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.
The newest contender in the race for a great, sessionable pale ale comes from the folks at Monocacy Brewing in Frederick, Maryland and it's named H.L. Rex Pale Ale. This 3.7% brew is a perfect fit on a hot summer day, allowing plenty of repeated samples without the potential of a bad crash. What separates it from the growing number of session beers on the market is not only a great hop experience in aroma and taste, but also the attentive design that marks each bottle. Another worthy adversary as the dog days of summer roll on.