This is turning out to be a pretty crazy season for beer: The winter releases are still on the shelves, spring bottles are already popping up, and the year-rounds are continuing to fill the gaps. Plus, I can’t remember another time when more one-off releases were around. It’s hard to keep up, but here’s what I’ve been tipping back recently.
Most old timers in the craft business told me I’d eventually move away from palate wrecking IPAs. Sure, I now have a much, much wider spectrum of styles I enjoy but I still love big, hoppy beers. Drake’s Hopocalypse Double IPA is a huge one (9.3% ABV, 100+ IBUs) that lives up to its name: Bright citrus and dank pine notes with a caramel-sweetened, toasted malt backbone and immense bitter, boozy bite. Likewise, Laughing Dog Sneaky Pete (10% ABV, 100+ IBUs) assaults the senses with big citrusy, resinous hops and smooth warming alcohol.
To dial it back a bit, I’ve popped open a few new American pale ales. Boston Beer’s recreation of New Albion Ale is a pretty amazing look back at how American pales were predominantly floral, earthy and toffee-sweet in the 1980s—not unlike their English counterparts. Alaskan Freeride APA is another great offering, with its quaffable 5.3% ABV and balanced swallow of citrusy, tropical hop notes with bready malts—it’s the brewery’s new year-rounder and hits shelves in March.
Still freezing in the Midwest? Check out the very warming Mother’s Imperial Three Blind Mice, a 9.6% imperial porter: Caramel, chocolate, peppery spice, smooth booze and dark fruit, wrapped in a smooth swallow. If you’ve got a second bottle, let this one develop in the cellar.
I love funky beers probably as much as big IPAs, so The Commons Maybelle (with its huge Brettanomyces notes and nice acidic bite) is one of my recent favorites. I’ve also loved the highly sessionable Stillwater Premium: Not only is this post-Prohibition-style ale refreshing, it reminds us that wild yeast is just as lovely as an accompaniment as it is a showstopper.
Got any recommendations? Tell me what you’ve been drinking in the comments.