Welcome back to What We’re Drinking, the new bi-weekly feature wherein The Growler editorial staff look back on a recent remarkable beverage. What are you drinking, Growler Nation? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
After a rainy start, Memorial Day weekend ended with a warm, sunny beer-drinking kind of day—and The Growler team took full advantage. Here’s our list of beers that stuck with us from the weekend and that we’ll be sipping for some time.
Blacklist Artisan Ales Makrut Wit – Ellen Burkhardt, Associate Editor
Belgian Wit with Makrut lime leaves, 8% ABV, available spring and summer
Blacklist Artisan Ales likes to say they make “special occasion beer,” and their Makrut Wit is the perfect reflection of that sentiment. The Belgian witbier (wheat beer) is highly drinkable—light, buoyant, balanced—but also notably complex. Brewed with coriander, orange peel, and Makrut lime leaves, which impart a hard-to-describe floral/citrus/earthy element, it’s summery and refreshing, intricate and fulfilling. When the weather gets hot and humid, skip laboring over dessert and pour everyone a glass of this instead. It’ll make any occasion a special one, guaranteed.
Finnegans Freckled Rooster – Brian Kaufenberg, Managing Editor
Limited-release French-style Ale, 5.8% ABV, available summer
Finnegans may be known for its beer offerings inspired by the Emerald Isle, but they are traversing new territory with their newest summer seasonal, Freckled Rooster, released this May. Though Finnegans calls Freckled Rooster a “bière blanc” in the Alsace style, it’s most akin to a French farmhouse saison—full of pepper and spice, bright acidity, and a fruity yeast character. The bone-dry effervescence brings it close to a French biére de Champagne. Whatever style it is and wherever it hails from, I know where Freckled Rooster will be found this June—in a cooler full of ice on my patio.
Evil Twin Retro IPA – John Garland, Senior Editor
1985-style IPA, 6.0% ABV, rotating availability
Before the wheat beers of summer are hitting the shelves, but I’m still in spring IPA mode. Lately, the Evil Twin Retro IPA has been exactly what the weather prescribes. It’s the companion beer to their Modern IPA, both newly introduced by Evil Twin as year-round canned offerings. It’s a pale gold color with citrus and a little corn on the aroma. That same cereal grain flavor starts the sip before turning dry, orange, and bitter. I’m not exactly sure what’s “retro” about this beer—they say they’ve “recreated a 1985 style IPA” that’s “infused with everything you loved about the 80s.” I’ll go ahead and not care what that means, and just enjoy this tasty, balanced IPA.
Schell’s Hefeweizen – Keith Grauman, Web Editor
Bavarian style wheat ale, 4.75% ABV, available summer
On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend I found myself in my garage drinking a Schell’s Hefeweizen while brewing an American wheat. While I went new-school with my late hop additions (Huell Melon), used a cleaner-finishing yeast than a traditional German hefe yeast, and added fresh strawberries and rhubarb to the fermenter about 24 hours in, it was nice to have a Schell’s in my hand to provide a steadfast reminder of an uber traditional German wheat ale.
Schell’s Hefeweizen is not new. It’s not a limited release, barrel-aged, dry hopped, or infused. You don’t need to sneak out of work a half hour early to find at your local liquor store. And that’s precisely why I love it.
According to Schell’s website, they first brewed this beer in the very same year I was born, so they’ve had 32 years to perfect it. And perfect it they have. Ripe with the traditional banana and clove flavors and bready malt backbone you’d expect from the style, when the first sixer finds its way into my fridge each year, that’s when summer officially begins for me.
Peaks and Prairies Belgian Ale – Joseph Alton, Editor-In-Chief
Oak-aged Belgian Ale from Lift Bridge and Odell with peaches and cardamom, 6% ABV, available June 2016 at Taps & Tables locations
The Growler crew was lucky enough to join Minnesota’s own Lift Bridge Brewing Company on a trip to Colorado this past March to brew a collaboration beer with Fort Collins’ Odell Brewing Company. The beer will be featured as part of the Taps & Tables campaign this June, but we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek this week at St. Paul’s Salt Cellar as they kicked off the campaign.
Peaks and Prairies is a Belgian ale that would probably fall somewhere near a Belgian Golden Strong in style category. Brewed with a several different malt varieties, and a little wheat for added mouthfeel, Peaks and Prairies was concocted to resemble a peach cobbler in flavor profile. The goal was to feature fresh peach and cardamom without overwhelming the subtle citrus and orange notes of the Amarillo hops.
The result is a fine example of a “food beer.” The aroma is slightly tropical and citrusy, but presents subdued spice from the cardamom and some familiar Belgian yeastiness. The beer drinks smooth and slightly sweet, but finishes nice and dry with very little alcohol evident in the aftertaste.
Yes, we’re biased, we were in the brewhouse the day this beer was brewed, but we’re pretty sure you’ll be just as pleased as we are with how it turned out.