Paste's Top 10 Beers of the Month: April 2017

Drink Lists Craft Beer
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<i>Paste's</i> Top 10 Beers of the Month: April 2017

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 March here.

By no means a comprehensive list of everything new that came out in April (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!

Live Oak Hefeweizen

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This month we did a blind tasting of 59 of the best wheat beers and hefeweizens. Live Oak’s Hefeweizen took top honors in that challenge. According to Paste’s News editor Jim Vorel “ Live Oak is one of those breweries that has been building hype in Texas for years, and I’ve been hearing about them nearly as long, but this is their first appearance in a Paste tasting. Suffice to say, it looks like they could form a terrifying hurdle alongside Urban Chestnut for any upcoming tastings of German beer styles, because Live Oak Hefeweizen is the truth. In fact, of all the other beers in the tasting, the one it reminds you of the most is the Weihenstephaner. It’s very authentically German on the nose—you would almost certainly think it was imported, rather than American, thanks to the pronounced, nuanced clove phenol in particular, and a touch of bubblegum fruitiness. Beyond that, banana bread and spice assert themselves in a gentle way, blending with a creamy, bready malt backbone. It’s exactly what you would describe if someone was asking you to tell them what the style of hefeweizen was all bout. It’s a spectacular brew, and it’s our #1 wheat beer.”

Urban Chestnut Schnickelfritz

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This beer honestly had me at “Schnickelfritz.” Besides the solid name, this one came in second in our wheat beer tasting. This is what Jim had to say: “This is one of those beers we never seem to be able to praise enough. As we’ve written about in previous tastings—pilsner, marzen and the last time we tasted wheat beers—we have yet to encounter any American brewery that consistently brews classic German styles as cleanly and superbly as St. Louis’ Urban Chestnut. This is just what these guys do best, and it’s well past time that everyone else shared our esteem. Schnickelfritz is a prototypical German hefeweizen that differentiates itself by being just a bit cleaner, crisper and brighter than almost all the other American examples. Banana and clove are perfectly in harmony and balance on the nose, in a way that you couldn’t mistake for any other beer style. Crisp, grainy malt is fairly unobtrusive, and there’s a slight, almost vanilla-like sweetness rounding everything out. In our eyes, this is more or less perfection.”

Surly Unbridled

In the months since Haug left for Three Floyds, Surly has gone through something of an identity crisis. They’ve discarded the misanthropic Arrogant Bastard-style brand voice, moving their press and marketing team in house, and added a focus on sessionable beers like Dodgy Geezer and Xtra Citra — two things that are inherently at odds with their palate-nuking, liquid-fuck-you beginnings. This is what makes Unbridled such an interesting pour. It’s tempting to call Unbridled a transition beer. Its husky hop profile is right in line with the West Coast-emulating beers of Surly’s halcyon days (Furious, Overrated!, Abrasive), but the full-Brettanomyces yeast bill and fruity backbone show a clear deviation for the booming brewery.

Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Milk Stout

Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Milk Stout is exactly what it sounds like: a milk stout with black raspberry. While arguably most milk stouts have a sweet feel to them, the lactose plus the sweetness from the fruit in this one makes it even more on the sweet side than normal. That sweetness was intended and is recognized by the brewery as well. It was described to me as “liquid ice cream,” a description I’d say is pretty spot on. Braxton has gone all-in on that description and sells glasses at the brewery that look like you’d enjoy an ice cream float in them. Honestly, this beer with a huge scoop of chocolate ice cream in it would probably be amazing.

Avery Apricot Sour

Apricot Sour is the latest Botanicals & Barrels release and it’s heavy on the sharp tart first impression that has created a love-hate relationship with sour beers for many. While visions of apricot give the idea this beer may be sweet and light, it’s instead puckering and complex, yet subtly balanced between strongly acidic lacto flavor and a calm and soothing apricot that pulls it away from that eye-opening first sip.

De Garde Bu Weisse

Bu Weisse is tart, with citrus notes that make it refreshing, and something you’d want to reach for on a hot summer day. Cereal malt and a bit of funk remind you that you’re drinking a beer, not a glass fruit juice. It’s amazingly drinkable, and something I can definitely see myself gravitating toward this summer if I see it out and about.

Bauhaus Brew Labs Uber Duber

German-inspired Bauhaus Brew Labs likes to mix it up with their seasonal rotation, straying beyond the norm and well beyond the German theme of their core line-up. Originally, Über Düber was to be a new beer style each year, but they liked the 2016 imperial sparkling ale enough to bring it back again this year, revised for the new year.

Run the Jewels Stay Gold IPA

It would seem that Killer Mike and El-P of hip-hop duo Run the Jewels apparently have some good taste in beer, because they chose Brooklyn’s Interboro Spirits & Ales, along with Asheville, NC’s Burial Beer Co., to produce their new Stay Gold IPA. Named for the track off RTJ 3 (read our 9.3 review here), Stay Gold is an IPA that plays to the strengths of both Interboro and Burial as two of the East coast’s best brewers of hop-forward beers.

Code 24 Old School

Ten years ago, 10 Barrel brewed its first beer: a pale ale named Code 24. Code 24, according to the press handout 10 Barrel gave me, is what firefighters will call out over the radio after they’ve finished fighting a fire and it’s time to grab a 24-pack of beer for the firehouse. Old School is the original version of Code 24. This one is pretty on-point for your average pale ale.

Duck Rabbit Milk Stout

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This month we rounded up our favorite beers from North Carolina. One of our faves is Duck rabbit’s Milk Stout, which also happens to be one of the beers that got me into craft beer in the first place. This is what Jim, who handles our blind tastings, had to say about it: “Here’s a beer that’s been made for more than a decade at least, is the brewery’s flagship, and is still flying under the radar. Not many breweries have stouts as the flagship in general, but it makes sense for Duck-Rabbit, who bill themselves as the “dark beer specialists.” This is also a beer I’d heard about for a long time but had never tried until now, having come from the Midwest a year ago. We tasted a lot of milk stouts here, but with Duck-Rabbit’s we were struck by complexity—in addition to the creamy texture and chocolatey flavors you would expect, there’s also a wonderful, berry-like fruitiness to it. As one taster wrote, “complex, but subtle.” It feels like a beer with some age on it, a recipe that has been carefully tended to and dialed in over a long period of time. It tastes like craftsmanship.”