BRING OUT: Karl Strauss 24th Annivesary Flanders-Style Ale
The San Diego brewery released this oak-aged Flanders red in 2013, and at 7.5% ABV, it’s the least strong of Karl Strauss’ anniversary releases to date. Don’t wait much longer to open it; right now, cranberry and cherry aromas are still vibrant. On the tongue, those fruits mingle with a shy grain smoothness and lightly charred wood flavor. Vinous tannins dry out the finish, neatly wrapping up each complex sip. Pop this bottle now, but heads up: Our aged bottles opened with a Champagnelike overflow.
LAY DOWN: 2014 WICKED WEED DARK ARTS
As warm weather approaches, you might not be motivated to slake your thirst with a bourbon barrel-aged, Brett-spiked, 15%- ABV imperial stout: The good news is Dark Arts is a prime cellar candidate. Brett is unpredictable; expect that the alcohol spice will smooth out, and sweet toffee malts will morph into leather and tobacco flavors, countering strong vanilla and grape tones. The brewery plans to release Dark Arts annually, so stack the 2014 up against this year’s batch, and stash away any other bold, wild stouts you didn’t get around to drinking this winter.