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The best beers we tasted this week

In Draft's never-ending quest to drink all the beers, we occasionally come across some gems. These are the bottles and cans we cracked this week that most impressed our palates.


Lazer Raptor
Central State Brewing

So many fruit-flavored goses either go too fruity (like your mom’s strawberry margarita mix) or too salty (like the rim on your mom’s glass of strawberry margarita). This cranberry- and lime-spiked edition from Indianapolis hits that sweet spot between both, starting with the tight-knit, mouthwatering aroma that fuses berry twang with tart lime under minerally earthiness. Sweet-tart cranberry juice leads the sip before limeade rushes in, but the finish introduces a thud of earthy funk, like grungy soil. Cranberry tartness crescendos through the sip but never gets overbearing; the sip parachutes to a soft, earthy finish that’s softened by cherry pits. The beer’s tart, for sure, but it’s also impressively rounded, and the acid never reaches unpleasant levels. Overall, you get a next-level fruit gose, keeping the best parts of the rustic, earthy style while introducing an authentic, complementary but never overbearing fruit character.

Oh, and the label has a raptor shooting laser beams from its eyes. Badass.

Saison Chene Rustique
Toolbox Brewing Co.

Brewmaster Ehren Schmidt maintains a library of deconstructed yeast and bacteria strains in a freezer at Toolbox’s taproom in Vista, California; with each new batch of wort destined for aging in the brewery’s barrels and foeders, he picks out specific groups of bugs based on the flavors they’ll contribute, much in the same way another brewer might boost a beer’s complexity by adding several varieties of hops. Accordingly, this multi-grain wild ale is aged four months in oak foeders with saccharomyces cerevisiae, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus brevis, pediococcus damnosus and three different strain of brettanomyces bruxellensis. That gang of microorganisms does indeed build a layered flavor in Saison Chene Rustique: Sunny, dried lemon peel appears first on the tongue, morphing into pineapple juice midsip and diving into a pool of kiwi at the close. Sharp wheat and the perfect amount of Pedio add earthiness and complexity, while juicy fruit flavors cushion powerful tartness. It’s a beautiful beer, both incredibly cohesive in its presentation of flavor and built upon several strata of bacterial complexity. Schmidt obviously has a deep understanding of microflora.

RaR Brewing

This is what pale ales smell like in 2016: powerful orange, tangerine, grapefruit and mango, with an edge of pine that grows and grows. This is what they taste like: sweet and thick orange juice alongside pithy bitterness buoyed by honey and toasted cracker-flavored malts before a gentle, sliding finish. From branding (evocative orange allusions like Pulp, Ripe, Juice and Julius are so hot right now) to smooth, fruity aroma and flavor, Cambridge, Maryland’s Real Ale Revival has created a brew that exemplifies hoppy beers of the moment.

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