One thing craft brewers are getting better and better at here in the US is brewing the traditional Belgian ales that pioneered the beer world so long ago. A great example of this maturation is found in Belgian Farmhouse Saison from Aspen Brewing in Aspen, Colorado. This straw colored beer brings some hops to the table, but the farmhouse yeast and effervescent mouthfeel are the real stars of the show. Judges at the World Beer Cup agreed this year, as it topped almost 100 other entries to win the Gold in the French and Belgian-Style Saison Category. In celebration of the award, a special run of the beer was recently released.
When you're tired of trying to chase down the next big thing in the craft beer world, it can be refreshing sometimes to turn to an old standby. Flower Power from Ithaca Brewing in New York is a perfect example of this, and helped pioneer the path for many IPAs that have followed. With a tropical jungle of a nose and a hopped up taste thanks to five different dry-hopping sessions, this bad boy not only is an old stand-by, but also stacks up incredibly well to the avalanche of IPAs that have been trying to keep up over the past decade plus.
With so many new breweries flooding the craft beer market, it's difficult to keep up and decipher what is actually worth trying. Side Project in St. Louis is still young, but with beers like Oude Fermier, they are already ahead of the pack. Oude Fermeir started as a Saison, but was barrel fermented in Chardonnay barrels and aged for 12 months while mingling with wild Missouri yeast before bottling. The result is a fantastic beer, with lemon, yeast and some mild tartness. And being housed in such a beautiful bottle makes it even more attractive.
What is old is new again in craft brewing circles, as brewers dig up recipes from brewing's storied past. One of the latest — and greatest — in this line is Westbrook Gose, a German-style wheat beer brewed with coriander and sea salt. The result is pure summer refreshment in a can as the Gose is both sour and a bit salty, providing a tart sipper that clocks in at just 4% ABV. Leave to the brewers at Westbrook in South Carolina to bring a historic German recipe back from the dead.
What most people know about Trappist Ale is that it is brewed by monks in Europe. The nine monasteries that brew the delicious beer are were all in Europe until monks at St. Joseph's Abbey in Massachusets threw their hat in the ring with Spencer Trappist Ale. What they came up with for America's first Trappist beer is a 6.5% Belgian style pale ale with some fruity, yeasty characteristics. And despite being new to brewing such a historically revered beer style, the monks have managed to make something that tastes like it could come straight from one of the well established European monasteries.