The Veil Brewing Co.
Apart from being just a damn fine beer, this double IPA comes in some of the sexiest packaging we’ve ever seen. Just look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark. And the beer inside lives up to its finery. A 50/50 blend of Citra and Galaxy hops imparts an aroma stuffed with garlic—some diced, some fried—as well as sprinkles of green onion and a fruit-sweet base of pineapple and peach. Raising the glass to your lips is like settling into endless breadsticks at the Olive Garden: Fried and fresh garlic on a crunchy baguette. Juicy grapefruit emerges midpalate, pineapple juice and grass tickle the tongue at the swallow, and the finish is surprisingly mild, with bitterness soft and smooth as whipped cream. Vroom, vroom.
Allagash Brewing Co.
A few weeks back, we proclaimed that Steel String Brewery’s Brett Mon was the best brettanomyces-fermented IPA we’d ever had. Now it’s going to have to share the pedestal. Allagash’s Brett IPA beckons the tongue with warm flavors of sweet pineapple, meringue, orange blossom and lychee followed by the slightest hint of barnyard funkiness. Crispy straw and baguette crust abut hints of melon and grass from the hops; the finish is mostly dry and just a little peppery, with moderate, easygoing bitterness. Available for the first time this year in 12-ounce bottles, it’s a beer with outstanding complexity and finesse.
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Anyone IPA drinker who’s ever been to a Phish concert knows that there’s a lot of overlap between the aromas of hops and pot. That’s because the two plants—both members of the family Cannabaceae—produce similar aroma molecules, known as terpenes or terpenoid compounds. To capitalize on this close connection (and their own association with weed), Lagunitas partnered with Sonoma County cannabis concentrate company AbsoluteXtracts to create Supercritical, an IPA spiked with terpenes from some of California’s stickiest icky. There’s no mistaking that fact; each sip of the brew is laced with notes of pineapple rind and ultradank weed as well as mown grass, blueberry skins, pine needles and flashes of spruce and Juicy Fruit gum. Luckily for those with upcoming drug tests, the beers contains zero THC, but those in need of a high can also check out the hop-flavored vape concentrates the two companies also created; those come fully loaded with the substance.
Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers
Jack’s. Abby. Knows. Lagers! Much like a summer in San Francisco, the fermentation temperature at the Massachusetts-based brewery barely ever breaks 60 degrees, and that laser focus is part of what makes this Oktoberfest—the name of which honors Bob, the legendary plumber who nearly single-handedly set up Jack’s Abby’s original Morton Street location—as clean and characterful as anything from Deutschland. Rich caramel, toffee and a hint of toasted pecan dance in the nose alongside an alluring yeasty spiciness that reminds of baked cinnamon. Sips lead with dark bread crust and very subtle anise, with caramel and apple cider rolling across the tongue a few beats later. While the finish does lean a little sweet, woody tree bark bitterness plays its part in the balancing act, and a final, gentle nudge of alcohol warmth lets you know what you’re dealing with. Hard for an Oktoberfest to get much better than this.
Abnormal Beer Co.
Okay, confession time. We first tasted this double IPA on August 27—five days after it was canned—and HATED it. The hop flavor was like the inside of a lawnmower bag: green, rough, mulchy. But apparently all the beer needed was a little time to mellow; a second visit a full month after canning revealed a much more balanced, nuanced flavor. Lawn clippings were still there, sure, but they’d subsided enough to allow scallions, chives, grapefruit pulp and jalapeño rind to poke through. Sweet honeydew melon and a malt character like the squishy white middle of baguette rose in the finish for a full but composed sip. We’ve been told by some brewers that they usually wait a week or two before releasing their NEIPAs to the public; our experience with Turbidity indicates this should be filed under “best practices.”