This content was originally published by The Hop Review, a digital magazine that joined the Hop Culture family in March 2020.
This piece was written by Jack Muldowney.
Each month, we share a handful of beers that we think you should know a little more about, through the perspective of our collective palate.
We tasted through the following 18 beers for October and rated them according to our very own interpretation of the BJCP scoring guidelines, on a newly implemented 5-star scale and listed in alphabetical order. We considered aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, overall impression and trueness to style. The rating system can be interpreted as follows:
✶✶✶✶✶ SEEK IT OUT
✶✶✶✶ VERY GOOD
✶✶ 2 STARS
✶ SKIP IT
This month lower ABVs reign supreme, coffee gets featured, German craft beers are showcased, and American pale ales make a return.
ABITA SPRINGS, LA – 4.7% ABV
For those looking for more options in the lo-cal range, Abita’s brought their hoppy version to the table. While a distinct hop bite and a crisp finish are present, there’s not a ton to remember here. We’d hoped for a little more punch, to keep this from drinking too much like hop water.
Drink if: you are cal/carb counting.
Hell Hazed Over
DOWNERS GROVE, IL – 8.1% ABV
The hazy NEIPA from the team that swore they’d never brew one…is now a year-round offering. ‘HHO’ is the fruit-forward, low bitterness take you’d expect for the style; mango, tangerine and melon shine, thanks to Sultana, Mosaic, and Amarillo. And at 8.1%, it’ll getcha.
Drink if: you’re still seeking out hazies.
MUNICH, GER – 5.5% ABV
I was most excited to bring this pale ale back from Munich, after discovering the brewery a couple years back. But, I found this one to be a bit disappointing. It was very malt-forward and bready, with a bitter orange citrus finish. The dusty/papery taste hints that this one might’ve sat on the shelf past its prime.
Drink to: try a rare take on German pale.
SAN DIEGO, CA – 5.5% ABV
This milk stout from San Diego gets the cold brew coffee + cinnamon treatment. The result is an easy drinking 5.5% ale loaded with flavor. An additional sweetness peeks through, too, thanks to the addition of honey. It’s a pleasant stout with enough interest to keep you sipping, without overwhelming ya.
Drink as: a winter weekend pick-me-up.
Green is Lord
AUGSBURG, GER – 5.1% ABV
This was the clear winner in my haul from Germany. It’s a soft, fluffy lemony pale ale with that slight tinge of earthy/grassiness. It was well balanced and executed across the board. Remember when American pale ales like this were abundant across the US? I miss those days…
Drink to: recall those good ‘ol pale ales.
FREISING, GER – 5.2% ABV
Crisp, smooth, earthy and simple–a classic German helles. Straw colored and nearly transparent, this one is a refreshing lager that would be the perfect compliment to anything from a fall salad to a schnitzel to a giant pretzel.
Drink with: your favorite German fare.
KARL STRAUSS x ALESMITH
Blink of an IPA
SAN DIEGO, CA – 6.5% ABV
This collaboration from two San Diego titans highlights Kveik yeast, giving it plenty of citrusy yeast esters, and a decidedly pear/melon profile. It’s a pleasant take on the IPA in a sea of haze.
Drink because: yeast deserves some attention too.
COLUMBUS, OH – 5.3% ABV
Brewed to benefit the National Veterans Museum, this American pale ale is another this month reminiscent of the pale ales from a few years back; malty, grassy, citrusy and all around crisp.
Toasted Rice Lager
CHICAGO, IL – 5.5% ABV
Previously released for exclusive distribution in China, it’s now state-side. This lager was made to pair with Chinese cuisine, it is the perfect compliment–bready, sweet, and palate-cleansing.
Drink with: dumplings, sticky rice, chow mein, tofu, Szechuan beef…
LISBON, PRT – 5.0% ABV
Our first ever Portuguese beer brings us this punny red from Lisbon. It’s a caramely malt-forward ale with a peachy fruit finish. Not overly bitter, it is quite dry however with a prickly mouthfeel.
Drink if: you’ve been missing those reds.
FORT BRAGG, CA – 4.1% ABV
This is a beer made to drink alongside your plate of turkey, 11/28. It’s fragrant, beautifully-colored (we swear), dry and sharply acidic. And at 4.1%, you can be thankful that you’ll be able to enjoy the whole bottle yourself.
Drink with: your Thanksgiving meal.
Café Deth (2019)
CHICAGO, IL – 14.8% ABV
Another home run from Rev’s barrel program. This year’s ‘Café’ is one for the books–loaded with fresh coffee ground aroma, roastiness and barrel warmth without any acidity or bitterness. And the heat is secondary to the coffee. The bar’s been raised for BA coffee stouts.
Drink if: you can only drink one BA coffee stout all winter.
NEWPORT, or – 8.6% ABV
Rogue’s take on a wet-hopped imperial hazy IPA, this one is loaded with fruity aroma and flavor–packed into this can of muddled orange haze. It’s a blend of classic west coast pine-forward IPA + juicy east coast-ness.
Drink if: you want one more wet-hopped harvest ale before winter.
BERLIN, GER – 3.0% ABV
Our last import from our Germany visit last month, this one out of Berlin is exactly what you’d want in a Berliner Weisse: tart, lemony, biscuity with a showcase of yeast character. This is one to win over sour and non-sour fans alike.
Drink to: sample a classic German sour.
SAN DIEGO, CA – 8.1% ABV
This one’s spelled out in the name: an “imperial stout inspired by Mexican hot chocolate,” and it’s one we look forward to every year. Up front, it’s all coffee and cinnamon, with a tinge of pepper spice. The taste is a mirror image, but toss in vanilla and nutmeg. Sweet meets spice.
Drink with: some chili dark chocolate .
SAN DIEGO, CA – 0.5% ABV
Here’s a weird one. The cannabis brand provided us this non-infused version, which also happens to be an NA “lager inspired” beverage. And…it’s actually quite flavorful for an NA; in fact, it took home gold in the category at GABF. Just not sure how often we’d go after this.
Drink if: you’re curious.
DDH Formerly Known As…
plainfield, IL – 7.4% ABV
Another ‘throwback’, this DIPA lets the hops do the heavy lifting here, allowing a fantastic blend of pininess, citrus peel and sticky resin show through. This is a DIPA reminiscent of a mere few years ago when you could find DIPAs that weren’t just juice, yet still flavorful.
Drink if: you appreciate lupulin.
WESTBOUND & DOWN
Double Barrel Louie
IDAHO SPRINGS, CO – 11.5% ABV
This double-BA barleywine is a silver medal winner from GABF, from the brewery that also took home Mid-Sized Brewpub & Brewer of the Year honors. It’s big, boozey and loaded with caramel sweetness. It’s one of those beers that will warm ya up right away.
Drink if: you’re in search of some BA alternatives to your stout lineup.
The Hop Review’s monthly beer reviews are collected from beers gathered at the discretion of our team. They include beers collected from travels as well as shared samples.
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