What to expect in 2018? ... Continued
Here are some more trends to look forward to in beer this year. After spending some time in Florida last month, I found many of the draft lists at the breweries reflect some fun and exciting ideas like the ones below.
Distilleries and wineries have been doing this for a long time, as have many Belgian breweries. The art of blending beers have allowed names like Cantillon, Drie Fontinen, Rodenbach, and Tilquin to stand out amongst stateside fans of traditional Belgian sour styles like Geueze, Flander Red, and Fruited Lambics. Firestone Walker out west has been releasing high gravity blended beers as part of their Anniversary series since 2006. Vermont’s Hill Farmstead has been releasing Belgian-inspired blends in their Civil Disobedience series using threads of different farmhouse ales. With the increase of barrel aging, brewers are realizing that different barrels produce different results. Spontaneous fermentation is not an exact science, and blending allows a sharp flavors to be cut. Even the Porter style originally was thought to be a blend of fresh and old ales respectively. Look for more breweries releasing blended beers, including regional/local breweries such as Allagash, Suarez, Hudson Valley, Shmaltz, Backacre, & a new Syracuse brewery to keep an eye on called Buried Acorn.
Coffee and Tea
Cold Brew coffee has become popular in its own right, but coffee beer is looking to be for 2018 what the fruited IPA was to 2016 and what kettle soured beers (Gose & Berliner Weiss styles) were in popularity and growth last year. Many stouts and porters already have coffee-like notes from the roasted malts used in brewing. Does the coffee counteract the depressant properties of the alcohol? The answer is not much, but the flavor of coffee has imparted some wonderful flavors on many different styles. Carton in New Jersey annually releases a 12% imperial cream ale brewed with coffee, Mikkeller brews a Raspberry Berliner Weisse with 2nd Craft Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Ethiopian Coffee, and there is even a Scotch Ale brewed with coffee available from Empire Brewery called Daily Grind. Tea is following the same pattern, but the more delicate flavor of tea is being used in lighter beers. Consider Hill Farmstead Works of Love Earl Grey, a blond ale brewed with earl grey tea or Finback Mochi IPA, brewed with green tea and strawberries. Both beers have a simple malt bill to act as a clean canvas to let thru subtle notes from the tea. This sounds like some great reasons to have beer for breakfast and brunch too.
Both of these high gravity styles lend themselves to adjuncts. The roasty malt backbone and chewy mouthfeel of an imperial stout are a fine canvas for coffee, chocolate, fruits, or really anything. Platform in Cleveland brewed a stout with 40 boxes of Count Chocula added to the mash. Evil Twin release a version of their hazelnut imperial stout, Imperial Biscotti Break with Glazed Donuts. While in Tampa last week, I visited Angry Chair brewing and sampled a coffee and maple stout called woke, and a blonde barleywine brewed with coconut, marshmallow, and cocoa with was fantastic. Both weighed in at or over 10% but the alcohol was masked with layer upon layer of flavor, and it was heavy, thick and possessed the right amount of sweetness to confirm it is in the dessert beer category. If you are looking for something in this vein, check out our can cooler for Gun Hill’s Dessert Storm, a s’mores inspired imperial stout.
Enjoy that next pint, hope you made it to the Suarez Jamboree and hope you are as excited as I am about the collaboration brew the Ruck did at Chatham at the end of January. That and more next time.