What beer are you excited about right now? If you go to a pub that specializes in beer, that’s a great question to ask the person tending bar.
In the world of craft beer, the answer should change often. That’s what’s cool about beer – there are new, compelling options all the time.
So, I decided to ask a bunch of people in the beer business to give me their picks – not their all-time favorite brews and not the beers they think folks would like. I wanted to know the beers that have them excited today, and why.
There’s something here for everyone, from big and bold high-alcohol beers to low-alcohol session beers. I’m not including the prices here, since they depend on where you’re shopping. If “barrel” or “sour” is in the name or description, expect it to be pricy (and worth it).
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Todd Fancher, beer buyer at Corti Brothers: Apple Brandy Barrel Noir (12 percent alcohol by volume), Prairie Artisan Ales
“The nose on it is amazing. You get tons of Green Delicious apples covered in caramel, along with notes of vanilla and chocolate. It’s one of the best noses I’ve had on a beer. You get all those flavor profiles, then the rum note hits it at the very end. It’s so balanced and complex.”
▪ Saison Je’, Mraz Brewing: “That one is top-notch. There’s just so much going on. The brett gives it that wild, earthy texture. There are so many flavor profiles going on. It’s an amazing saison I would put up against anybody’s.”
Rob Archie, owner, Pangaea Bier Cafe: The Kimmie, the Yink, & the Holy Gose (4.2 percent), Anderson Valley Brewing
“This is my session beer for the summer. It’s in a can, low alcohol, fairly dry. I’ve found it to be very sessionable.”
▪ Sourrento (7.7 percent), The Bruery: “It’s just Italy straight up – the nose on it. It reminds me of driving through Sorrento and seeing these grapefruit-sized lemons.”
Ken Hotchkiss, owner, Capitol Beer & Taproom: Integral IPA (7 percent), Device Brewing
“They just started bottling it and it’s flying off the shelves here. It’s a solid IPA and for Device to be able to get further distribution for its beer is going to be great for the Sacramento beer scene.”
▪ Diddly Flanders, Sudwerk Brewing: “It’s nice to have a local brewery doing such great stuff in the barrel-aging program. It’s a nice tart Flanders red that’s locally made.”
Buzz Crouch, co-owner, New Moon Cafe (Nevada City): Blanche de Bruxelles (4.5 percent), Brasserie Lefebvre
“The higher alcohol beers are not as exciting to me as they used to be. This is a witbier. I love Belgian ales because they have so much complexity to them.”
▪ California Dry Hop Lager (5 percent), Sudwerk Brewing: “It’s light, refreshing and crisp.”
Jason Mussetter, general manager, Mussetter Distributing: Deception (4.5 percent), Black Market Brewing
“It’s a blonde ale with coconut and lime. I love IPAs. I love sours. But you have so many people who haven’t tried craft beer, and this is a beer that I think gets them into the category.”
▪ Tunnel Vision (6.8 percent), Maverick’s Brewing: “This is an IPA that’s hard to classify. It’s 6.8 percent, but it’s over 100 IBUs. It’s a take on a big West Coast session IPA. It’s definitely for hop heads.”
Colby Pettenger, owner, Hot City Pizza: 2 Hop Pale (5.8 percent), Faction Brewing
“The 2 Hop Series is really good. Every batch they change the hops, so the recipe is the same and the two hops are different. It keeps it fresh and interesting.”
▪ Shelter IPA (6.8 percent), Altamont Beer Works: “Pretty much anything Altamont is doing is great. … The IPA is one of those really, really well done ones.”
Pairing with food
Many of the best local breweries don’t serve food, so they invite food trucks to do the cooking. Often, the chefs in the trucks are mindful of the beer being served when they create special dishes, which can make for some terrific on-site beer pairings.
Now, thanks to the phone app and website Beers in Sac, we’ll get a glimpse of which food trucks are doing it best. The Fantasy Food Truck Showdown is a bracket-style competition in which the six competing food trucks are provided with a secret ingredient and then have to prepare a dish that pairs with the beer at the host brewery. The competition starts May 7 from 5-8p.m. at Track 7 Brewing (Natomas) and continues on the first Thursday each month through August. The other host breweries are New Glory, Out of Bounds and Yolo Brewing. If you want to get in on the action, you can buy a food truck pass that gets you six small plates and a beer.
The trucks vying for the title are One Soul, Cali Love, Brunch Boys, Gyro Stop, Culinerdy Cruzer and Mama Kim.
Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.