The first new beers of May….
we have loads of new beers to tell you about in this e-mail. More Summer Seasonals are still rolling in and as usual we keep our eyes open for new and intriguing beers that are being released. We do have a couple limited ones that we will be taking reservation requests for, so let’s start with those first.
We have a couple limited beers from Dogfish Head.
First is Black & Blue, a Belgian-style Golden Ale which is made with pureed berries (blueberries and blackberries). It’s ABV is a hefty 10%, so more for sipping than quaffing, and it’s been rated an 83. We only got 1 case of Black & Blue and it’s in a 750ml bottle. B&B’s flavours are sweet malt with tart berries and a wine-like grape/fruit quality with notes of spices (clove) and funky Belgian yeast.
The next Dogfish brew is Sah’Tea, also in 750ml bottles and we only got 1 case of this one as well. It’s been rated an 89 and has an ABV of 9%. Sah’Tea is a modern take on a 9th century Finnish beer that is caramelized over white-hot river rocks and fermented with German Weizen yeast. It’s flavours are of black tea, cinnamon chai, ginger, juniper, pepper and the Weizen characteristics of banana and clove. Just another creative and unique brew from Dogfish, so those of you who like to take your taste buds on an adventure would fancy trying this one.
We also just brought in 4 new gluten-free beers, so those of you who either have to turn to these beers yourself or know someone who does, you’ll want to check these out.
First up is one from Epic Brewing of Utah, whose 22oz beers we’ve been carrying since they hit NJ. Their gluten-free take is called Glutenator, 6.9% ABV, and it’s made with sweet potatoes and molasses and is available in 22oz bottles. Now I like sweet potatoes so I was curious and threw one bottle in the office fridge so my beer apprentices and myself could give it a go later that night and see what we thought of it. It’s pretty damn good, not great, but drinks rather easy. It starts out with a moderate sweetness and you can taste the molasses (faintly) and the sweet potato, kind of like if you were having mashed sweet potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon and butter. It finishes rather crisp and dry, though the buttery sweet taste does linger a bit. Definitely a good alternative to ‘regular’ beer, if you must.
The next 3 gluten-free beers are from New Planet Brewing.
Their first is 3R Raspberry Ale. All New Planet beers have an ABV of 5%, are sorghum based and available in 4pk bottles and singles for those of you who want to try them out first. R3 does have that sorghum taste most gluten-free beers have, but it is balanced by the fruity tartness of the raspberries and has a hint of bready malts to it as well. Plus it’s the first fruit driven gluten-free beer I’ve come across thus far, so a good option for those of you who like fruit beers.
Their second brew is Off Grid Pale Ale. Off Grid has flavours of molasses, caramel and honey with a roasty bite and fairly assertive citrus and piney hops, making it one of the hoppier gluten-free brews available.
New Planet’s last beer is Tread Lightly Ale. It has the corn sweet flavours of a macro lager with an apple cider-like taste and a hint of orange peel.
All New Planet beers are $8.99/4pk and $2.49/single.
A beer we’ve had before that is released 1-2 times/year is Stone Brewing’s Cali-Belgique IPA in 22oz bottles. We only got a case of it, so if you’ve had it before and like it or if you want to try it then don’t dawdle. Cali-Belgique is rate a 90 and has an ABV of 6.9%. It’s flavours are biscuit/bready malt with notes of citrusy hops (grapefruit and lemon), orange, honey, banana and spicy Belgian yeast.
From the Oregon brewers at Rogue comes another of their Chatoe line of beers, this time it’s Single Malt Ale in 22oz bottles. SMA is a Blonde Ale that has been rated an 83 so far and has an ABV of 5.3%. It’s flavours are bready/biscuit malt with hints of apple, lemon, orange, peppery spices and citrusy hops. SMA has been compared to a German/Czech Pilsner, but more rounded and fuller mouthfeel.
Great Divide’s Oak Aged Chocolate Yeti Imperial Stout is in the house! It is available in 22oz bottles, though we only got 1 case of it and Stout fans will gobble this one up, so don’t hesitate about getting your hands on this one. OAC Yeti has been rated a 91 and it’s ABV is a hearty 9.5%. It’s flavours are a base of roasted malt with notes of chocolate (from sweet milk chocolate to bitter baking dark chocolate), coffee, caramel, vanilla and oak with mild hops for a bit of balance and a hint of cayenne pepper on the finish, which blends rather nicely with the chocolate profile.
We have brought in another beer from the CA brewery Lost Abbey. This time it’s Inferno, a Belgian-style Strong Pale Ale, in 750ml bottles. Inferno has a solid 90 rating and it’s ABV is 8.5%. It’s flavours are sweet malts, lemon/lemongrass, spices (white pepper, clove, cardamon) with a hint of banana and funky Belgian yeast. If you’re a fan of Belgian-style brews then you need to give Lost Abbey a try if you haven’t already.
Keeping with the Belgian-style theme, we’ll now move on to some of our Summer Seasonal offerings that just hit our shelves and both are local/regional beers.
First up is Philadelphia Brewing’s Fleur de Lehigh, a Pale Ale brewed with lemongrass and ginger. Fleur de Lehigh is available in 6pk bottles and singles. It has an 81 rating and it’s ABV is 4.5%, so it’s a good warm weather brew. It’s flavours are bready malts with grassy/hay notes, orange, floral and citrus hops and a finish of spicy yeast with a hint of ginger.
From Weyerbacher comes their Seasonal release, Blanche, a Witbier. Blanche has been rated an 81 and has an ABV of 5%, so not too heavy for Summer drinking. It’s available in 6pk bottles and singles. Blanche’s flavours are grassy/hay, lemon, orange, apple and pear and spicy yeast (clove) on the finish.
Some more Summer beers to tell you about are Boulder Brewing’s Kinda Blue, a blueberry Wheat Ale, in 6pk bottles and singles. We had this last year in 22oz bottles, but now it’s in 6pks. If you like a good fruit flavoured brew on a hot day or warm night, this is one to have handy. Since it’s Wheat based it’s not as heavy as some of the Ales nor does it overdo it with the blueberry, having just a soft kiss of it on the palate and an ABV of 5.5%.
New from Saranac is Blueberry Blonde Ale, in 6pk bottles and singles. Not many reviews for this Blonde Ale style that has an ABV of 5%. Saranac had a hit with their White IPA they released in early Spring (and which we just got more of and makes a good hoppy Summer beer as well), so maybe they’ve done it again with Blueberry Blonde? It’s flavours are pale malts and bready malts with a touch of blueberry and a hint of citrus.
Though not a Summer beer, Abita’s Purple Haze, a raspberry Wheat Ale, is now available in 12pk cans for those of you who like this beer and have a pool/patio or want to take some boating, you now have an option on packaging and not having to worry about heavy bottles and broken glass.
Shock Top has their new Summer beer now available, Lemon Shandy. It’s available in 6pk bottles and 12pk cans. They’ve done well revamping their line of beers the past couple years, first introducing Raspberry Wheat then the Pumpkin Wheat was quite a success this past Autumn and the Wheat IPA has provided a different style of a hoppy beer. Now they have their take on the Shandy style. Lemon Shandy is 4.2% so made for easy Summer drinking.
Back in stock for the Summer (fingers crossed) is local/regional brewery Victory’s Summer Love, a hoppy Blonde Ale, available in 6pk bottles. Last Summer was the inaugural year for Summer Love and it went over very well. I had this last year and rather enjoyed it as to be able to drink a beer made for hot/warm weather drinking but with hops kick was rather refreshing. Summer Love has an 87 rating and an ABV of 5.2%. It’s flavours are grassy grains with lemon and orange notes with a finish of floral and spicy hops. Just a solid very drinkable Summer beer and it should be available all Season long this time, but why wait?
New to NJ are Goose Island (of Illinois) beers. The first to grace our shelves is their Belgian-style Saison/Farmhouse beer, Sofie. Sofie is available in 4pk bottles and singles for those of you who want to give her a test drive first. Our distributor and the good people at Goose Island were kind enough to have a promo event (basically a tap takeover) at Carolina Blue and I decided to grab a couple friends (like we’re not there at least twice a month anyway, lol) and stop by so I could get to sample what they’re sending our way. There were 8 different Goose Island beers available and I did eventually get to try them all (which is why bringing friends helps, so you can each get a different beer and try a sip). I liked the Sofie very much, probably the one I thought was the best they were pouring that night. Sofie has an ABV of 6.2% and an impressive 92 rating with over 600 reviews. I discerned notes of white grape, orange, white pepper spice, yeasty Brett funkiness, some cereal grains and a bit of a sour bite. I’m a fan of Belgian sours, so I thought the sour note was a nice touch.
Finally, for you cider fans, we just brought in 3 new ciders from Samuel Adams. Yes, Sam Adams is now in the cider business and their line of ciders are called Angry Orchard. They are available in 6pk bottles and we have them in the coldbox windows if you fancy picking up a cold 6pk.
The first one is Traditional Dry Cider, which is fermented with Champagne yeast so it has that carbonation and bit of sour note on the finish, which is a bit dry though you still get some apple sweetness at the start. This is just a more balanced cider for those of you who enjoy the Farmhouse style of cider over a sweeter version.
The second one is Apple Ginger Cider and it does has a pronounced yet pleasant taste of ginger. We were given samples by our Sam Adams rep, so as it our job to do so, my beer apprentices and myself were joined by our owner Dan (a self professed cider enthusiast) and we taste tested these ciders ourselves. The Apple Ginger was my favourite of the lot, but I do enjoy ginger flavour. This cider would pair very well with sushi or spicy dishes. Grab a 6pk of this one and walk down to Wild Ginger for sushi dinner and you’ve got a party for your palate.
Their last of the lineup is Crisp Apple. This is the sweeter version, though not overly sweet. Probably just right, actually, and the one we all thought would be the big seller of the group. Just a smooth easy drinking cider with good flavour.