A celebration of beer making? Sounds like a reason to hoist a stein. As the beer scene continually evolves, rare offerings and one-off brews are part of the charm. The a la carte sixer has taken over and flagships rotate ever more frequently. Brewers want to experiment with new recipes, and patrons swarm for the unique creations. It’s not just new beer from new brewers, though. When brewers hit milestones, it’s often a chance to play around and serve something new.
Here is a look at some recent and upcoming big anniversary beers available in select markets. Of course, there are as many anniversary beers as there are breweries and a comprehensive list is impossible. Dogfish Head ran a big series last year for their 20th, Stone has an annual release, as do many more. Here are eight to look for.
One Five Five
August Schell Brewing Company (New Ulm, MN)
“As in 155 years of tradition. As in six generations of brewing heritage spanning the Civil War, the Great Depression, Prohibition, two World Wars and disco music.” We couldn’t put it any better ourselves. With an emphasis on German-style beers throughout the past century and a half, Schell’s released this beer full-time in 12 oz. bottles for all to enjoy the red lager with subtle, citrus-hop note atop its caramel, toffee base. The beer was released in the summer of 2015.
Summit Brewing Company (St. Paul, MN)
Thirty years old this September, Summit will release four special beers throughout the year, kicking off with Double IPA and followed by a Keller Pils, West Long-Style Ale, and a winter Barleywine. The DIPA is a potent 8.5%, with a smooth bitterness and some tropic fruit aromatics. It’s available in four-pack tall cans now, while the others will be released seasonally as 2016 progresses.
Fat Tire Riff-Pack
New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO)
Fat Tire amber ale is synonymous with New Belgium, a beer that now leads the brewery’s brand in 41 states as the B-Corp business grows and remains focused on sustainable practices, employee ownerships, and the love of the bicycle. To celebrate 25 years, they’re collaborating with other breweries in a beer version of the cover song, letting Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME), Avery Brewing (Boulder, Colo.), Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA), Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, OR) and Rhinegeist Brewery (Cincinnati, OH) take Fat Tire for a ride and reinterpretation in a sampler pack with two original and classic Fat Tires and two re-imagined variations from each. Allagash brings in brettanomyces, Hopworks gives a blast of lactobacillus, and the others switch up yeast profiles and hop levels as well. The sampler pack comes out this June, with official parties in both Fort Collins and Asheville, NC.
Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, MD)
Instead of silver, Flying Dog is celebrating 25 years with pineapple, mango, and passion fruit in this remake of their divisively named Belgian IPA, Raging Bitch, which first appeared at anniversary 20. With a hop profile that already displayed tropical notes, the brewers did the next logical thing and upped the profile with the fruits themselves. The beer is out now in limited release, beginning with Flying Dog’s anniversary on Jan. 28, 2016.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA)
Firestone Walker brings a new blended barrel-aged beer to their followers every November for the past 10 years running, with local winemakers sharing their unique skills in the blending process. 2015 saw XIX, a blend of Parabola, Stickee Monkee, Bravo, and Velvet Merkin that profiled, per their description, as “a rich, chocolaty, chewy brew with brandy-soaked raisin and holiday fruitcake flavors.” Coming in November, with their 20th year milestone to celebrate, it’s safe to expect something equally bold and unique.
Victory Brewing Company (Downington, PA)
Twenty years in and still experimenting, as this Experimental IPA features Idaho 7 hops and a blend of pilsner and CaraPils malt for a citrus and pine forward beer that marks two decades of Victory. Sweet melon and cantaloupe give way to crisp finish and an easy drinking 5.5% ABV that showcase Victory’s direction as they near drinking age. Anniversary 20 is available in limited supply bottles that hit shelves this January.
SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, GA)
SweetWater has a tradition in recent years: Belgian-styled beers plus barrel-aging. This beer, 19, is a golden Belgian-style ale. While it’s an IPA at its base, the merlot and cabernet barrels give a fully balanced beer that’s soft on the mouth with a unique mixture of Belgian yeast and berry-driven wine flavors in an effervescent package. At 7% and a hazy gold in color, 19 is a lovely afternoon beer that splits duties, both complex and layered but also easy drinking.
Central Waters Brewing Company (Amherst, WI)
Central Waters, like SweetWater above, dedicated each year’s party to the barrel-aged variety, with a unique offering of their imperial stout each January. It’s sold both in-house and in bomber bottles and is a creamy big and rich imperial stout with chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon tones.