There's nothing wrong with tipping back a few hard ciders during the fall season, but if you'd rather stick with beer, Big Leaf Maple from Anchor Brewing is as festive as it gets. Inspired by a tree native to California, Big Leaf Maple is a balanced red ale brewed using two caramel malts, pale malts, three additions of Nelson Sauvin hops, and a hint of maple syrup. Available while the leaves are changing, but typically gone by the time they hit the ground.
It's hard to believe that Dogfish Head Brewing is celebrating 20 years of brewing, but the time has come and the celebration begins with Higher Math. The anniversary beer is like a liquid birthday cake, brewed with cocoa nibs and sour cherry juice on top of the golden ale base. It's a fitting party favor from the craft trailblazer, and is sure to get you in a celebratory mood quickly at 17% ABV.
You might be surprised to hear an IPA is the latest release from St. James's Gate and Guinness, but you shouldn't be. Guinness Nitro IPA shouldn't shock you if you recall that Guinness is already one of the best known beer brands on the planet, and just happened to revolutionize the industry with their plastic nitrogen widgets in the 1980s. Nitro IPA is brewed with Irish Malt in Dublin, using the same yeast strains common through the rest of the family and five hop varieties, none of which are overly bitter but instead provide a smooth and balanced mouthfeel and refreshing taste.
Even if you're burned out on pumpkin beers, Rumpkin from Avery Brewing is worth your time and attention. Avery took a gigantic pumpkin ale, brewed with roasted pumpkins from a farm in nearby Boulder, Colorado, and then added spiced nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. They then aged it in fresh rum barrels to add an incredibly unique, sweet, and oaky flavor that you won't find in any run of the mill pumpkin beers. It also clocks in at 15-18% ABV, making it great for sharing or for your own personal fall festival.
Plenty of winners have come out of the Brooklyn Quarterly Experiment batches at Brooklyn Brewery, but their Intensified Coffee Porter might be the best one yet. Using coffee beans harvested in El Salvador that were then roasted by the good folks at Blue Bottle Coffee, Brooklyn created a system that worked as a giant French press to produce loads of cold brew coffee porter. As if that isn't enough to make your mouth water, the beer was also aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, adding a sweet, boozy finish that tips the scales at 11.8%.
Although it might not be part of a balanced breakfast, Hefe Wheaties is sure to bring to mind the classic cereal. Brewed by Fulton Beer out of Minneapolis, this isn't some knockoff, but is a true partnership between the brewers and General Mills. The American wheat beer will be available in four-pack, 16oz cans for a limited time in the Twin Cities, and could see a wider release if enough people drink their Wheaties.
Before you probably cared about craft beer, Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Indiana broke the mold with Alpha Kong. The Belgian style sextuple was first released 10 years ago, and this beast of a beer was not only gigantic and delicious, but it was almost as hard to get your hands on as King Kong himself. Back from the dead in 22oz bottles, the new release is your opportunity to get a taste of a craft beer pioneer.
Every year the most anticipated beer release gets a little better, and this year is no exception with the release of Rare Bourbon County Stout. The entire Bourbon County line is being upgraded to these new, great looking bottles, but only Rare was aged in barrels from Heaven Hill Distilleries that held bourbon for more than 30 years. Those barrels were filled with Bourbon County Stout and aged for 2 additional years before being bottled. As fantastic as the whole line of Bourbon County beers are, this one is a true standout worth hunting down.
It's cause for celebration when a brewery has been around as long as Great Divide has. And Great Divide 21st Anniversary Ale is not only an attempt to cheer on the brewery that helped lay the groundwork for many others in Colorado and beyond, but it's also the first sour ale they've ever bottled. It kicks off what should be a robust sour program and was aged for 9 months in wine barrels before bottling. The result is a tart, but approachable sour from a brewery that many continue to try and emulate.
The dog days of summer call for plenty of beer drinking, and if you're smart, you'll reach for a session IPA rather than something that will weigh you down or knock you out. Citra Sunshine Slacker is a one of the latest entrants into the increasingly crowded field of low ABV IPAs, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve to help it stand out. A collaboration with 7venth Sun Brewing, Citra Slacker keeps things light and easy at 4.5%, while providing loads of taste thanks in part to one of the most aromatic hops around, Citra. Grab a 4-pack of pints and sip the suffocating temperatures away.
It's not as easy to enjoy a rich coffee stout during the warm summer months. Calm Before The Storm from Ballast Point Brewing is a great solution for beer and coffee lovers alike, and is a perfect fit this summer. It's a golden cream ale infused with cold brewed Caffé Calabria coffee and a hint of vanilla. A fantastic warm weather alternative to the equally delicious Victory At Sea Porter that is a standout in the Ballast Point line.
What was once reserved for private tastings and brewery tours is finally being bottled and is available for everyone. Brooklyn Brewery Wild Streak is a funky creation that begins as a Belgian-inspired golden ale. It is then aged in second-use bourbon barrels for months, which balances all the flavors. It's then bottled flat and re-fermented using priming sugar, Champagne yeast, and wild yeasts. It gains carbonation as the yeasts and sugars mingle, and ends up as a refreshing, earthy and funky beer that tastes great now, but will also benefit from aging.
Just in time for Independence Day comes Double Liberty from Anchor Brewing. The original Liberty Ale was introduced 40 years ago, so it's a fitting time for a new, hopped up version of a classic. Using the same whole cone Cascade hops that helped make the original famous, Double Liberty is twice as nice, with double the hops and the IBUs. The amped up version clocks in at 8.2% ABV, and despite the extra everything, is incredibly smooth and palatable.
The latest beer in the Stochasticity Project from Stone Brewing might have a modern appearance, but it's actually a tribute to a centuries-old tradition of combining the old with the new. HiFi + LoFi Mixtape combines new beer with aged stock ales to come up with a mix that is an experiment worth trying. It's a blend of a strong ale that was aged for three months in large wooden fermentation vessels with a fresh version of the exact same recipe, but with a lower amount of alcohol. The latest liquid harmony from Stone is bottled in 22 oz. bombers at 8.8% ABV.
Since it's a style that translates incredibly well during warm weather months, the Gose is a hot commodity right now. Jammer from Sixpoint Brewing is the first Gose in their well established line, and it's one of the better new ones we've tried. Featuring hand-harvested sea salt from Netarts Bay, Oregon Jammer is salty, tart, and as refreshing a a wave in the face at high tide. Available in cans for the first time and perfect to sidle up to during your next trip to the beach.
A cold, refreshing Witbier is tough to beat on a hot summer day, unless of course you're tipping back a Lilikoi Kepolo from Avery Brewing. Lilikoi is a Witbier, but has loads of passionfruit added to the brew, giving it a unique aroma and flavor. The passionfruit takes it from a simple refresher to a special treat, with subtle tartness and the amazing ability to transport you to a tropical place instantaneously.
Just because a beer is low-calorie doesn't mean it has to be fizzy and flavorless. Skinny Dip from New Belgium Brewing is a prime example, back after a hiatus of a few years with a sharp new label. The tribute to the summer months comes in the form of this blonde ale, brewed with Cascade hops and peaches to give it a light, crisp kick. It's a light, easy, poolside companion to help cool things down this summer.
In honor of what would have been legendary Padre Tony Gwynn's 55th birthday, AleSmith Brewing released this very special Hall Of Fame Imperial Pale Ale. Gwynn collaborated with the brewery before his death on the .394 Pale Ale, and this is an imperial version of that beer. It checks in at 9% ABV, and is decorated with real gold and Gwynn's replica signature from his Hall of Fame induction in 2007. And sales from all bottles go toward building the Tony Gwynn Museum, located inside AleSmith's new facility opening this summer. A great tribute to one of baseball's best from one of the best breweries around.
They've only been around since late 2012, but Wicked Weed Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina has already placed itself among the best sour beer producers in the US thanks to releases like Golden Angel. The latest American sour is blended with one pound per gallon of apricots and aged in red wine barrels for 8 months. Another pound and a half per gallon of apricots are then added and blended for two more months in stainless steel. Released this weekend at their Funkatorium — and certain to sell out really quickly — it's dry, tart, and brimming with fruity, funky goodness.