Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program.
In two weeks, I’ll write about sours. That doesn’t come naturally for me, so I’m giving myself some lead time. Not that sharing some great beers isn’t awesome!
These beers are delicious recent releases, some of which won’t be around for long. Oh, there’s even a sour:
Abigale marks the first canned Belgian-style ale from Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery. Their previous forays were only available on draft — some going all the way back to the very beginnings of Sixpoint in the 1990s. More recently, founder Shane Welch made a special journey to Belgium to immerse himself in old world brewing methods.
The result is an American hop-bomb of a Belgian — a dizzying mix of Belgian yeast, candi sugar and American hops. The slim cans favored by Sixpoint suggest that this might be a tame brew, but don’t be fooled. The aroma starts out with the tropical fruit tang of a Belgian, but it’s pumped up by a piney aroma from the huge load of hops. The flavor begins spicy — a trait of Belgian ales — then quickly bitters with an intense hoppyness. Despite the high ABV, this is a delightful strong ale.
Schlafly, out of St. Louis, is a midwestern favorite that is gaining a big fan base here in the DMV. Their Kölsch just took first place in the Washington Post’s Beer Madness 2015 competition. This IPA really stands out from the pack with it’s clean hop flavors.
The aroma is delightfully dank from the piney hops. The first thing that hit me was a sweet tea-like hop that is rounded out by the piney flavor in the finish. This addition to the long list of American-style IPAs is worth checking out.
Part of Stillwater’s Contemporary Works series, Mono is so named because of the singular emphasis on the Galaxy hop. They are quick to point out, however, that this is not a single-hop beer in the traditional sense as they’ve added Centennial and Sterling hops to accentuate the fruity flavors of the Galaxy hops.
I have to say, it works. The aroma is clean — dry cracker and citrus. Clean is a recurring theme with this delicious beer, as the mild hop bitterness combines with the crisp malt to transform into what I call a Genmaicha flavor — toasted rice and green tea. Mono is a refreshing beer that is perfect as the days get warmer!
Say that three times fast!
Another one of Stillwater’s Contemporary Works series, Surround refers to the enormousness of this beer. It’s like your taste buds are in the center of a movie theater watching Apollo 13. You can almost feel the flavors and even smell the smoke from the engines.
Well, the last part is true — the smokiness, though subtle, comes through in both the aroma and the flavor. Also, present in the aroma is the dark chocolate bite of toasted malt. The flavor is where all the channels really come together, though.
Where to start? It’s sweet and smoky and woody and chocolatey. As Stillwater says “you have to drop that bass every once in a while if you really wanna get down!” Warm up with this strong brew in these waning chilly nights or properly store a few bottles and see how the flavors transform over time.
The origins of the Berliner Weisbier are murky, not unlike the beer itself. What is known is that the beer is made with a wort that is not boiled, allowing bacteria to settle in and start the souring process. One of my first forays into the category that is broadly known as sour beers, this style is like a bike with training wheels. The aroma is lemony and lightly malty. I was a bit relieved to find that the flavor is pleasantly tart and that it sweetens in the finish. This beer is pretty uncomplicated. The low alcohol keeps it from overwhelming, allowing it to be a refreshing beer.
Tell me below what beers you’re drinking!
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.