Our judging panel scored this Seattle-brewed IPA a big ol’ 94 a while back, but that was when it was only available in bombers. The cloudy, burnt orange beer is definitely worth a revisit now that cans have hit the market. A multifaceted aroma shifts between notes of orange flesh, spruce, pine, sweet onion and papaya, each fragrance more pleasant than the last. Sticky, pithy bitterness punctuates tangerine and tree bark hop flavors, while the lush, velvety body caresses the tongue with pumpernickel malt sweetness.
Libertine Brewing Co.
As you’ll see in our July/August issue (which you can subscribe to using the link above, hint hint), sour ales with coffee are a trend we’re diggin right now. Coffeetine exemplifies why. Foeder-fermented with brettanomyces and whole Ethiopian beans, the golden wild ale intertwines oily, nutty coffee with the earthy funk of wild yeast so tightly it’s difficult to separate one from the other. Peach and pear skin run down the center of the tongue while mocha and cocoa powder skim the sides; the swallow delivers a flash of perfectly balanced lemony tartness. Not only does the brew coordinate its varied notes bafflingly well, but it totally nails the idea of coffee as a component rather than a central flavor. Weird? Sure. Delicious? Most definitely.
Great Notion Brewing
At this point we should probably just rename this list “The Great Notion Weekly Fun Hour.” The Portland, Oregon-based brewery’s already appeared here twice for a couple of its outrageous cloudy IPAs, Juice Box and Ripe. Doublestack, however, proves GN’s brewers also know their way around the dark stuff. From a tight tan head that looks like a layer of tiramisu comes a brunchy aroma: syrup-drizzled pigs-in-blankets; chocolate chip muffins; a little bacon smoke in the back. Both Vermont maple syrup and locally roasted coffee beans went into the stout while it was fermenting, and it shows: the maple character is outrageous, and though the sip is a tad sweet, the finish is all burnt beans. Exhales of coffee breath, caramel-infused brownies and crispy bacon edges make this thick, 8.5% stout the perfect end to an unbalanced breakfast.
The Discreet Charm of the Framboisie
“Charm” is the perfect word to describe this one—from its rosé champagne hue to its alluring bouquet of rose water, underripe raspberry and winelike minerality, the fruited wild ale is the picture of casual elegance. It began life as a base sour beer featuring barley, wheat and spelt, then was aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels containing fifteen pounds of fresh raspberries each. That process, combined with extended bottle-conditioning with Brettanomyces lambicus and Champagne yeast, results in a flavor that, like the nose, exhibits perfumy floral qualities and delicate seeds-and-skin raspberry tartness before vanilla-tinged oak rounds out the swallow.
Notch Session Pils
Notch Brewing Co.
“Session Pils” may seem a little redundant, but crushable, low-alcohol versions of popular styles are Notch’s whole bag. In fact, there isn’t a single beer in the Salem, Massachusetts-based brewery’s portfolio with an ABV above 4.5% ABV. That’s just fine with us—lesser inebriating power takes away nothing from this Czech-style lager, which jabs the nose with dead-on peppery and lightly floral Saaz hops alongside a hint of sulfur threaded through doughy, croissantlike malts. On the tongue, pastrylike sweetness spreads under earthy/herbal hops, trailing off at the finish into a gentle but noticeable bitterness.