Smoke on the Porter
New Glarus Brewing Co.
Is there any style New Glarus brewmaster Dan Carey can’t absolutely nail? Brewed with Wisconsin-grown barley cold-smoked with cherry wood, this 6.1% ABV porter has a pillowy, oak-colored cap that descends at a glacial pace and exudes smoky/sweet aromas of cocoa, cola, dark cherries, tree bark, raisins and licorice as it does. The savory scent of sweet sausages browning in a pan melds with pancake batter-like malt notes to make pigs in blankets. While the front of flavor combines raisins, green apple skin, sweet cola and anise, the swallow dovetails smoke with roast, fusing both into a harmonious cherry and birch bark finish, with an exhale of soft tobacco smoke. It tastes like sitting in a log cabin in a velvet robe, watching snow slowly drift across the windows.
Blondes Make Me Hoppy
Civil Society Brewing Co.
Bright, pungent IPAs are this Jupiter, Florida-based brewery’s bag, and the intense hop schedule has spilled right over into this low-ABV blonde. Different single-hopped editions of the ale emerge regularly on Civil Society’s drafts; this version was made with Mosaic hops, the current Precious of beer-drinking Gollums, which lend it a nose that pours fresh grass over cantaloupe, berries and pastry-sweet malts. Hops probably shouldn’t be this prominent in a blonde, but the profile—vibrant and fresh, delicate but complex—is so nice we don’t really care. On the tongue, grass fades to underripe melon and a tropical rind-like bitterness. There’s enough neutral malt to support the hop bill, but it’s not really a subject of interest—just a quick rise of sweet oyster crackers before the even, grassy-citrusy finish.
Lost Nation Brewing
Did we mention how popular Mosaic hops are? Sweet grass and clover mingle with sprouting garlic, underripe peach and sweet bread dough in this 5.5% ABV brew from Vermont; a sip of the chicken stock-looking liquid reveals a fruit-focused flavor like tangerine peel, clementine oranges and grapefruity top notes. Peach pits act as a bridge and hints of mint as it warms. Really welcome earthy, soil-heavy finish brings us back to beer-land. A rustic finish unlike most of the tropical sweet modern IPAs. Like a tiki party in a log cabin.
Barrelhouse Brewing Co.
Onion rings and onion dip: just as welcome at a football party as they are in an IPA. Find the rings in the aroma of this IPA brewed in Paso Robles, California, which swirls with herbal top notes—oregano, mint, chive—and a gently toasted malt character that lends it the quality of breading. Those same malts act in the flavor as a starchy and sweet potato chip, enhancing the oniony, garlicky and chivey hop notes. With a dry, clean finish, we could drink this straightforward brew all day—especially now that it’s available in 12-ounce bottles.