- The Hop Concept | Dank & Sticky | West Coast DIPA, 8.5%
The third of five (and counting) brands within the Lost Abbey / Port family, The Hop Concept brews Double India Pale Ales above 8% and nothing but. A statement of purpose from THC, Dank & Sticky was the very first beer released upon their 2015 debut and always seems to return to the fridges by April every year. A herbal, resinous and heady concoction with firm bitterness – enjoy this one with your best buds.
- Aecht Schlenkerla | Helles Lagerbier | Rauchbier, 4.4%
We were all saddened to hear of the untimely passing of MF DOOM as the longest year 2020 slumped over into 2021. Word of his death on Halloween was kept private by his widow, friends and collaborators for a full two months thereafter – no mean feat in a day and age when news is instantaneously transmitted around the world. The masked rapper famously never showed his face in public – as was befitting of his entire cultural œuvre, so much was deliberately occluded or mysterious. His Special Herbs series of instrumental albums have a hypnotic quality to them, reshaping any setting in which they are unspooled. Long before we lost DOOM, the incomparable Upright Brewing in Portland created their own eponymous homage in the form of an unhopped tart beer (known taxonomically as a Gruit) aged up in gin barrels. Like the man and his music, this beer is difficult to categorize, confounding, and belies expectations – and is therefore all the better for it.
- Upright Brewing | Special Herbs | Gruitbier, 5.7%
A perennial summer favorite now in its fifth year, Passion Pool is a masterful melding of salted tart wheat ales with zingy acidic passionfruit. I distinctly recall seeing this (San Diego-brewed) can for sale in the beer vending-machine at the back of the Vesterbro location of Ramen to Bíiru, the Mikkeller-owned ramen concept in Copenhagen. As it had only debuted weeks before (this occurred in May 2018), clearly some planning and forethought had gone into giving it such a coveted placement. The machine only accepted coins, which was itself amusing in a city where absolutely anything could be purchased via chip-and-pin from an early date. We are looking forward to drinking this beer all season long!In eastern Franconia lies the town of Bamberg, with more breweries per capita than San Diego. Beyond that incredible density of beer is a style specific to the area, wherein malt is smoked before being added to the boil. As with any perishable food, the use of smoke acts as a preservative and adds wondrous savory campfire aromas to the final beer as well. The brewery most famous outside of the region for this technique is unquestionably Aecht Schlenkerla, whose Fraktur font and proud championing of Rauchbier (literally: smoke beer) make it a lodestone for fans of smoke. The core Helles is a pale low-ABV lager that (oddly enough) is made without the addition of Rauchmalz, yet still retains a whisper of smoke due to the house yeast-strain. Evidently repitching it over many generations has caused the yeast itself to pick up and impart those delectable phenolics!