When it comes to beer, there are a ton of choices out there, with more being added everyday. This year we’re trying something new, and 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.
By no means a comprehensive list of everything new that came out in January (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: English Barleywine
The Goose Island Bourbon County line makes a splash every year, and this year’s version was no different. For 2015, Goose Island made the switch to 16.9oz bottles from the original 12oz bottles. We gave the beer an 8.5/10 when we tried it in late January. Compared to the previous vintages, this year’s version is actually quite tame on the nose, giving off a raisin and brown sugar smell, with a little vanilla extract. There is also a faint bit of the bourbon barrel on the nose, but not as upfront as we are used to with Bourbon County Barleywine. if you’re a sucker for a good barleywine you should give this one a shot, and make sure you grab a few to hold onto as this style usually gets better with age.
Style: Imperial Stout
Calico Jack is one of three recent brewery-only releases from Olde Hickory. The rum barrel-aged imperial stout has what the brewery calls a Caribbean-inspired mix of vanilla, coconut, coffee and cayenne pepper. Which, of course, explains the pirate-esque name and label art. We gave the brew an 8/10, and found the flavor profile is nicely layered, allowing you to experience different components at different times as you’re drinking the beer.
Style: American Porter
We included last year’s version of this beer in our tasting of American porters. While it definitely did well, we were thrilled to get our hands on this year’s version recently. On the nose, the beer smells like buttered, syrupy waffles. That waffle has apparently been topped with some dark chocolate chips and grade A maple syrup, all washed down with strong, black, uncomplicated diner coffee. Add in a bit of meaty flavor on the tongue for that bacon flavor, and you have yourself a delicious beer.
Big Boss has made its Aces & Ates Coffee Stout every year since the brewery launched in 2006, and each year it gets even better, The distinctive stout is made with organic fair-trade coffee produced by Larry’s Beans, a coffee roaster local to the brewery. The coffee flavor is distinct, but not overpowering. That coffee along with malt and chocolate flavors, make this one we look forward to every year. It’s only available seasonally, so be sure to grab a pint (or a 6-pack) when you see it.
Style: American Double IPA
Maine Beer Co.’s Dinner DIPA is truly phenomenal. The nose is heavenly, with massive tropical fruit character and citrus, married to incredibly dank, resinous, green notes. It’s perfumey, boozy and massively tropical. You might detect a hint of caramel or toffee-like crystal malt, but good luck singling that out amidst an onslaught of hop aromatics. We gave the brew a 9.6/10, and acquiesce to the fact that this is an extremely hyped, sought-after beer that deserves to be hyped and sought-after.
Style: American Stout
You had us at chocolate. Cincinnati-based MadTree kicked off 2016 with a chocolate, raspberry stout that uses cocoa nibs from the Dominican Republic. Can we say delicious? MadTree first brewed the beer for Valentine’s Day in 2014, releasing it as a draft only option in their taproom, but the beer quickly sold out and fans clamored for more. Look for it throughout Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
Style: Wheat Ale with Fruit
We got our hands of Green Flash’s Passion Fruit Kicker for the first time this month, and boy, was it love at first sight. This delicious wheat beer is made by layering fruit tea and passion fruit juice with wheat malt and 2-row malted barley. The tart brew has an ABV of just 5.5%, making it a wonderful session beer for a lazy afternoon, or the perfect brew to have on hand for brunch. Speaking of fruit beers, we also tried Green Flash’s Tangerine Soul Style IPA as well this month. In a showdown with New Belgium’s Citradelic IPA, we found it to be the victor.
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11% ABV
We technically reviewed this one in late December, but we’re throwing it on the list anyway. Bell’s 30th Anniversary Ale celebrates the brewery’s 30th birthday. With an aroma of dark chocolate and rich toasted malts, we gave this 11% brew a 9/10. We’d definitely recommend grabbing a few bottles if you happen to see them out and about, availability is exceptionally limited.
Style: Foreign / Export Stout
We actually happened upon a keg of this one by Fieldwork while we were visiting another California brewery, Drakes. The limited-release chocolatey stout is sweet, but with a spicy mexican kick that will have you begging for another glass. If you happen to be lucky enough to run across a keg of this one on nitro, make sure to give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.
Style: Double IPA
This double IPA from Ithaca Beer Company will be available year round starting in February. The Creeker is packed full of killer hop strains, from the classic Simcoe and Cascade to the more fruity Mosaic and Citra, and you get a nice tour of those hop varieties throughout this bottle. We gave the brew an 8.9/10, and found it to be a complex beer that offers a wallop of sweet fruit to please casual IPA fans, but also plenty of “hidden” layers for those looking for a multi-dimensional beer experience.