Prepare yourself for a terrible but accurate pun: The brewers at Peekskill have peak skillz. (Sorry.) Their talents are on full display in this pale ale hopped with Citra and Mosaic, which blends aromas of onion, garlic powder and parsley with sweeter mango, pineapple, creamsicles and grass. Each excellently balanced sip displays biscuity malt supporting (but not getting in the way of) garlicky, tangeriney hops, and while we could use a touch more bitterness to clean things up, this doesn’t impede enjoyability. Sort of a winter pale ale, NYPA would be great with nachos or tortilla soup.
It’s not often that two beers from one brewery make this list in the same week, but both of Peekskill’s cans were outstanding—and for different reasons. While NYPA was all about balance, this IPA is all about its Galaxy hopping. Quiet, spicy cracked pepper and epazote mingle in the nose with menthol and herbs—the hop character is resinous and oily, like rubbing together fresh cones. Nutty, toasty malts lead the flavor into swirls of lavender, rose, peach blossom and peppermint tea hops; a flash of passion fruit at the swallow is wiped away by clean, flowery bitterness. Get yourself to Peekskill, New York (about 30 miles north of Manhattan), and get some.
Barrel-Aged Ten FIDY
Oskar Blues Brewing Co.
The bourbon-aged version of Oskar Blues’ classic, canned imperial stout has been a felicitous find on draft for years; it saw the inside of aluminum for the first time in 2015 but was only sold out of OB’s taproooms. This year, however, the beer’s going national, which means it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a can and enjoy Fidy’s nougaty, cherrywood smoke-and-bourbon aroma or its flavor that balances sweet milk chocolate, butterscotch and fruity Black Forest cake. Buy two if you can; there’s plenty of body and whiskey heat to make throwing one in your cellar for a year worthwhile.
Founders Brewing Co.
It’s not very PC to say it, but a great many American-made pilsners suck. It’s a style that eschews eccentricity, so versions onto which brewers try to impart their personal ethos (Higher ABVs! More bitterness!) tend to fall flat. PC Pils is that rare example with personality—imparted, in this case, by Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops—as well as deference to the qualities that make the style so beloved. Though decidedly American, those hops impart an almost Noble character to the nose, with wet grass and fresh-cracked pepper brightened by orange blossoms and just a hint of tropical sweetness. On the tongue, saltine crackers support flavors of dried grass and pepper; the finish is balanced and dry, with lingering minerality, like you just licked a limestone. It’s a beer that’s crushable when you don’t want to think too hard about it but complex when you do—exactly what we want out of a pilsner.
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Where DRAFT’s editors do our writing and drinking (Phoenix, Arizona, monument to man’s arrogance), temperatures reach the triple digits well into October. So for us, the arrival of fall is marked by the appearance of two beer styles: the pumpkin beer (which we’re taking a long break from, thank you very much) and the fresh hop beer. Born Yesterday is by far the best version of the latter we’ve tasted this season. The 11 pounds of Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic hops Lagunitas says are used in each barrel of the beer impart an aroma replete with white onion juice, cilantro and tropical fruits—like a mango salsa—while grass and pineapple skin emerge with a swirl of the glass. The flavor follows the aroma closely, with onion skin leading into sugary mango, wheat grass and pineapple. Tangy tropical fruit rinds linger on the tongue after each sip, but not before a gentle lift of sweet angel food cake arrives at the swallow, and the bitterness is at perfect level. Just a damn delight, this beer.