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Paste's Top 10 Beers: September 2016

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Paste's Top 10 Beers: September 2016

When it comes to beer, there are a ton of choices out there, with more being added everyday. This year we’re rounding up some of our fave new finds each month. Some of the brews we did full reviews on, while others are just special gems we found on tap while we were out and about that we think you should know about.

Check out our favorite beers from August here.

By no means a comprehensive list of everything new that came out in September (we can only drink so much!), here are some of our favorites that we’d recommend you grabbing a pint of while you’re out with friends, or picking up a few bottles of at your local bottle shop.
Discover something new this month that you absolutely love? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments!


Left Hand Brewing Rye on the Prize

Rye on the Prize is in the tradition of resinous red IPAs, but the rye inclusion gives it something a little different, almost a burst of citric acid-like abrasion that sits at the back of the tongue and makes subtle appearances that bursts with flavor but quickly moves on. It’s a steady everyday beer that’s versatile with a variety of foods, though a bit high on the alcohol content, being an imperial and all, to truly consider it a “go to” on a daily basis. While it doesn’t reinvent the red IPA, it’s a solid and distinct addition that highlights what makes beer so damn intriguing in the first place.


Crux Fermentation Project Better Off Red

Better Off Red, from Oregon’s Crux Fermentation Project, is one of those beers that if I drank it six or seven years ago, would have seemed utterly novel to me. A blended Flanders-style red ale, aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels for nearly a year with brettanomyces, it hits upon multiple trends popular in barrel-aging, but does so in a way that never strays far from being a drinkable crowd-pleaser. It’s a beer that sounds a bit more ambitious in description than it tastes, but that’s not a bad thing.


Brau Brothers Rubus Black

Rubus Black is a complex beer that goes through many transitions, but it starts and ends with berry, while the chocolate plays with a Maris Otter malt for a lactose-sugar-like body in a mid-carbonated beer. The flavor transition is something like this: berry acidity to chocolate to fruity berries to a quick hop bite and, finally, onto a chocolate finish that evens out the fruity profile that lingers on the tongue like a soft red wine. While there’s a lot going on, at its core this beer is berry highlights with a solid chocolate foundation.


Green Flash Ochre Frumento

Freshly extracted from its cask coma by barrel-aging guru Pat Korn, Ochre Frumento is the second entry in Green Flash’s Barrelmaster’s Reserve series of micro releases. It would be appropriate to pour this rich brown barley wine into a snifter, because aromas of brandy and bourbon are the first things that hit your nose. Don your favorite smoking jacket, park yourself by a roaring fireplace and engage in an appropriate amount of swirling to unlock the flavors of this complex brew. Your first sips are definitely brandy-forward, but caramel, toffee and stone fruit emerge as it warms up. Clocking in at a whopping 17.5%, this liquid haymaker is the biggest beer that Green Flash has ever released, which is why it’s packaged in a convenient 750ml fun size. Seriously…share it with a friend or two.


Angry Chair Brewing’s Imperial German Chocolate Cupcake Stout

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With a festival as long as CBC, big stouts aren’t always the way to go, but we could not resist trying the big brother version of a favorite from Angry Chair. Very few dessert beers are able to actually deliver on their name, but Angry Chair did not disappoint with the beer that launched their dessert series. This decadent treat in a glass gives off a sweet chocolate brownie aroma, and endless amounts of chewy coconut on the mouthfeel. After trying this one, we can’t wait to try more of their offerings.


Avery The Beast

Sometimes beer names are clever, sometimes they’re straight to the point. The Beast grand cru oak aged ale is both. At 16.8% ABV that number dominates the discussion. This beer packs a wallop of both complexity and booze, with a heavy fusel alcohol even once the beer warms from the too-cool fridge temp. By nature of what it is, The Beast is going to be a divisive beer. This one is more of a curiosity than a go-to. It’s quality and complex, but the alcohol content shifts the balance. This may be the first time I’ve said a 12-ounce bottle is too big a container, but The Beast is three beers in one, in both flavor profile and in booziness.


Founders Rubaeus

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Founders adds fresh raspberries at five different stages of brewing this one, and you can tell. It tastes like fresh fruit. The brew is lightly carbonated, giving it more of the mouthfeel of a stout or brown ale, making it a smooth, wonderful nightcap, or a delicious mid-day treat.


Bokkereyder Framboos Vanille

If any brewery won the weekend at CBC, it was the ever-humble, one-man operation that is Bokkereyder. Three years since opening in 2013, Bokkereyder has a capacity of about 80 oak barrels, making “him” one of the smallest breweries pouring at CBC. Offering over 20 blends, Bokkereyder was one of the tents we had to try…we just didn’t expect everyone else to feel the same way. Having never poured in the U.S., Bokkereyder had quite the coming out party sporting the longest lines through all three sessions. While each beer of his was excellent, two truly stood out. Framboos Vanille is made with two-year old Lambic from pinot noir barrels, with 200 pounds of fresh raspberries and both Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla beans. The vanilla bean combo softens the acidity, and adds additional complexity to both the aroma and texture of this beautiful beer.


Wicked Weed/ Creature Comforts Juiceless IPA

All in all, this IPA strikes me as more classical than it is experimental, but its purity of flavors should make it a must-drink for folks who like their IPAs bright, vivacious and fruity while still remaining dry. Stylistically, you wouldn’t compare it to something from Tree House, Trillium or our recent 247 IPA blind-tasting winner Prison City, but that’s not a criticism. If anything, what it reminds me of most is another great beer that made the finals of that same tasting: Alpine Beer Co.’s rock-solid and refreshing Duet IPA. Regardless, putting this beer out on tail end of summer heat was a wise choice, as Juiceless is one of the most crushable IPAs I’ve tasted in quite a while. Give us this beer in cans and watch it fly off the shelves for the next few months.


Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen

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This month we did a blind tasting of 55 Oktoberfest and Marzen beers, and Ayinger’s came out on top. Ayinger is a perennial favorite in this category, and a beer that plenty of American craft beer geeks think of as their annual oktoberfest must-buy, and this result justifies that position in the marketplace. In terms of profile, though, it’s actually a fair bit different from most of the other German märzens that were on the table. It’s somewhat darker for one, with a distinctly creamy, viscous mouthfeel that most of the beers in this style don’t have. Smooth, toasty malt is dominant, with a small but noticeable level of balancing bitterness. Multiple tasters even noted a light citrus note that was also unexpected. Between the mouthfeel and mild residual sweetness, though, the biggest impression one takes away from the Ayinger is the unquantifiable idea of “smoothness” and rounded flavors—there are no rough edges here. It’s quite drinkable, but in a slightly richer, fuller way than in say, the #2 beer from Third Street Brewhouse. It’s a German classic, but it hits a distinctive sweet spot between many of the other German interpretations of the style and the profile that American consumers expect. And as a result, it’s a consummate oktoberfest beer.

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