’t want to try), pair a sour pickle with Troegenator Double Bock for a garlic flavor that unpleasantly lingers on the tongue.
“It shouldn’t be pretentious,” says chef Lett. “A group of friends can get together and do this.”
The Snack Bar is only the tip of the iceberg for all that Tröegs has planned for the future of the brewery’s kitchen. In the works is a house-cured charcuterie program that will be unrivaled elsewhere in the country, with menu items like coppa, saucisson sec, guanciale, wild-fennel tenderloin and duck prosciutto, all from pasture-raised animals from a farm owned by a former Tröegs’ brewer.
“Don’t be surprised if you find an aquaponics farm at the brewery using rain run-off from our building,” adds Trogner. It’s all in an effort for Tröegs to revolutionize food much like they did beer.
Hop selection in Yakima Valley. (Photo courtesy Tröegs Independent Brewing)
For now, though, be on the lookout for the very limited, once-a-year Golden Thing Double IPA release, which hits shelves and taps Oct. 1 and highlights the Lemondrop hop the brew team discovered on their last harvest visit to Yakima Valley.
Bryan M. Richards is a beer, food, and travel writer based in Charlotte. His work has appeared in All About Beer, Men’s Journal, and just about anything with the word Charlotte in it. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @brichwrites.
MILTON, Del.—On an endless exploration of goodness, Dogfish Head is proud to be a craft brewery producing and celebrating sour and wild ales for over two decades and is excited to announce the launch of its brand new, funky wild beer program, “Wooden…It Be Nice!” With three wild ales primed for a 2018 Milton-only release, and more releases to come in future years, the brewers at Dogfish have already hand-bottled over two-thousand cork and caged 375ml bottles, each one hand painted with a special stripe signifying its uniquely crafted touch.
“About fifteen years ago, we first started experimenting with sours, beginning with Festina Lente – a peach wild ale that won us a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup in 2006 – then went on to produce SeaQuench Ale which is currently the top selling sour in America,” said Sam Calagione, CEO and founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. “Now, we’re amplifying our wild beer program with Wooden…It Be Nice!, as it’s another step forward in our journey and evolution of goodness incorporating everything from herbs and spices, to local fruits, and of course, bringing it all together in wood.” Dogfish Head is the number one producer of the fastest growing beer in the fastest growing craft beer style in America – SeaQuench Ale, a session sour.*
So what makes a beer wild? It’s different from traditional brewing in that it’s fermented with wild yeast variations, like Brettanomyces and often times with bacteria like Lactobacillus or Pediococcus. The yeast and bacteria are carefully introduced to the wood-aged beer, which can develop a wide array of flavors, including degrees of sourness, funkiness and fruitiness. Due to the untamable nature of the yeast, the beer can sit in barrels for months or even years till brewers deem it ready for consumption. This process can sometimes delay the release of the beer, but when it’s finally ready, it’s truly remarkable. Isn’t that wild?
The “Wooden…It Be Nice!” program opens with the release of KnottyBits, a wild ale (8.2% ABV) aged on sweet and sour cherries and rhubarb, available beginning September 29 at 11 a.m. KnottyBits was wood-aged for a year with Brettanomyces and then racked onto several hundred pounds of sweet and sour cherries and locally sourced rhubarb from Fifer Orchards at a rate of more than 2 lbs. of fresh fruit per gallon. KnottyBits is bottle conditioned for an elevated carbonation resembling a ruby red colored sparkling wine of sorts. Priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 2000 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.
Look for Wet Hop American Summer in early November – a Farmhouse Ale (7.75% ABV), this beer was aged in freshly emptied Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces for over a year, before being racked onto freshly harvested and hand-selected whole leaf Citra hops, still wet from the fields. The resulting beer has a great citrus aroma from the hops which is a perfect complement to the funky and rustic nature of the Farmhouse Ale base. Wet Hop American Summer is priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 1500 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.
In mid-December, the brewery will release Eastern Seaboard, a wild ale (8% ABV) brewed with blackberries and beach plums. After spending almost a year and a half aging in wine barrels, the liquid was met with several hundred pounds of blackberry and Eastern Shore beach plums, handpicked and selected by the brewers. The jamminess of the blackberry and tartness of the plums perfectly pair with one another in this deceptively dry beer. Eastern Seaboard is bottle conditioned to achieve champagne-like carbonation and is violet in color. Priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 2000 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.
For more information about upcoming “Wooden It Be Nice!” bottle release dates, visit dogfish.com and Dogfish Head social accounts: Facebook: @dogfishheadbeer, Twitter: @dogfishbeer, and Instagram: dogfishhead.
* (IRI Total US Multi Outlet + Conv 28 Weeks ending 7/17/2018)
Dogfish Head has proudly been focused on brewing beers with culinary ingredients outside the Reinheitsgebot since the day it opened as the smallest American craft brewery 23 years ago. Dogfish Head has grown into a top-20 craft brewery and has won numerous awards throughout the years including Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Brewery of the Year and the James Beard Foundation Award for 2017 Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional. It is a 350+ coworker company based in Delaware with Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, an off-centered brewpub and distillery, Chesapeake & Maine, a geographically enamored seafood restaurant, Dogfish Inn, a beer-themed inn on the harbor and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, a production brewery and distillery featuring a tasting room and food truck. Dogfish Head supports the Independent Craft Brewing Seal, the definitive icon for American craft breweries to identify themselves to be independently-owned and carries the torch of transparency, brewing innovation and the freedom of choice originally forged by brewing community pioneers. Dogfish Head currently sells beer in 43 states and Washington D.C. and will expand into additional states in 2018. For more information, visitwww.dogfish.com, Facebook: @dogfishheadbeer, Twitter: @dogfishbeer, and Instagram: dogfishhead.
Sixpoint Brevity Wit Sixpoint Brewery
Brooklyn, New York 6% | Witbier w/ Coriander, Orange Peel, Chamomile & Vanilla Beans
A limited release from Sixpoint Brewery, Brevity Wit is brewed with ingredients both traditional (coriander and orange peel) and untraditional (chamomile and vanilla beans). And if you look to the back of the can, you’ll also find that the beer comes in at 3.9 pH, a bit more acidic than your average Belgian wit.
The beer is indeed tart, but not overly so. There is a burst of citrus on the palate courtesy the orange peel, and the coriander lends a pleasant touch of spice. Those two more untraditional ingredients—the chamomile and vanilla beans—are more subdued, with the soft vanilla coming through in the finish. While Sixpoint has been producing some spectacular hazy IPAs these days, it was this fun blend of old and new that impressed me most this week.
East Brother Red Lager East Brother Beer Co.
Richmond, California 4.6% | Amber Lager
East Brother’s Red Lager offers up a “biscuity malt presence” as advertised, but there’s more to it than that. There is caramel, but less than you’ll find in most “red” beers. Surprisingly, there’s a good amount of dark fruit—fig, plum, Concord grape—which is complemented by a touch of citrusy hop bitterness. It’s balanced and medium-bodied, clean and crisp—and perfect for food and fall days to come.
Sierra Nevada / Weihenstephan Oktoberfest Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. & Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan
Chico, California & Mills River, North Carolina 6% | German-Style Marzen
Sierra Nevada collaborated with Weihenstephan earlier this year for Braupakt, a Hefeweissbier brewed with American hops. The two have joined forces once again for Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest, a collaboration through which Sierra Nevada partners with a different German brewery each year (Brauhaus Riegele in 2015, Mahrs Bräu in 2016 and Brauhaus Miltenberger in 2017).
Rest assured the world’s oldest brewery and one of craft’s most longstanding both know something of the style. This year’s Oktoberfest offers a rich malt character, with the lightest touch of caramel and toasted bread. There’s a leafy, herbal hop note that calls to mind black tea, with a twist of lemon. It’s remarkably balanced and incredibly refreshing. Enjoy it while it’s here.
Bear Republic Thru The Haze IPA Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Cloverdale, California 6.4% | New-England-Style IPA
West Coast stalwart Bear Republic Brewing Co., long known for beers like Racer 5 IPA and Cafe Racer 15, has now released a beer inspired by the Northeast. Thru The Haze is brewed with Citra, Vic Secret and Hallertau Blanc hops, and fermented with the Barbarian yeast that so many are using to produce New England-style IPAs.
The brewery’s inaugural hazy IPA doesn’t disappoint, with a big grapefruit punch, followed by orange peel and tangerines. There’s a touch of melon rind as well, but really it’s the grapefruit that dominates this beer’s profile.
Stone Anni-Matter Double IPA Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido, California 9.1% | Double IPA
Stone Brewing Co. wants to make one thing clear about its new 22nd anniversary double IPA: it’s “perfectly filtered.” Dubbed “the no haze double IPA,” Anni-Matter pours with the same clarity you’ve come to expect from Stone these last 22 years.
There’s not much to the nose of the beer, but then you’re caught by surprise. The first taste reveals big kiwi, grapefruit and papaya notes. Filtered or unfiltered, it comes across as quite distinctive among many of today’s IPAs. There’s a substantial bitterness and an herbal mintiness on the finish.
The fiftieth beer in Avery’s Barrel-Aged Series, Raspberry Truffale is a bourbon-barrel-aged stout brewed with chocolate and fresh raspberries. Like Plank’d, one of our Six to Seek selections from June, Raspberry Truffale manages to be both big and balanced. The raspberry and chocolate are both discernable on the nose, and the two ingredients are equally balanced on the palate. The raspberry never veers toward artifical or cloying, but instead feels fresh and bright amid a stream of milk chocolate. The bourbon is there, too, but it’s much more subtle than other offerings from Avery. A trace of nuttiness on the finish calls to mind a PB and (raspberry) J.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virg.–With its flagship location in Atlanta, Ga., New Realm Brewing Company is branching out to Virginia Beach. Co-founded by Carey Falcone, Bob Powers and Mitch Steele, the brewery features a tasting room offering more than 15 different types of beers on tap, a 44,000 square feet outdoor beer garden with fire pits, adult game areas and newly added patio bar, and a large private event space.
With a 50-barrel brewhouse spearheaded by brewmaster Mitch Steele and head brewer Evan Chamberlain, the opening tap list includes the popular Hoplandia and Hoptropolis American IPA brands, Euphonia Pilsner and Kikimora Imperial IPA. Patrons will also enjoy select brews from limited release, small-batch specialty beers seasonally. The facility can brew up to 40,000 barrels annually and is built to scale to even larger capacities in the future.
Local food trucks will be on site daily and bands are scheduled every Friday through Sunday. A full-service restaurant is slated to open in early 2019.
“We’re thrilled to open our doors in Virginia Beach,” said Carey Falcone, co-founder and CEO of New Realm Brewing Company. “The Hampton Roads region is known for a fun, active lifestyle, making it a great place to feature our exciting beers, one-of-a-kind restaurant and inviting event venue.”
With a distribution agreement recently inked with Hoffman Beverage, craft beer fans can now knock back pints at local craft-focused bars, restaurants and retailers in Southside Hampton Roads. Packaged beer will be introduced early in 2019.
“Everyone we worked with at the City of Virginia Beach has been extremely helpful to make this a successful venture for New Realm Brewing Company,” said Falcone. “We are investing heavily in our new Virginia Beach brewery and community by enhancing the quality lab, installing additional Krones Unitanks from Germany, as well as building an outdoor bar, a full kitchen and seating for more than 400 people. We anticipate hiring 105 people at current full capacity.”
The tasting room and beer garden are open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Opening Weekend Events Include:
Thursday, September 6: Music by The Deloreans and cuisine by La Cucina Di Sophia and Hangry’s; Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, September 7: Music by Brian Schultz beginning at 6 p.m. and cuisine by Pelican Pete’s Pizza and Redwood Smoke Shack.
Saturday, September 8: Music by Michael Clark Band beginning at 6 p.m. and cuisine by Sofrito and Vicki Vails.
Sunday, September 9: Music by Roebuck Band beginning at 3 p.m. and cuisine by Pittsburgh’s Best and 4 Spices Mediterranean.
New Realm Brewing is located at 1209 Craft Lane, Virginia Beach, Va. 23454. For a complete list of hours, information on private events and more, visit www.newrealmbrewing.com.
About New Realm Brewing Company
New Realm Brewing Company is an American craft brewery started in 2016 by co-founders Carey Falcone, Bob Powers and Mitch Steele in Atlanta,Ga. On a mission to rethink tradition and bend the rules, the team planted their first production facility in a 20,000-square-foot space on Atlanta’s east side Beltline trail, featuring a 25hl brewhouse, 3,000-square-foot restaurant, rooftop patio and beer garden. In August 2018, the second location opened its doors in Virginia Beach, Va. Renaissance man and brewing legend, Mitch Steele received the Russell Scherer Award for Innovation in Brewing in 2014 and co-authored the book IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale in 2012. New Realm Brewing’s core principles are quality, creativity, authenticity, and striving for perfection, all with a customer-centric commitment and approach. For more information, please visit www.newrealmbrewing.com.
With a light, bready sweetness and crisp finish, MadTree’s Lift nails the refreshing character you want in a Kölsch. There’s soft lemon not out of keeping with the style, but also an orange peel note that suggests American hops are also used. A visit to the brewery’s website reveals that the beer is indeed hopped not just with the more traditional Hallertau Mittelfruh, but also Cascade and Pacifica. They are used sparingly, however, providing enough citrus to keep things interesting without overhopping an otherwise delicate beer. Lift is ideal for these last days of summer.
SINGIN’ RIVER SHOALS OKTOBERFEST Singin’ River Brewing Co.
Florence, Alabama 6% | German-Style Marzen
When I had Singin’ River’s Citracabra earlier this summer, I was surprised at how restrained the brewery’s kettle sour was–especially considering that beer’s label. No one-trick pony, it turns out Singin’ River is as adept at brewing a Marzen as it is a dry-hopped sour. Shoals Oktoberfest pours amber, with rich Munich malt on the nose. The lightest caramel complements the beer’s toasted maltiness, and a spicy, noble hop profile helps to balance the beer. The result is a beer that’s true to style, exceptionally drinkable and a great choice with or without food.
PFRIEM SUPER SAISON pFriem Family Brewers
Hood River, Oregon 9.5% | Farmhouse Ale
Often one of the more satisfying aspects of a saison is that big, pillowy head, and pFriem’s Super Saison doesn’t disappoint in that department. This highly carbonated farmhouse ale pours an impressive head that sticks around, giving off sourdough and light lemon on the nose. In addition to the Belgian yeast and a bit of clove, the beer has a gentle floral quality and tart fruit notes (specifically kiwi, with a little pear as well). It’s a Super Saison, indeed–it takes everything you want in that classic farmhouse profile, and then amplifies it. DRAKE’S BRIGHTSIDE EXTRA BRUT IPA Drake’s Brewing Co.
San Leandro, California
7% | Brut IPA After brewing several test batches of Brut IPA, Drake’s Brewing Co. is rolling out kegs and six-packs of its take on the emerging style throughout California. Like many brewers, Drake’s uses amylase enzymes to ferment additional sugars, leaving the beer with an extra dry finish. Brightside is hopped with Centennial, Simcoe, Hallertau Blanc and Hallertau Mandarina, and it’s those latter two that contribute white grape and lemon notes that are well suited to the style’s characteristic dryness. One of the most fun things about Brut IPAs is the way the overall hop profile of the beer changes when the beer is stripped of virtually all sweetness. Doing so doesn’t amplify the tropical, juicy notes, as has been the M.O. over the last few years, but instead changes the nature of the beer entirely.
The latest in SweetWater’s Catch and Release series of seasonal beers, this one is double-dry-hopped with a single hop variety–in this case, of course, it’s Mosaic. One of the most popular hops of the last few years, here it contributes zesty orange and sweet pineapple, though there is surprisingly a little dankness on the nose. There is a touch of wheatiness behind the hop character, and the beer has a refreshing quality thanks to a clean, quick finish that leaves you wanting more.
ECLIPTIC / MODERN TIMES PINEAPPLE HAZY IPA Ecliptic Brewing Co. & Modern Times Beer
Portland, Oregon 8.5% | Double IPA w/ Pineapple
For its latest “Cosmic Collaboration,” Ecliptic Brewing Co. joined forces with Modern Times Beer, which recently opened a tasting room in Portland. The resulting Pineapple Hazy IPA is also the brewery’s first foray into 500-mL bottles, as “beer drinkers prefer bottles that are a true pint and easier to finish in one pour,” according to Alaric Lawrence, packaging manager at Ecliptic Brewing Co.
The new hazy IPA is brewed not just with fresh pineapple, but also with the Denali hop, which gives off a pineapple flavor of its own. Citra and Mosaic are also used, contributing bright, vibrant notes of nectarine and lemon zest. With a creamy body and an abundance of fruity notes from both the pineapple and the hops, this collaboration is one to seek out.
BADGER STATE WI BIEN Badger State Brewing Co.
Green Bay, Wisconsin 4.7% | Mexican-Style Lager w/ Limes
Badger State Brewing Co.’s Wi Bien is the second lime-infused Mexican-style lager to make our Six to Seek (the first being Hangar 24’s Aventura). Both beers, as so many others in the market right now, show that brewing this broad style isn’t so much about hewing to tradition, but rather using ingredients that put you in mind of the style. “Perhaps as often as anything else,” writes Ken Weaver, “it’s about capturing that vibe of drinking a Mexican lager.”
Lime is an easy way to do that, so it’s no surprise that many are brewing with an ingredient that others are content to garnish any number of Mexican beers. In the case of Wi Bien, which is brewed with both lime zest and lime juice, that tart lime is the most noticeable aroma coming out of the glass. Behind that lime is a sweet pilsner breadiness that helps balance the tartness; and even the limes, too, seem to add their own sweetness. If you’re the kind to occasionally slip a wedge of lime down the neck of a bottle, you’ll find that this does indeed capture that vibe.
While some bemoan “seasonal creep” and others wait until at least September to enjoy an Oktoberfest, I’m happy to enjoy the style no matter the weather. It doesn’t hurt that the last couple of days here in North Carolina have been much cooler than usual, a sign that fall is indeed right around the corner.
In my home state, that means thousands will soon journey to Asheville, a mecca for fans of beer and fall foliage alike. Hi-Wire’s Zirkusfest is one of the city’s best Oktoberfest beers, having won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2016. With notes of rich Munich malt, a touch of caramel sweetness, a firm noble hop character and a dry finish, this limited release could indeed be enjoyed year-round–but there’s no doubt that it’s best enjoyed during (or on the cusp of) autumn.
A new “milkshake IPA,” Cloud Catcher has graduated from Odell’s pilot system to all 18 states in the brewery’s distribution. It’s brewed with lactose and double-dry-hopped with Azacca, Cashmere, Citra and Galaxy, which all lead to big notes of pineapple, apricot, tangerine and grapefruit, on the nose and on the palate. It’s no doubt juicy, but there’s a just-right bitterness and a little West Coast character as well. As the brewery notes in its press release for this beer, it can be difficult to scale up hazy IPAs such as this for full distribution–but the brewery has managed to do it.
HOP BUTCHER / ASLIN STEALING SIGNS Hop Butcher For The World & Aslin Beer Co.
Darien, Illinois 7.5% | Hazy Double IPA
This collaboration from Hop Butcher For The World & Aslin Beer Co. is hopped with Galaxy, Simcoe and the seldom-seen Moutere. It’s that last one, bred from Southern Cross and a New Zealand hop, that seems to give this double IPA an interesting bit of spiciness. Not pepper spiciness, of course, but something more like a sprig of rosemary. It comes across as a little jarring at first, but only because that note isn’t often found in hazy IPAs. It takes just a couple of sips for it to click, with that spiciness complemented by the more expected notes of tangy grapefruit, orange zest and a trace of dankness. With a creamy mouthfeel and a distinctive take on a style everyone’s brewing these days, this one’s worth seeking out.
The brut and rosé trends show no signs of slowing down, with this latest example coming from Chicago’s Forbidden Root. This one is brewed with Niagara grapes and, like others, gets its pinkish hue from hibiscus. Were you to sip this blind, you genuinely might think you were drinking wine. Not only is it remarkably winelike in aroma and flavor–with notes of lemon, white grape and a dry finish–but it’s about as strong as a wine at 10% ABV. There’s a glimmer of hop character and bitterness, but not so much to bring you back to beer world. And yet, of course, we know it to be an ale- and a cleverly disguised one at that.
FOUNDERS CURMUDGEON’S BETTER HALF Founders Brewing Co.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 12.7% | Maple-Syrup-Bourbon-Barrel-Aged Old Ale w/ Molasses
The fifth beer in Founders’ Barrel-Aged Series, Curmudgeon’s Better Half is back and released in the brewery’s taprooms today (it should also hit shelves later this month). The brewery made many fans happy when it brought CBS out of retirement, and now they’ve done the same with Curmudgeon’s Better Half, which was last released in 2012.
Like that earlier release, this year’s version is the brewery’s old ale aged in barrels that held bourbon before going on to age maple syrup. The bourbon is most distinguishable on the nose alone, but the first sip reveals a depth of flavor: not only the bourbon and maple syrup, but sweet caramel, rich malt, fig and vanilla. It’s boozy bread pudding in a glass.
Earlier I wrote of how I could enjoy an Oktoberfest all year long, and I can certainly do the same with Curmudgeon’s Better Half. But if you pick up a four-pack or an extra 750-mL bottle, do yourself a favor and stash one away for winter. You won’t regret it.
ANCHOR STEAM Anchor Brewing Co.
San Francisco, California 4.9% | California Common
Did you know we’re on the tail end of Drink Steam Week? While there are plenty of events in San Francisco and beyond, you don’t need to be in the city by the bay to celebrate. This is the fourth year that the city of San Francisco has recognized the week, however it marks the first time that you can enjoy the revolutionary Anchor Steam beer in cans–big, 19.2-ounce cans, in fact. If it’s been a while since you’ve had one, you’ll be happy to know that the beer in those cans tastes just as you’re accustomed to finding it from the brewery’s distinctive bottles: with a smooth, lightly toasted malt character, woodsy hops and a flourish of crisp apple on the finish.
Given the name and the pomegranate and passion fruit on the label, you might expect Abita’s new “tropical ale” to be little more than a sweet, simplistic fruit beer, something aimed at cocktail drinkers. The fruit used is indeed very present: pomegranate comes through on the nose, a perfume of peach following it. And it’s fruit-forward on the palate, not just with pomegranate and passion fruit but with a bit of melon rind as well.
All of that fruit and sweetness, though, is well balanced the hops; Ekuanot and Centennial add bitterness as well as fruit notes of their own, with big citrus and pine and a medium body thanks to the oats. The beer should no doubt appeal to fruit beer lovers, but fans of IPAs will find much to appreciate as well. The beer captures that tropical feeling, landing somewhere in between the fruity wheat beers of the past and the fruited IPAs of today.
HIGH WATER VIOLETS ARE BLUE High Water Brewing Lodi, California 6% | American Wild Ale w/ Boysenberries, Violet Flowers & Orris Root
Part of High Water’s CAlambic (California lambic) series, Violets Are Blue is brewed with violet flowers, boysenberries and orris root (the root of an iris flower) and spent a full year maturing in oak barrels. The beer pours a beautiful plum-colored pour, with a big sour tartness and boysenberries noticeable on the nose. The sourness is assertive but not harsh, balanced by a floral quality from the violet and orris root (I have to confess this is the first time I’ve had a beer brewed with that ingredient). The floral sweetness keeps things from being too acidic, and toasted oak comes through on the finish. The sourness lingers, beckoning another sip.
THE RARE BARREL SUMMER’S GONNA HURT YOU
The Rare Barrel
6.3% | Barrel-Aged Golden Sour w/ Masumoto Peaches & Nectarines
A blend of barrel-aged golden sours aged with nectarines and Masumoto peaches, The Rare Barrel will release bottles of Summer’s Gonna Hurt You at its taproom tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 18). The beer pours bright and light gold, with a highly active yet fleeting head. The aroma offers up a sharp, lactic tartness, with a glimmer of peach. That sharpness on the nose belies what is actually a really refined, moderate sourness, mellowed by fruit and time. In addition to the peaches and nectarines, there are notes of unripe strawberry and even a light cream on the finish.
DESCHUTES FRESH HAZE Deschutes Brewery
Bend, Oregon 6.5% | Hazy IPA A new offering in the “Fresh Family” of beers inspired by the brewery’s Fresh Squeezed IPA, Fresh Haze is, as you might expect, billed as a hazy IPA. In truth, the beer pours with more of a caramel color than most New-England-style IPAs. There’s grapefruit and pine on the nose, but the palate is papaya and candied peach. Despite the amber-ish pour, the sweetness comes across as hop driven, and not from caramel malts. The beer doesn’t scream hazy IPA, but it is indeed a fresh, fruit-forward IPA worth trying.
REUBEN’S BREWS 6TH ANNIVERSARY STYLE JUICE Reuben’s Brews
Seattle, Washington 8% | Double-Dry-Hopped Double Hazy IPA
Released earlier this month to celebrate the sixth anniversary of Reuben’s Brews, this IPA was dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy and Vic Secret to create a beer that the brewery described as its “juiciest IPA yet.” The nose, indeed, is super juicy; the kind of IPA that fills the room the second you crack the can. There is fresh orange and grapefruit, but also something like bubble gum in the nose–not the archetypal, classic bubble gum you might expect in a hefeweizen, but something more along the lines of Juicy Fruit. There’s an abundance of pineapple on the palate. Despite the beer’s big, juicy character, there is also a decent bitterness and a relatively dry finish.
Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, which dates from medieval times, is a web of ancient cobbled streets teeming with trattorias, pizzerias and bars. A lively street scene and animated nightlife draw both locals and tourists to the west bank of the Tiber River for an evening of entertainment. In the heart of Trastevere, you’ll find Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà, the city’s most famous beer bar and the first to feature independent breweries exclusively.
Despite its understated exterior, the pub isn’t hard to locate. Make your way to the street named Via Benedetta. When you encounter a cluster of people drinking beer and socializing in front of a graffiti-strewn building with a decaying facade, you’ve arrived.
The entry is flanked by a collection of stickers from breweries around the world and is topped by a simple sign displaying the name Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà. The name translates loosely to “What did you come here for?” and is a soccer chant sung by the fanatic fans of Rome’s Lazio soccer team to taunt their opponents, especially during lopsided matches. In addition to being a first-rate beer bar, the pub is also a local’s soccer bar, and has been throughout its 16-year existence. Macchè, as it’s called locally, can take credit for introducing many a Lazio fan, and numerous other residents of Rome, to the joys of great beer.
(Photo by Dan Rabin)
There’s nothing fancy about the place. You enter into a tiny taproom with counter seating on one side and a small bar on the other. Together, the room seats 10 patrons. Behind the bar sits a row of a dozen copper-colored beer towers, each sporting a hand-written card with information about the beer being dispensed. A modest selection of bottled beers is on display in a refrigerated case mounted on the wall. During my visits, most of the bottles featured wild ales from Belgium and the United States. The ever-changing draft list is posted on a chalkboard on the opposite wall.
Beyond the bar area is a second compact space with table seating that might accommodate 30 people, assuming they’re not averse to close encounters of the beer kind. Televisions in each room broadcast soccer matches without sound while rock music plays in the background. The diminutive size of the two rooms is conducive to befriending fellow beer-lovers from around the world. The locals seem to prefer drinking on the street in front of the pub, which is quite acceptable in Rome.
There’s a downstairs room with a different vibe. Upholstered chairs and cubby-like spaces evoke a more lounge-like feel, suitable for quiet conversation. While the room was seldom used during my visits, it’s here that Lazio fans gather on game days to cheer on their beloved team, according to Macchè’s founder, Manuele Colonna, a Lazio supporter and passionate beer fan who opened the pub in 2001.
Colonna is a well-known figure within Italy’s tight-knit community of independent beer-makers. In addition to showcasing many small Italian breweries at Macchè, Colonna travels throughout Europe in search of beers to serve at the pub. When I ask Colonna how he selects beers, he barely mentions styles. Rather, he stresses the importance of a brewery’s philosophy and of a brewer’s heart and soul. “I like to recognize the brewer’s personality in the beer that I drink,” he explains.
The draft menu lists 15 beers and a cider. Italian breweries are well-represented. Beers from small German and Belgian breweries appear frequently. Styles cover a broad spectrum of German, Belgian, British and American ales and lagers. It’s likely that most patrons, even seasoned beer travelers, will be unfamiliar with many of the featured breweries. One exception is the well-known Cantillon Brewery, whose beers are often available on draft. Colonna has a close relationship with the owners of the revered Belgian Lambic producer.
Servers at Macchè are friendly to a fault and knowledgeable about the beers they serve.
“We like to tell our customers a story behind the beer they are drinking,” Colonna tells me over a glass of kellerbier procured from an obscure Franconian brewery. “That’s really important for us.”