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Your Beermonger: Brews for the Changing Season

by Nick Anderson October 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

Don’t let the title fool you, I’m basically passing along some tasting notes this week, but there is a bit of a theme in that all of these have been working for me as we veer between unseasonably warm and full-on winter. The good news is there are a lot of great new options out there, along with some returning seasonal favorites. Here are some standouts:

Abita Bourbon St. Imperial Stout: I had only read about this limited release from Abita over the past few weeks, and was under the impression it was going to be draft-only until their distributor offered me some bottles last week. This one clocks in at 10 percent ABV, with eight weeks spent in now-unnamed Bourbon barrels (rhymes with “Scrappy Dan Tinkle”). Unexpectedly bold chocolate flavors rule the day here, with the barrel influence increasing as you work your way through the bottle. A decadent, delicious Imperial Stout that I’d put up against many of the hard-to-get examples of the style. Word’s getting out, so it won’t last long — try it if you get the chance.

Brooklyn Brewing Blast! IPA: I know, I know — another new IPA. But the lengthy list of hops used in Brooklyn Blast! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name) intrigued me, as did Brooklyn’s statements about Blast! being heavily influenced by English Ales. Believe the press, in this case; Blast! is a big beer at 8.4 percent ABV, but is all about a wonderful balance between its sweet malts and the tea-like aromas and flavors from its hops. A big IPA that is interesting without being overwrought.

Hardywood Forbidden: Here’s a bit of an odd bird. Hardywood bottled this 6.5 percent ABV Belgian-style Wit made with dragonfruit in honor of “Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing”, an exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Rather than go for 22-ounce bombers or the 750mL bottles their special releases usually come in, Hardywood bottled Forbidden to be sold as individual 12-ounce beers. The format is neat; it’s just the right amount of the beer (you can always pop another if you want), and the small size means you can try one out without dropping a lot of money. As for the beer itself, it’s refreshing and lightly spicy as a Wit should be, with the dragonfruit adding floral aromas, the slightest bit of citrus sweetness, and a gorgeous pink/reddish color.

Founders Breakfast Stout: The cold isn’t allowed to arrive until Breakfast Stout does. In my personal Pantheon of American beers, Founders works oatmeal and two kinds of chocolate along with Kona and Sumatra coffees into this magical beverage. If you haven’t, you really should; love for Breakfast Stout transcends aversions to strong, dark, coffee- and/or chocolate-infused beers. A benchmark.

If you feel like jumping into winter a little early, you can find Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome, Troeg’s Mad Elf, and Schlafly Christmas Ale on retailer shelves in the area right now. All are delicious and will get you through the holiday season in one piece (maybe). Until next time!

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money-saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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