How to taste beer like a pro
If you’ve come across my Twitter feed lately, you already know I’ve had some superb beers from multiple sources. I encourage you to give some or all of these a try:
Denali Pale Ale, New Helvetia: The folks at New Helvetia were excited about these experimental (and proprietary) Denali hops and brewed a terrific pale ale with a personality that stands out from the crowd. The pineapple, pine and citrus notes are distinctive, and the bitterness on the finish is smooth and pleasing.
Owari Satsuma IPA, New Helvetia: Here’s a beer infused with organic mandarins from Rio Linda. It’s seasonal, subtle and, unlike a lot of IPAs, potentially great paired with food.
The Bridge Saison, Mraz Brewing: There are lots of saisons out there. This one is the best I’ve had in recent memory. Wonderfully fruit-forward with a pleasing dry finish and an overall elegance that whisked me away to a rustic Belgium pub.
Citramento IPA, Device: Integral West Coast-stye IPA is one of the best around, but you can’t rest on your laurels in today’s craft beer market. Device dabbled in the haze craze, put some in four-packs of cans and sold out in mere hours. Watch for the next hazy foray in late February, when Device and Track 7 team up for a collaboration can release – just in time for Sacramento Beer Week.
Mandarin Coconut Gose, New Glory: OK, so I really like mandarins! I’m not surprised New Glory did something really cool with mandarins – creating another small-batch offering sold in four-pack cans and on tap at the brewery. The traditional gose (pronounced goze-uh) is tart and flavored with salt and coriander. Kicking it up a notch and creating an exciting new beer is why everyone is talking about New Glory.
Flippin’ Good Pancake Brown Ale, New Glory: This one came out in cans a couple of weeks earlier and I loved it. The name is very accurate – it’s like drinking a stack of pancakes flavored with adult maple syrup.
Darkman Amber Ale with Mandarins, Twelve Rounds: This East Sacramento brewery has developed a devoted following and continues to grow. The flavor profile and the touch of sweetness are great foundations for this local citrus. If you think you have Twelve Rounds pegged, think again. The brewery continues to up its barrel-aging program and is days away from releasing its own take on the Northeast-style hazy IPA.
Zulu Haze IPA, Moonraker: It was a few weeks ago that I named Moonraker’s Yojo IPA the “Beer of the Year.” It’s hard to argue. Just look at all the other breweries making hazy beer. Brewmaster Zack Frasher was the first in the Sacramento region. Now he’s creating all kinds of other cool hazy beers, and the Auburn tasting room is almost always packed. Zulu is the latest, and while it doesn’t quite have the extraordinary juicy body of Yojo, I got lots of big melon and guava flavor notes in a beer that once again finishes with little to no bitterness.
Simcoe Crush Pale Ale, Moonraker: When I spoke with Frasher at the end of 2016, he was poised to launch a single-hop series of beers. Here’s one of them. The Simcoe hop is very influential, found in scores of top beers, including Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and Hoptologist from Knee Deep, which is walking distance from Moonraker. This hazy pale ale is so very inviting. For my palate, I got lots of piney and apricot flavors and it was great paired with a delicious veggie wrap from the Lamb and the Wolf, a food trailer parked out back serving Greek/Mediterranean food.