Berry the Hatchet
At just under two years old, Charlotte’s Sycamore Brewing feels like it’s been around much longer. The taproom is packed on Friday nights, with a huge back patio full of regulars from its South End neighborhood. One of our editors was in town last weekend and had the chance to try this new bourbon barrel-aged wild raspberry stout, the first in the brewery’s new Terroir Series. Tart raspberries ricochet off the base stout’s cocoa and lush milk chocolate notes, while the bourbon barrel’s vanilla flavors play a subtle supporting role. We’ll definitely keep our eye out for more in this series.
Tooth and Claw
Off Color Brewing
Brewed for Chicago’s Field Museum, the home of a rather famous T-Rex skeleton named Sue, this “Chicago-style pilsner” (it’s dry-hopped) hits the glass in dandelion yellow brilliance. Take a whiff; a quick hit of chlorophyll in the aroma melts into profound baked breadlike malts accented by mild lemon zest. Just ever so slightly more bitter than you’d expect from a pilsner, the beer finishes with a fresh, doughy character that spotlights its incredible cohesiveness and balance.
Off Color Brewing, 3 Floyds Brewing Co., Wiseacre Brewing Co.
Yes, that’s a piece of printer paper wrapped around the bottle in the picture above—this brew was sent to us before the real labels were manufactured. The beer inside, however, was the final product: an alfalfa- and alfalfa honey-spiked take on 3 Floyds’ popular pale ale, Alpha King. An earthy, grassy aroma recalls hay rides through the pumpkin patch, while honeyed sweetness underlies the hops. The alfalfa hay and alfalfa honey additions read rustic, but the finish is clean and pepped up with fresh, leafy hops. Lots to pick apart, but so easy drinking. Plus, it tastes like it’s good for you—like a smoothie with flax.
Oodles of Citra hops lend this IPA from the brewing offshoot of the now-closed Peg’s Cantina gentle haze and an offbeat aroma that combines honeydew rind, cilantro, sweet chive and moist lawn clippings. Melon transitions to green grass bitterness in the flavor, finishing with a mild tropical sweetness and a toasted malt bite at the finish. Faint notes of fresh, bright celery rise in the afterglow.