Nothing like an extended holiday weekend to help make sure I tried more new beers than I could keep track of. Despite the foggy memory that comes with sippin’ as many delicious craft brews as I have enjoyed over the week, these babies stood out as must tries:
Brown Shugga’ by Lagunitas Brewing Company: Two words: GIGGITY GIGGITY. Brown Shugga’ has been on a short list of beers that I had heard and read a lot about, but hadn’t had the opportunity to try one for myself yet. I eagerly awaited this seasonal release last fall, only to miss out after the expanding popularity of Lagunitas Brewery required their fermenting tanks be put to use with easier/quicker to brew batches to keep up with the growing demand. At least that’s what I remember from the hilariously clever mia culpa that was printed on the ass side of the “Lagunitas Sucks” Holiday Ale six packs they put out last year as a Brown Shugga holdover (a great ale in itself, by the way). 2+ years of waiting was worth it; as is a trip to the store immediately for any thirsty soul who has yet to try this beer. I’ve seen six packs on the shelves of Seattle area stores as recently as yesterday, so there are still some in rotation if you can beat me to stocking up again. Brown Shugga’ is a dangerously smooth 9.9% beer. Any fan of fall seaosonal ales, winter ales, barley wines, or well … brown sugar… are sure to enjoy this. Get some.
Sweet Heat by Burnside Brewing Co. (Oregon): It wouldn’t be right if at least one Northwest beer wasn’t on the list. Make no mistake though, this one didn’t make the cut just to fulfill a quota. Sweet Heat is wheat beer flavored with apricots, and then “dry hopped” with peppers added during the fermentation process. I am typically not a fan of many fruit beers – but the apricot in this is just right; it is not overwhelmingly sweet or fruit heavy at all. I’m a sucker for all things spicy and will try any beer with peppers in it – though only a couple have crossed my palate and left me thinking “NAILED IT!”… Add this one to that list! I can’t say I’ve noticed if Burnside Brewing is distributed to the Seattle area at all, but I can’t wait to try more of their beers on my next Portland trip. Given the lack of solid pepper beers on the market (especially any that come bottled!), I will have to stock up on bombers of this winner!
Autumn Maple by The Bruery: I found myself in several staring matches with bottles of Autumn Maple at my local Whole Foods the last few week, only to be turned away by the sticker price. I finally gave it a shot after finding it on tap last week – and since then I’ve already picked up a bottle! Take the pumpkin ale spices you’re used to, add them to a belgian strong ale, mix in some maple syrup – and you’ve got a delicious 1 beer buzz. Seriously, a very smooth 10% ABV – Autumn Maple had me feeling it halfway through my first glass and then feeling little else after glass 2.
75 Minute IPA by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery: Depending on the day you ask, I’ll either tell you my go-to beer of choice is Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, Boundary Bay’s IPA, or Double Mountain’s India Red Ale. I have an impossible time narrowing it down any further than that. I’m a self proclaimed Dogfish fanboy – and anything they’ve put out in the IPA family has been a winner (60, 90, and 120 minute IPAs, Squall, Aprihop, and Burton Baton are all must tries – and all with very different flavor profiles). I had heard the myth there was such a thing as the 75 minute IPA, but it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago it found its way to shelves in Seattle. A blend of the 60 and 90 minute IPAs? And it’s dry hopped and bottle conditioned with maple syrup? Hell yes I’ll try some of that! Unfortunately you’re not likely to find this one on shelves anywhere, as with most limited releases from Dogfish this baby came and went fast. Fortunately for me I have 2 more bottles. I suppose a follow up post with a side-by-side comparison of 60, 75, 90, and 120 Minute IPAs is in order – DARN! 😉
And now, some beer porn: