Best new craft beers to drink this month
Clouds are soft and fluffy, and so is the latest IPA from Stillwater Artisanal—or, at least, that’s what Brian Strumke set out to produce. To achieve his goal, the Brooklyn-based “gypsy brewer” added oats and lactose milk sugar to The Cloud’s otherwise lean construction, resulting in a slightly sweet beer with a silky mouthfeel. Of course, the use of such adjuncts in New England-style IPAs is quite trendy these days, which is another reason for its name: Strumke is pulling inspiration from “the cloud” of brewing groupthink. His twist on the style, however, was to massively dry-hop the beer with the next-generation German varietals Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavaria. It was an unconventional choice, and one that pays off in wonderfully floral and fruity aromatics. In other words, you’ll want to download this one over and over again.
While sour beers are often treated as a hot new trend these days, it’s worth remembering that the Berliner Weisse is some 400 years old. Sure, the tart wheat ale’s popularity has ebbed and flowed over the centuries, but there’s a reason why it has persevered: Few things taste as refreshing on a hot summer day. Boulevard Brewing Company seems to know this. The Kansas City brewery’s new rendition of the German classic is fairly straightforward, aside from a few small twists. One is the use of Australia’s fruity Topaz hops. The other is the late addition of orange, lemon and lime peel to punch up the bright, citrus notes of the lactic acidity. Both are thoughtful complements to a time-tested, effervescent style that Napoleon’s troops once praised as “the champagne of the North.”
Port City Brewing is best known for its award-winning Optimal Wit and head brewer Jonathan Reeves’s mastery of lagers. Nevertheless, the Alexandria brewery has a patented dry-hopping apparatus called the Hopzooka, and Reeves isn’t afraid to use it. To wit (no pun intended), Port City Brewing recently unveiled Integral IPA, a light-bodied and golden-hued showcase of humulus lupulus. Somewhere between a West Coast and East Coast IPA, the 7.0% beer is defined by tropical aromatics and a subtly fruity taste—the result of “hop-bursting” the product with four American varietals: Azacca, Mosaic, Pekko and Simcoe. Owner Bill Butcher is calling it a “modern American IPA,” and it’s hard to argue with that.
No brewing culture is as passionate about tradition as Germany’s, and few beer styles are as iconically German as an Oktoberfest lager. So, credit Sierra Nevada for going straight to the source when it comes time to brew a Märzen. Each year, the bi-costal beer company collaborates with a different German brewery to explore the intricacies of the malt-forward style. In 2017, it has teamed up with Brauhaus Miltenberger, a Bavarian establishment that is 363 years old. The deep golden lager is big on malt flavor but complemented by delicately spicy German noble hops. Sweet yet crisp, rich but crushable, this is a thirst-quenching beverage.
Over the past year or so, a budding bromance has developed between 3 Stars Brewing Company and Miami’s J. Wakefield Brewing. The breweries have appeared at each other’s festivals and churned out a few collaborations, and if the DC venue’s new summer seasonal is any indication, 3 Stars has learned a thing or two along the way. Like a number of beers around the country, Trouble in Paradise bears the influence of J. Wakefield’s innovative (but hard to pull off) “Florida Weisse” style. In other words, it’s a heavily fruited, light-bodied sour ale—and a great one at that. At 5.8%, it’s also boozier than any Berliner, but you’d be hard pressed to tell. This beer was brewed with thousands of pounds of guava and mango, and it is bursting with tropical fruit flavor. If you can’t go to the beach, bring the beach to you.