Welcome back to What We’re Drinking, 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.
Castle Danger Brewery George Hunter Stout, John Garland, Senior Editor
One could make the case that Castle Danger Brewery makes the best seasonal-release beer in the state. Their game is especially strong at the end of the year, when Red Hop Rising and Mosaic Fresh Hop hit shelves in the fall, setting the stage for a winter release of my favorite stout in the state, George Hunter. A deep aroma of caramel and espresso leads to a full bodied expression of ultra-smooth roasted coffee and cocoa nibs. If you’re around the North Shore, stop into their Two Harbors taproom to try the George Hunter variations aged in bourbon and red wine barrels.
Bemidji Brewing Double Porter 2015, Brian Kaufenberg, Managing Editor
There are days in Minnesota where it’s just too cold to make a trip to the bottle shop when the beer supply in the refrigerator runs dry. On such sub-zero days, instead of bundling up, scraping an icy windshield, and praying the engine turns over, it’s better to just dip into the beer stash in the cellar. And if there was ever a beer that was made for such a day, it’s Bemidji’s Double Porter. The 2015 version has aged well this past year. What little alcohol heat was present to begin with has faded to obscurity leaving behind a lush, full-bodied, pitch black porter rich in raisin, chocolate, and roasted barley flavors. Packaged in 750-milliliter bottles and clocking in at over eight percent ABV, one bottle is all you’ll need to survive a cold winter night.
F-Town Brewing Mocha Stout, Kate Murphy, Editorial Assistant
A strong cup of joe is my prerequisite start to the day, so why not end the night with a bit of caffeination, too? Hello, Mocha Stout. Pouring a rich cocoa hue, robust dark roast coffee aromatics and flavors are immediately apparent, but its smooth carbonation creates a silky mouthfeel, easing into a mellow chocolatey sweetness to sneak in balance. Touches of mild bitterness pop up to ornament the profile, lending to an enjoyable grip to the finish. By highlighting a “Faribault-made” focus, F-Town Brewing teamed up with Faribault Woolen Mill to wrap the can of the seasonal in an iconic pattern of one of the historic mill’s cozy blankets. Roasty and toasty, this light stout makes this coffee addict one happy lady.
Bank Brewing Hop Lab Pink, Keith Grauman, Web Editor
Step back in time with me to high school. You walk into the after-school science club but instead of the pocket-protector, taped-glasses crowd, the club’s ranks are made up of the star quarterback, prom queen, and the rest of the popular kids. Welcome to Bank Brewing’s “Hop Lab” series. Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, El Dorado—all the cool kids are here. The series has included mostly single-hopped beers that showcase the hops’ individual characteristics against simple malt bills of two-row barley and caramalt. The current Hop Lab Pink uses exclusively Mosaic and bursts with flavors of tropical fruit, lime, and—for me at least—purple Jolly Ranchers, all while remaining well-balanced and relatively low on bitterness.
Fulton Brewing Culture Project No. One, Joseph Alton, Editor In Chief
Fulton head brewer and co-owner Mike Salo really doesn’t like the term “sour beer.” The term is limiting for a broad style of beers that deserve to be appreciated without the preconceived notions that “sour” may instill. Understanding the need for some frame of reference, Fulton aptly describes Culture Project No. One as a “tart red ale inspired by the Flemish tradition.” The beer, brewed with a diverse malt bill and saison yeast, was aged for about a year in cabernet barrels. The result is a delicately balanced, bright, refreshing take on a traditional red ale. Fruity, and with a whiff of barnyard funk on the nose, the most predominant flavors are a heavy dose of ripe cherry and some complex stone fruit. It drinks juicy, but finishes very dry with a bright, green apple tartness. As Mikey Salo says, “Drink it, think about it, enjoy it.”