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My recent great pours

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Hoppy beers and interesting farmhouse ales: That’s what I’ve been drinking these last few weeks.

It all started with a tallboy can of Fort George Tender Loving Empire NWPA, a new pale ale that pairs sweet malts with citrusy, fruity and piney hops. It was quite delicious and sparked my thirst for more hops. So, naturally, I moved on to something a little stronger: Speakeasy Vendetta. This American IPA pops on the tongue with white grapefruit, vivid floral notes and firm bitterness; its toasted bready malts offer just enough support to carry the profile.

My hop craving grew stronger.

Luckily, there was a bottle of New Glarus IIPA sitting on my desk. This is easily one of my favorite imperial IPAs—its only shortcoming is that it’s out for a limited time each year and distributed just in Wisconsin. Orange, grapefruit and pineapple wash back with sticky pine and toasted malts; hints of nectarine and mint emerge after each sip. Really, just stunning.

Time to move on to something else.

Figuring I’d taper off my hop consumption, I grabbed a bottle of Smuttynose Luna Moth, a saison that’s strongly hopped with the El Dorado variety. The spicy saison tingles the taste buds with black pepper, dried hay and lemon, while the hops weave bright, fruity apricot through the sip. Naturally, from there, I navigated back to tradition with a bottle of Twisted Pine Le Petit Saison, which washes back with black pepper and juicy lemon.

What’s the strangest saison I can find in the office?

The first, Cigar City Cucumber Saison, I’d had before. It’s still stunning and refreshing (read an in-depth description here), but I did note that this year’s batch offers a much stronger cucumber profile—specifically, a more pronounced green cucumber skin flavor.

After all of this, I finally arrived at something I’m still struggling to describe: Jester King Viking Metal, which is based off an old Swedish farmhouse ale style called Gotlandsdricka. Per the label, it’s a smoked farmhouse ale brewed with juniper and myrica gale, and then aged in gin barrels with wild yeast. That’s a lot to consider. It was incredibly fun to sip and by far the most complicated beer I’ve had this year. Lemon-lime notes splash down first, and then pick up black pepper and biting sourness as the beer washes back. Aged wood notes blend in mid-sip before the beer transitions into a near-blue cheese funkiness in the back. Rich smoke billows throughout the entire sip. A bone-dry finish cleans the palate as you consider what it was you just tasted.

I’m not sure where I’m going to go from here. Any suggestions?

 

Author
Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.

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