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 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!
Style: Baltic Porter
As soon as you crack open the bottle, a strong coffee aroma wafts up from the espresso extract that’s used during the brewing process. Cosmic Ristretto pours a luxurious black with a finger of creamy head (or more if you pour too aggressively). Coffee is obviously the first thing you taste, but there are additional roasted notes from the chocolate malt and sweetness from Belgian candy sugar. An addition of lactose helps to fill out the body of the brew, and it also takes away some of the bitterness from the espresso. Clocking in at 8.2% ABV, it’s probably not a good idea to sub it in for your morning cup of joe, but you might be tempted as there’s nary a hint of booziness.
Style: Black IPA
Stone’s Enjoy By 05.04.16 Black IPA won our black IPA tasting this month, and actually had the highest ABV of any of the beers that were part of the tasting. This offering is seriously hoppy, which gives it perhaps the best overall nose on any of the beers in the tasting. A plethora of fruit notes explode from the glass—tropical fruit in particular, but also a delightful stone fruit character that reminded some tasters of apricot. It’s admittedly lighter on the “black” side of the equation—dark brownish red in color, really, rather than true black—and this is reflected in the malt flavors, which are more like the stage for hops to dance upon. Search enough, though, and you’ll find just enough cocoa and nutty malt impressions on the back end that you would realize this wasn’t simply an IPA, drinking it blindfolded. It’s also remarkable how well that ABV is hidden.
Along with spring comes Let It Ride IPA, a copper and surprisingly dark IPA with a nice frothy head. Let It Ride lives on the aromatic impression it creates: it’s green and bold, a blend of Mosaic, Calypso, and El Dorado hops that produce a hint of fruity and a lot of spring freshness, all of which is grounded by a touch of earthy malt at the core. Indeed likes their hops powerful and bitter, and that’s showcased with Let It Ride. It has a hint of the dryness of their Day Tripper pale ale, but Let It Ride is smoother, with less pine resin and softer on the tongue. It uses a mid-carbonation level that accents the recipe. It’s “hoppy” as they say, but without annihilating the nuance. Meanwhile, its body is oily, fresh, and green in flavor while the finish is acidic and bitter, biting but with an easy-going mouthfeel.
We came across Sycamore’s Berry the Hatchet during a tour of some of Charlotte’, NC’s breweries and fell immediately in love. The bourbon barrel-aged wild raspberry stout is the first in the brewery’s new Terroir Series and is truly phenomenal. The tart raspberry flavor is complemented beautifully with chocolate notes from the stout. Add in a little flavor from the bourbon barrel and the only problem is you only have 500ml of it. If you happen to snag one of these limited-release bottles, be sure to drink it somewhere where you can have it all to yourself.
Style: Double IPA
This month we took another look at Pipework’s Ninja vs. Unicorn, a brew we first reviewed roughly two years ago. In the two years since, the beer has made the transition from large-format bottles to four-packs of 16-ounce cans. After two years, we think Ninja Vs. Unicorn is a great example of what a double IPA should be: a punch of hop flavor and aroma, a decent amount of bitterness and a touch of alcohol heat. The packaging may have changed, but the quality of this beer remains top-notch.
Style: Session Pale Ale
On the palate, carbonation is high and hop flavors are light-to-medium in intensity, with low bitterness that is notably different from what one would likely expect to perceive in a session IPA. This unsurprisingly boosts drinkability, which was presumably the whole idea. Hop flavors again show up as predominantly citrus, although they’re not as assertive as the initial aroma would suggest. Malt flavors are grainy and slightly unusual—although oats are typically perceived more via texture than flavor, I wonder if the oats are making themselves felt here by providing more of a cereal grain flavor. The brewery says the oats are meant to give it “a body that you don’t see in most other session pale ales,” but this is still 4.3% ABV beer—it’s going to be light and drinkable no matter what.
The Barrel Series includes a range of styles, from a bourbon barrel-aged coffee stout to a white wine belgian golden ale and bourbon-barrel quad. Back in February, Hardywood released this year’s vintage of its Bourbon Barrel Barleywine: a 13% British-style behemoth that pays homage to the traditional after-dinner beer. You’ll certainly want to have something to eat before hand, but this beverage also does well as dessert all by itself.
Style: Cream Ale
Due South’s Caramel Cream Ale pours an amber brown with a tan-colored head that fades quickly. It’s a lot darker than a typical cream ale thanks to the dark crystal malts used to make the beer. In the nose, there’s a load of caramel and vanilla sweetness that reminds us somewhat of a sticky bun or a similar pastry. The aroma tricked us into thinking this beer would be overly sweet, but as we found out, it’s definitely not. And that’s a good thing.
Virginia-based Starr Hill took their popular King of Hop Imperial IPA and added grapefruit, lemon and lime and habanero to create three brand new beers. Then they put those new beers in a 12 pack with the original King of Hop and sent it to us. So we drank them all, back to back. The Habanero version was our favorite. It was spicy at first, but the spice waned as we dug into the bottle, and began to mingle with the citrus and bitterness from the hops to create a completely addictive brew. In the end, Habanero was our favorite of the four King of Hop options.
We enjoyed everything we tried at Sierra Nevada’s Asheville taproom and restaurant, but its German IPA was one of our favorites. The IPA uses German-grown hops and a kolsch yeast to make a crisp, delicious brew perfect for those hot summer days.