Alvarado Street Brewery | Acapulco Cold | Cold IPA, 6.5%
The latest contender in the rapidly growing Cold IPA category comes to us courtesy of Alvarado Street, who are inveterate experts in the realms of hops, yeast and temperature control. With the crisp light body of a rice lager but the aromatic hopping of a new-wave IPA, this will appeal to those who prefer their hoppy beers on the lean and clean side. Noble hops in the kettle impart a touch of grassiness as well. Keep an eye out for more examples of this intriguing new sub-style!
Dupont | Avec Les Bons Vœux | Holiday Saison, 9.5%
Wallonia’s Brasserie Dupont makes the gold standard for classic farmhouse ales with their flagship Saison. Their peppery proprietary yeast-strain and copper fermentation vessels create something ineffable, a rustic beer for the onset of modernity. Once a year, however, they release their “With Best Wishes” (word-for-word, “With the good wishes”, but I’m translating idiomatically here), a beer ideal for gift-giving. Sort of a combination of a Saison and a Tripel, this holiday beer keeps the trappings of their base recipe but adds candi sugar to crank the ABV up another couple of notches. As with Trappist ales, this non-malt-derived sugar source is like steroids for their voracious yeasts, who respond by producing much higher levels of alcohol and carbonation. Enjoy with good friends!
Sierra Nevada | Bigfoot | American Barleywine, 9.6%
With the possible exception of Old Foghorn by Anchor Brewing, no beer defines the style of American Barleywine than Bigfoot. A brooding bruiser of a beer, Bigfoot combines piles of caramel malts with massive amounts of piney whole-cone hops from the Pacific Northwest. When consumed young, it is shockingly hoppy and bitter – suddenly one recognizes the inspiration for the imperial red IPAs of the 1990s and 2000s that seem to have largely gone extinct. Yet this beer is one of the few that can be aged for years and years, onwards of a decade. I once took part in a 10-year vertical of Bigfoot, wherein we tasted through every vintage going backwards from the current release to that of a full decade beforehand. It was fascinating to see how much the beer had softened and soothed under proper cellaring conditions. Grab a six-pack, drink a couple and lay the rest down to sleep – it may emerge a different sort of creature.