Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
The backstory on Epicurious is that it was developed with the chef in mind, constructed to perfectly pair with any dish. Creature Comforts consulted the folks in charge of several of Georgia’s top restaurants to get their perspective on what the beer should be, and the result is an honest-to-god, canned Belgian table beer. Peppercorn aromas lead the nose into wafting bubblegum, sweet corn and soft floral tones, with no note overwhelming the other; the flavor shifts the order, with sweet orange blossom rounding quickly into peppery notes and sweet pear dancing at the edges of the tongue. The beer’s thin-but-not-watery body, refreshing finish and manageable 4.2% ABV do, in fact, make it a worthy companion for all kinds of food—we’re thinking herbed salmon to start.
Wicked Weed Brewing
That’s “raspberry death” for the non-polyglots, and it’s an apt choice of name: Close to two pounds per gallon of North Carolina-grown raspberries go into this sour blonde ale, giving it a cosmopolitan appearance —”This beer is a total Samantha,” one of DRAFT’s staffers said— and an aroma awash in fresh, clear berry character. Spoonfuls of chalky minerality help counteract the sugars; as the beer sits, the raspberry merges with oak to become more like a jammy Beaujolais. Stemmy cran-raspberry and smooth river stones connect on the tongue, with sharp, fruity acidity arriving fashionably late. When it comes to fruited sours, Wicked Weed doesn’t miss.
Death Valley Shootout
Fifty West Brewing Co.
How is it even possible for a 14% ABV, bourbon barrel-aged stout brewed with maple syrup to be so … fluffy? Brewed in Cincinnati, Ohio, DVS is packed with rich, sticky flavors like oily espresso, sweet almond, dark chocolate and touches of tobacco, but its body is soft and airy as whipped cream. Every other aspect of the beer, from its inky black hue and dense espresso-foam head to its aroma that balances sweet wet tobacco, hazelnut, torched marshmallow and blueberry pie, belies its gossamer texture. Again, how is it possible? Someone needs to get back to us on this.
What I’m about to say will undoubtedly cue up the bows on thousands of the world’s tiniest violins, but tasting IPAs all day can get, well, boring. Popular hop varieties are popular with everyone, and after a while each piney, citrusy and tropical IPA starts to taste like the last. That’s why it’s so refreshing when we encounter hop flavor we haven’t before, and that’s exactly why we loved Meridian. Brewed solely with Meridian hops, the 7% IPA tastes like fancy spa water—cucumber skin, honeydew melon, cooling spearmint—and deeper drams draw out deeper herbal notes like dill, cilantro and spruce. Those flavors make each sip cooling and restorative; the beer would be perfect post-massage. Can’t say that about most IPAs.