Horse blankets, pineapples, and sweat socks. Do we have your attention?
Brettanomyces, or Brett, is an infamous yeast that is feared by many and treasured by others. Since it occurs naturally in the wild, most breweries try their hardest to prevent it from getting into their beers. Its signature barnyard aroma and flavors are viewed as a flaw in most beer styles. Several Belgian brewers decided instead to showcase its eccentricities and many American craft brewers are beginning to experiment with this beguiling creature. While it’s often present in sour beers, beers brewed with Brett are not inherently sour. Depending upon the particular strain of Brettanomyces, it tends to produce earthy notes with accents of peppercorn and sometimes even tropical fruit. It’s a voracious eater so be prepared for dry and effervescent beers. Here are a few of our favorites. Are you ready to get down with the barn?
We’re lucky to live in the midwest, home of iconic beers including KBS and Hopslam. It’s been a while since the Beer Buzz team last traveled to Michigan, so we packed up the bus and hit the road again. This time even more beer-loving Binny’s employees explored, tasted and learned about some of Michigan’s best breweries – and even a cidery – and we’re bringing our passion back for you.
As today’s beer enthusiasts clamor for more session-able brews, it makes sense that a growing number of craft brewers have finally set their sights on this old world classic. Pilsners were first conceived in the 19th century by Bavarian brewmaster Josef Groll. His bottom fermenting strain of yeast yielded a sparkling, golden brew whose white foam, sweet malty notes, and hoppy savor came to define the style. We’ve picked out a few of our favorite new world takes on the style as well as a pair of must-try classics.
Beginning as a small brewpub focusing on quality food and drinks, Brickstone garnered national attention by winning numerous accolades, including gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Championship. Here are a few classics available to take home in a six pack.
Breweries often release small batches of Russian Imperial Stout to great critical acclaim, with devotees scrambling to get their hands on a rare bottle or two. Some are so coveted that they have entire beer festivals celebrating their release. Thankfully there are plenty of amazing Russian Imperial Stouts that are readily available. As good as many of these are fresh, with time many transform into something really special, rivaling even the brightest cherry or the whitest of whales. Here are some of those classics, all of which are in stores now. All will age gracefully, gaining complexity over time.
Salty, sour and spicy – welcome to the wild side of the craft beer scene. Gose, pronounced “Go-zuh”, is another obscure European beer style that was all but lost until American craft brewers breathed new life into it. Gose is a tart, sessionable wheat beer that is spiced with coriander, so fans of Belgian Wits and Berliner Weiss will find some familiar flavors here. The defining characteristic of Gose is that it’s brewed with salt and it’s this salty minerality that makes it such a distinctive style of beer. While it may not be for everyone, when done well it can be a wonderfully refreshing palate cleansing brew that is perfect for the coming warm weather. Here are some excellent examples. Let us know how it goes.
Schlafly may be new to Chicagoland but they are veterans of the Midwest craft brewing scene. Opening their doors in 1991 they focused on brewing quality examples of classic beer styles (of particular note is their Kolsch). But they are also brewing up some great versions of popular new styles, such as imperial stouts, and Schlafly’s take is nothing short of tremendous.
Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
On the nose it’s an intoxicating mix of vanilla, toffee, dates and roasted pecans. Rich and decadent with notes of cocoa and coffee, leading to a bright spirited finish. This is a hidden gem from an unsung hero. As good as it is fresh, it also ages beautifully and with vintage dated 25.4oz bottles priced at $11.99 they are an affordable way to build up your cellar.
Saisons are highly carbonated and refreshing pale ales that were originally brewed by Belgian farmers in order to entice seasonal farmhands or “saisonniers” to sign on and work the summer months. As such saisons are often thought of as summer beer. Thankfully many excellent breweries are now producing this style year round and we think it makes an especially fine choice to toast the arrival of spring.
Of all the beer styles brewed toady, few are open to as much interpretation as the saison. Yeast plays a big role in a saison’s flavor profile and while most are brewed with strains that produce highly aromatic and spicy flavors, some also incorporate wild yeast strains such as Brettanomyces to impart an earthy funky finish. So we hope you raise up a toast to warmer weather and the changing of the seasons, and here are a few of our favorites to fill your glass.
Deschutes Armory XPA
XPA? In this case, it stands for Experimental Pale Ale. Fruity and yeasty with a good malt backbone, Armory drinks like a well-crafted English Pale Ale with an American twist. Classic American standbys like Centennial and Cascade mix with Citra hops to provide a bright citrusy finish with a touch of tropical fruit.
Surly Xtra Citra Pale Ale
Surly certainly crafts some masterfully hopped beers, and have now brewed an aptly named ale that showcases this pungent, fruity hop. The Xtra explodes with Citra’s tropical aroma we know and love, but at 4.5% abv makes for especially easy drinking. Balanced by a creamy body and at only $7.99 for a 4pk of tallboys, this may be the best deal in craft beer we have.
A new season is upon us which means a whole new shelf load of beers have arrived. Here are a few we can’t wait to get our hands on.