When it comes to beer, there are a ton of choices out there, with more being added everyday. Each month, we round up some of our fave new finds. 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 May here.
By no means a comprehensive list of everything new that came out in May (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!
Its name alludes to slang used by jazz musicians for when a player falls into a perfect groove, and the reference is apt. There’s a lot going on here. It pours a deep gold, with modest effervescence and hints of fruit on the nose, an impression that carries through on the palate. A pleasant, sour tartness, partners nicely with the oaky notes from the barrel. The beer delivers pear, citrus, but with a strong backbone of brightness typical to saison, and whispers of tannins at the finish. The complex yet smooth brew belies its 9.9% ABV. It’s a perfect illustration of what a wild/sour ale can really accomplish. Here’s hoping some of the one-offs currently on offer at their tap room in Bend, OR—the Albarino Sour, the Pinot Gris Sour, and the Viognier Sour—soon join the roster of these now-more-widely-distributed large-format bottles.- Nathan Borchelt
An excellent representation of the style, this one has just a touch of citrus married with woody grain, malt, and pine. It’s exactly what I would expect from an English brewery, or to be handed at a pub in London. The malty backbone, however, makes this beer feel like more of a warm-weather pale ale than one you’d want to have during hotter summer months where something a little crisper should likely take top billing on the menu. Still, if you happen to see it on draft while you’re out and about, it’s worth giving this one a try and seeing what a gold medal English Pale Ale tastes like. – Emily Price
Über Joe pours jet black with a head that turns oily as it dissipates. The nose gives off all of those dessert-focused extras: chocolate, vanilla and coffee, with a roasty, malty stout at the core. In the flavor profile, it covers each of those ingredients as well, both collectively and in isolated flavors that wash over the palate. With a bitter coffee note at first, it turns to chocolate milk for a flash, then a quick coffee and vanilla, then back with more coffee and maple notes. Through the entire sensation, nothing upsets the balance. – Loren Green
It’s no secret that there are some bad NE-IPA’s on the market today, as breweries try to ride the wave of that trend and embrace the haze. But it makes me sad to have conversations with some professional brewers these days who are more or less unable to appreciate a beer in the style of Fort George 3-Way. This beer is simply delicious; juicy but also complex and approachable by an entire contingent of the market for whom IPA was never an attraction. In a phrase, this kind of great beer is what modern IPA is all about. If you’re unable to wrap your head around it just because of how it looks in the glass, then I can’t help but feel like you’re missing out. – Jim Vorel
On the tongue, this beer is a combination of big marmalade, papaya, mango, pine, and a squeeze of acidic lemon. It’s soft on first impression, with the orange-marmalade coming through as the other flavors then intermingle in a potent fruit cocktail. It’s not sweet at all, though. Instead the bitter pine takes over the profile about two-thirds of the way through and wipes the tongue clean of everything but resin. After a sip or two, it’s surprising that the beer hasn’t overpowered the tongue yet, but that changes over the duration of a 12-oz. bottle. – Loren Green
Pineapple, juicy peach, ago, and nectarine all mesh together with this one. The fruit is prevalent on the nose, and at first sip, you get a lot of that tropical fruit with a backbone of pine from the hops. The brewery used Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra with this one, giving it a unique flavor that puts in more on-par with an IPA you’d grab in America than a European brew. That said, it’s not exactly your typical IPA either. Fruit lingers on the palette after each sip, making this seem more in line with a fruit beer than your standard run of the mill IPA. Despite its hefty 7.5% ABV, I could see this being one you might take with you in cans to a summer picnic, as well as something that would make for a nice nightcap after a big night out. – Emily Price
This month was Firestone Walker’s Invitational. We rounded up some of our favorites. Here’s what John Verive had to say about this one by Russian River: The best beer at the festival is Russian River’s immaculate golden sour Beatification. Spontaneously fermented and oak aged in the lambic tradition, Beatification tastes like a chorus of angels singing just for you, and it smells even better. It’s a beer that is as unsurprising as it is excellent, and this year it was nearly overshadowed by the most humble of Russian River offerings: a table beer called Scratching Post. Scratching Post takes the crisp bitterness and hoppy essence of the modern (post Pivo) pilsner, marries it to a whiff of phenolic yeast, and delivers it to your face with the drinkability of a blonde ale. Dry hopped and bone-dry, Scratching Post is both elegant and workaday, a triumph in brewing an unassuming style so well it will stop you in your tracks and remind you why Vinnie Cilurzo is probably your favorite brewer’s favorite brewer. – John Verive
Jim Vorel loved this one by Fonta Flora at Firestone Walker’s festival: Now here’s an interesting one. Fonta Flora brought its typical A-game, always seemingly gunning for “best in fest” status with an array of truly unique, unusual brews, most of which were fruited. But while cherry or blueberry beers aren’t too difficult to come across at such a fest, paw paw beer is still a bit more of a novelty. The name is presumably a reference to the creamy, custard-like texture of paw paw fruit’s flesh, but it’s also well reflected by the creamy texture of this sour. The beer is white wine barrel aged and fermented with a blend of brettanomyces and lactobacillus, but also gains an unusual fruited sweetness and juicy character from the paw paws—I can only compare it to being sort of like a cross between kiwi and mango, at least to my taste. Kudos to these guys for presenting truly new and ambitious flavors on a yearly basis. – Jim Vorel
This month we did a blind tasting of 116 different saisons, and this one by Burial came out on top. Here’s what Jim Vorel had to say: This one, Separation of Light and Darkness, is a showpiece for both their brettanomyces and lactobacillus mixed culture as well as their skill with using hops as a finishing touch. Moderately tart, it’s quickly clear that this is a brett beer as well, as it puts forth a telltale funk that is earthy and almost slightly leathery. Of course, you’d really have to be searching to find either of those, because sweet-blooming citrus is the first thing you’ll get on the nose, which follows through onto the palate. Says one score sheet: “Amazing citrus aroma, and perfect acidity.” From another: “Funky, tart, citrus, peppery, wow.” From one more: “Just a clean, bright, hoppy, perfect saison.” And because someone will surely ask why the photographer chose to shoot only this one before pouring the beer, I can only say that your guess is as good as mine.-Jim Vorel
Coming in second place in that taking was FunkWerks Saison. Here’s what Jim had to say: A non-sour, non-barrel-aged, more or less classic Franco-Belgian saison in second place? We’re surprised too, but yep, that’s what happened. Of course, when you look at the accolades of FunkWerks’ farmhouse flagship, it becomes less surprising … you don’t win multiple GABF medals with the same beer on accident. The key on this one is an extremely assertive, complex Belgian yeast strain that is doing all the heavy lifting—this stuff is magical. Few saisons in the entire tasting were so tropical fruity in nature, to the point that you could be forgiven, upon smelling, if you thought this beer was loaded with some sort of tropical Australian or New Zealand hop strain. Instead, though, it seems to be primarily coming from the yeast, with tropical notes of passionfruit, pineapple and papaya, which gives way with great subtlety to an unmistakable finish of Belgian yeast-derived spice. That peppery/coriander-esque finish gives us structure; the framework of a great Belgian saison. As one score sheet says: “Straight up perfect saison.” -Jim Vorel