Great beer recently converged on the Craft Brewers Conference in Chicago for seminars, beer dinners and the World Beer Cup and we should raise a toast to two California breweries, Firestone Walker and Ballast Point for their awards of best mid-sized and small sized breweries. The CBC and other festivals and industry events open my eyes to beer from around the craft brewing country and I thought it would be a good time to talk about some other award winning breweries from outside of California and my recommendations for what to try. I have also included each breweries description of the beer. You won’t see these on the store shelves but if you find yourself within a 50-mile radius of these breweries, you had better stop because the flowery words used to describe these beers are no exaggeration.
New Glarus – The best maker of fruit beers in the country bar none. Oh and the rest of their beers aren’t 1/2 bad either. Based in Wisconsin, Peter Carey doesn’t distribute far but his reputation is known widely.
Wisconsin Belgian Red Over a pound of Door County Cherries in every bottle makes this beer uniquely “Wisconsin.” So unique, in fact, that we applied for a patent.
Totally Naked Pure and crisp, this is a beer with nothing to hide. Kick back, relax and enjoy the simple unadorned flavor.
Three Floyds – Just concluded their annual Dark Lord Day. Similar to the Black Tuesday but multiplied by 10 and add in tailgating and guest taps.
Gumballhead American Wheat Ale, Gumballhead is named in honor of the underground comic book cat created by Rob Syers. This beer helped redefine American Wheat Beers. Brewed with Amarillo Hops and a generous portion of American red wheat, Gumballhead has a complex hop aroma with notes of grapefruit, lemon zest, marmalade and peach. These flavors combined with low bitterness make Gumballhead a refreshing American Wheat Beer that doesn’t suck.
Alpha King 3 Floyd’s flagship beer, Alpha King is a big American pale ale that pours a deep amber with a creamy head. This ale is brewed with Centennial, Cascade, and Warrior hops giving it an intense citrus aroma and a crisp hoppy finish.
Oakshire – From Duck country in Oregon, comes Oakshire and their line-up of beers. They have grown leaps and bounds since opening and are now in the process of creating an urban farm to go with their brewery.
Overcast Espresso Stout Gray skies are a regular part of life in Western Oregon. Overcast Espresso Stout is the dark and silky stout we crave while giving us the shot of organic espresso we need.
O’Dark:30 A Cascadian dark ale, Dawn has not arrived, but we are awake – cooling one small batch of delicious beer, or starting the next. O’Dark:30 is a beguiling combination of dark malt and NW hops, a tribute to the brewers of our region
Walking Man – Recently won a RateBeer honor of highest-ranking pub in the Northwest at no. 15 on the RateBeer list of the world’s best brewpubs. They also have one of the simplest and coolest logos around. Their beers can be found on tap in Portland and Seattle at finer beer and dining establishments
Homo Erectus An Imperial IPA brewed in celebration of being erect for two million years. 2005 North American Beer Awards Silver Medal.
Knuckle Dragger Strong Pale Ale chock full of Simcoe and Columbus hops with a solid malt backbone.
Cigar City – The Florida equivalent to The Bruery. Alot of smoking terminology here. And quite a following for their Humidor series of cedar aged beers.
Jai Alai IPA Humidor Series is a rotating offering of Cigar City Brewing beer aged on cedar. Cedar has a more subtle effect on beer than more traditional woods like oak. But, we think that once you taste it you’ll agree that cedar deserves a place alongside oak in the brewer’s wood-aging toolbox. Mix the wood with the IPA and you get a unique twist not seen elsewhere.
Marshall Zhukov’s Russian Imperial Stout is dedicated to Gregory Zhukov. Arguably one of World War II’s finest generals and a man bold enough to appreciate the rich, complex flavors of a beer brewed to fortify a body through the Russian winter. Opaque black in color, the aroma has notes of espresso, chocolate, dark sweet toffee with hints of black strap molasses. The flavor starts with an unsweetened chocolate character and supporting notes of herbal dryness from English hop varietals. It then moves into dark toffee sweetness and closes with a slap of roasty espresso. Zhukov’s Imperial Stout pairs well with Mushroom Solyanka, dark chocolate, cherries and ground wars in Russia.
Captain Lawrence – Brooklyn Brewery is the flagship of New York but Captain Lawrence is bringing out some interesting brews and special releases too.
Sun Block This beer was created as a summer thirst quencher, because we all know how hot and humid it can get in New York during the summer. We brewed this beer using both coriander and orange peel in the boil to increase both the aroma and flavor of this beer. Make sure you don’t get burned this summer, drink your Sun Block.
Golden Delicious There’s nothing-quite likes Mom’s apple pie…But I am willing to bet this beer is pretty darn close. An American Tripel, dry-hoped with Amarillo hops and aged in Apple Brandy barrels from one of this country’s oldest distilleries. The tropical aroma of the hops and the delicate apple aroma from the barrels are a perfect match. Straight from the Captain’s cellar to yours, we hope you enjoy.
Surly – I have been wanting to try surly beer ever since I missed them at the Great American Beer Festival. Their booth was probably obscured by legions of fans. They utilize both cans and bottles and both hold some aggressive beer.
Coffee Bender refreshes like an iced-coffee, is aromatic as a bag of whole beans as satisfies like your favorite beer. The Surly brew team has developed a cold extraction process that results in intense coffee aromatics and flavor bringing together two of our favorite beverages. Your only dilemma will be whether to finish your day or start it with a Coffee Bender.
Furious A tempest on the tongue, or a moment of pure hop bliss? Brewed with a dazzling blend of American hops and Scottish malt, this crimson-hued ale delivers waves of citrus, pine and caramel-toffee. For those who favor flavor, Furious has the hop-fire your taste buds have been screeching for.
The beer of the week is Oskar Blues Gubna. A Double IPA in a red lettered can from Lyons Colorado.
At 10% abv this is no lightweight but it is also extremely drinkable. After the great beers at Naja’s IPA festival, I expected this beer to pale (pun intended) in comparison. But this had great complexity without running over my taste buds. Maybe due to being dry hopped after fermentation to bring out more citrus notes. You can get this at Vendome Toluca Lake and other fine beer establishments.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.