Here’s the problem with drinking La Résolution: Every time you take a sip, there’s less of it to smell. The nose on this spiced Belgian strong dark ale is gorgeous, melding maple syrup, mulled cider, milk chocolate, red grapes, plums and bread crust. Even more fun can be found as it warms, with fragrances of anise and brown sugar livening things up. Unibroue should really get into the candle business. When (if) you do finally decide to drink the beer, things get spicier, with bold gingerbread and peppercorns sprinkled over more maple, brown sugar and dark fruits. Drying alcohol is more prominent than we’d like, but quick swallows allay this and result in a finish like plum-dipped gingerbread.
Lil’ Fugger IPA
4 Noses Brewing Co.
Not familiar with 4 Noses? Here are the CliffsNotes: The brewery opened in May 2014 in Broomfield, Colorado (a suburb of Denver); the name was suggested by a friend who witnessed the four noses of head brewer/owner Tommy Bibliowicz and Bibliowicz’s dad, mom and brother hard at work sniffing pints of Guinness during an Ireland trip in ’08. Bibliowicz makes some mighty fine IPAs. This cheekily named little guy is our favorite yet. Kettle additions of Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra and Nelson Sauvin—and dry hopping with Australian Galaxy and Amarillo—infuse the beer with a juicy, tropical nose that’s all about pineapples, mangos and glazed donuts. Give it a swirl, though, and dank notes rise up—sweet, sticky weed, garlic, wet grass. It’s a really pleasant blend. On the tongue, grass blades and chopped white onion cannonball into a pool of grapefruit juice and squishy bread dough; mild peppery bitterness arrives with a genial hello; and all the while the velvety, smooth body caresses the palate. This is one tasty lil’ fugger.
Okay Finback, this is getting ridiculous. It’s like every other week with you guys. And now you’re doing it with a black IPA brewed with smoked malts and rye? We’re not even big fans of the style, but there’s no arguing with that unctuous nose replete with pine smoke, dark chocolate-covered raisins and curacao—spicy, but with gentle nougat and grape sweetness below. Each smooth sip is a journey through pine tar, grapefruit zest and bright green grass. If we closed our eyes, we might be tricked; the only thing “black” about this IPA is the soft cocoa-and-burnt-toast bitterness that settles on the sides of the tongue after the swallow. It’s smoky, but not overtly so; the flavor merges with the sharpness of the rye and is softened by chocolate notes beautifully. Miasma makes a compelling case for black IPA’s existence.
Schlafly From the Ibex Cellar Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
The Saint Louis Brewery
Design geeks should enjoy Schlafly’s new “From the Ibex Cellar” series of big, barrel-aged beers in tiny bottles—the cardboard packaging of the series’ four-packs mimics the architecture of the Schlafly Tap Room and features an early-1900s typeface discovered in the St. Louis Public Library archives by one of the brewery’s designers. Beer geeks will love it, too, if every release in the series is as well-constructed as this bourbon-aged, 10.2% ABV imperial stout. Oodles of toasted coconut and dark chocolate mingle in the nose, Mounds bar-like, with hints of wet tobacco and spicy black molasses, plus some black licorice in the way, way back. The beer gains some fruitiness on the tongue, as lovely ripe strawberry and fig blend with caramel and butterscotch. Warm vanilla rises midpalate alongside chocolate-covered raisins; the swallow is all smoky, tobacco-laced wood with surprisingly dryness—oaky tannins and cocoa powder linger but sticky malt sugars don’t. Warm but not hot, flavorful and drinkable for its oomph, this is one of Schlafly’s best brews in a long time.
Imperial Coconut Porter
Maui Brewing Co.
What’s the only proper thing to do with a draft-only beer that wins gold in the Field Beer category at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival? You put that beer into bottles, son. Maui’s Imperial Coconut Porter is made with nearly twice the toasted coconut as its lower-ABV little brother, Hiwa Coconut Porter, but goes down just as easily, with sugary chocolate, burnt toast and medium-roast coffee supporting a loud-and-clear coconut flavor that leans dry and toasted in the front of the sip and shifts toward the sweeter, more confectionery creme pie aspects at the swallow. Aloha, indeed.