How We Taste & Test

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Spiced Golden & Blonde Ales -

Re­view­ing beer may sound like a dream job, but our tast­ing and re­view panel takes the role se­ri­ously. Com­posed en­tirely of Beer Judge Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Pro­gram (BJCP) judges who have all stud­ied, trained, and been tested on their abil­ity to dis­cern char­ac­ter­is­tics in beer, our panel is in­de­pen­dent and doesn’t in­clude any CB&B edi­tors or staff. The panel tastes all beer blindly— they do not know what brands and beers they are tast­ing un­til the tast­ing is com­plete.

Our goal is to in­form you about the strengths and weak­nesses of th­ese beers as well as their rel­a­tive dif­fer­ences (not ev­ery­one has the same taste in beer, so ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tors are more valu­able than straight nu­mer­i­cal val­ues). The quotes you see are com­piled from the re­view panel’s score sheets to give you a well-rounded pic­ture of the beer.

As our re­view­ers judge, they score based on the stan­dard BJCP com­po­nents: Aroma (max 12 points), Ap­pear­ance (max 3 points), Fla­vor (max 20 points), Mouth­feel (max 5 points), and Over­all Im­pres­sion (max 10 points). We’ve listed th­ese in­di­vid­ual com­po­nent scores, and the bot­tom-line num­ber is de­rived from adding then dou­bling th­ese com­po­nent scores to pro­duce a rat­ing on a 100-point scale. Note that we’ve rounded the printed com­po­nent scores to the near­est whole num­ber, so the math won’t nec­es­sar­ily add up.

Our judges use the fol­low­ing scale in valu­ing scores:

95–100 » Ex­tra­or­di­nary World-class beers of su­perla­tive char­ac­ter and flaw­less ex­e­cu­tion 90–94 » Ex­cep­tional Dis­tin­guished beers with spe­cial char­ac­ter, style, and fla­vor 85–89 » Very good Well-crafted beers with note­wor­thy fla­vor and style 80–84 » Good Solid, qual­ity, en­joy­able beers 75–79 » Above Av­er­age Drink­able and sat­is­fac­tory beers with mi­nor flaws or style de­vi­a­tions 70–74 » Av­er­age 50–69 » Not rec­om­mended We’d like for you to keep one thing in mind as you read th­ese re­views—your per­cep­tion of a beer is more im­por­tant than that of our re­view panel or ed­i­to­rial staff, and read­ing re­views in a mag­a­zine (or on the Web or in a book) is no sub­sti­tute for try­ing the beer your­self. LOC: Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia ABV: 4.4% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Golden State of Mind is a unique cre­ation. We have called it a “Cal­i­for­nia Tea Beer” due to its con­struc­tion us­ing lo­cal Cal­i­for­nia in­gre­di­ents, from the oats, bar­ley, and wheat to the fresh co­rian­der, chamomile, and sweet or­ange peel. Golden State of Mind is also a gruit—mean­ing it is made with­out hops.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Light cit­rus with an her­bal spici­ness and light honey sweet­ness. Low rice and vanilla aro­mas as it starts to warm. The her­bal tea notes come through as well with light pear, plum, and a touch of cin­na­mon.” Fla­vor: “Light and crisp. Mod­er­ate her­bal fla­vor with light bit­ter­ness to­ward the end. Low spici­ness mixes with the car­bon­a­tion, which cre­ates a light bite at the end.a very del­i­cate malt char­ac­ter is al­most hid­den by the fruity/flo­ral char­ac­ter.” Over­all: “Re­fresh­ing and crisp beer with mod­er­ate her­bal and tea fla­vors, light cit­rus, and a medium car­bonic bite at the end of the sip. Tastes like a grown-up ver­sion of sun tea. Great for non-beer drinkers.” LOC: Dal­las, Texas ABV: 4.8% | IBUS: 8 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Dance to an un­fa­mil­iar tune with our sum­mer ale with hibis­cus, le­mon peel, and chamomile flow­ers.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Le­mon, or­ange peel, and hibis­cus with a light yo­gurt-like tart­ness. Some caramel and light toasty malt thrown in for good mea­sure.” Fla­vor: “Mod­er­ate spici­ness with mild or­ange, le­mon, and cherry fruiti­ness. Hints of lemon­grass and a sub­tle, flo­ral, chamomile that com­ple­ments the hibis­cus. Slightly sweet but clean malt bill with just enough hops to bal­ance. Mod­er­ate car­bonic bite at the end, but fin­ishes tart and dry.” Over­all: “Re­fresh­ing and thirstquench­ing, this beer does a nice job keep­ing the flo­ral ad­di­tions sub­tle. It would be easy to overdo this.”

LOC: Tur­lock, Cal­i­for­nia ABV: 4.5% | IBUS: 10 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“A crisp, re­fresh­ing blonde ale per­fect for our Cal­i­for­nia cli­mate. An ad­di­tion of vanilla beans to the fin­ished beer gives this rel­a­tively sweet ale a mild vanilla aroma and fla­vor rem­i­nis­cent of cream soda.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Get­ting more oak char­ac­ter than ac­tual vanilla on the nose, which is good be­cause vanilla can be over­whelm­ing. Warm­ing, it set­tles with a touch of malt sweet­ness, bis­cuit malt, brown sugar, and light flo­ral hop.” Fla­vor: “Sim­ple: beer, vanilla. They’re both there, but they don’t play to­gether much at all. Light earthy hops, mild bit­ter­ness, some clean malt. There’s ox­i­da­tion, too, but might be an ex­tra dose of the vanilla char­ac­ter. Fairly big bit­ter­ness in the tail end.” Over­all: “The base recipe for this beer is not nec­es­sar­ily up to the chal­lenge of sup­port­ing the strong fla­vors they’ve added, and the ad­di­tion of vanilla makes the beer mud­dled and a bit disjointed.”

LOC: Cincin­nati, Ohio ABV: 4.7% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Aged in Wa­ter­shed Bour­bon Bar­rel Gin bar­rels with ju­niper ber­ries and ginger, this re­fresh­ingly tart beer takes a break from the tra­di­tional bour­bon-bar­rel beers, lift­ing it to an­other level.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Gin bar­rel comes out up front with some spicy al­most pep­pery ginger and ju­niper be­hind it. Very her­bal with a pine and tea-like char­ac­ter. Some bready crust and wild­flower honey.” Fla­vor: “There’s an al­most le­mon-lime soda char­ac­ter to this beer. The gin bar­rel, gives an her­bal—es­pe­cially ginger — fla­vor that comes through strong. The base beer is a bit over­whelmed, but there are pleas­ing cit­rus notes, and it fin­ishes very dry and slightly boozy.” Over­all: “The bar­rel and spices are used very well. It’s com­plex her­bal with­out be­ing medic­i­nal and still be­ing very drink­able. The heavy spice fla­vor ad­di­tions push past any no­tion of base beer style, but the spic­ing is deftly han­dled for such a light-bod­ied beer, and it’s still re­fresh­ing and in­ter­est­ing.” LOC: At­lanta, Ge­or­gia ABV: 7.5% | IBUS: 27 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“A trip up Bu­ford High­way in­spired Tel­luride Brew­ing’s Chris Fish and Sweet­wa­ter’s Nick Nock to ex­per­i­ment with wasabi—added to a blonde ale. This is a beer to share with friends and ex­per­i­ment with—try pair­ing it with sushi, ginger, Ja­panese noo­dle dishes, or just some grilled chicken.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “A lit­tle yeasty, along with some mild fruity es­ters. Wasabi is fairly strong but not hot. Big piney hops, light crisp cold­ness, a touch of spicy tin­gle in the nose.” Fla­vor: “This beer hits with some com­plex­ity, and wasabi emerges mid­way through the sip and car­ries through the fin­ish. It also adds some veg­etable-like green notes. Earthy piney hops fla­vor with mod­er­ate bit­ter back­ing. Good malt sweet­ness. Some cit­rus notes from hops. Sim­i­lar yeast­i­ness.” Over­all: “In­ter­est­ing beer; the more I drank it the more I en­joyed it. How­ever, the com­plex­ity of the hops, the base beer, and the wasabi were a bit mud­dled, and the fla­vor didn’t live up to the nose.” LOC: Copen­hagen, Den­mark ABV: 6% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“This is truly a beau­ti­ful brown ale boosted with a de­light­ful aroma of cit­rus, spice, and gourmet Keini, Kenya Beans from The Cof­fee Col­lec­tive, Copen­hagen.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Cof­fee and su­per piney and her­bal hops with toasty and nutty malt be­hind it. Deeper into it, there’s a grassy/pa­per-like note akin to fresh dry hop­ping.” Fla­vor: “Stale cof­fee, cig­a­rette ash­tray, and lots of piney resinous hops. Toast, caramel, malt are in the mix, but the bit­ter­ness is out of bal­ance, al­most acrid (al­most cer­tainly the cof­fee). Clas­sic pine and resin fla­vors ap­pear with a last­ing bit­ter fin­ish. Brac­ingly hop bit­ter­ness for what is os­ten­si­bly a brown ale.” Over­all: “The cof­fee and hops clash in the aroma and in the bit­ter­ness so that it comes across as harsh and as­trin­gent. The piney hops and cof­fee in the aroma are con­fus­ing. Re­minds me of a ho­tel room that some­one smoked in, with a bas­ket of wet laun­dry left out overnight.”

LOC: Gainesville, Florida ABV: 6% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Spruce Tip Am­ber.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Peachie-o can­dies, apri­cot, red berry, cherry, and a hint of brown sugar. A grassy hops aroma, with a light peach fruit as­pect and a bit of tart­ness add great com­plex­ity.” Fla­vor: “There’s a strong im­pres­sion of sweet­ness, but over­all the beer isn’t very sweet even up front. Huge ester bomb with notes of rasp­berry, peach, hon­ey­dew, straw­berry, plum. Th­ese all blend well with the medium toast malt. Bit­ter­ness opens up a light piney char­ac­ter to con­firm that it ac­tu­ally is fla­vored with a tree.” Over­all: “The bit­ter­ness might be a touch high, but it re­ally helps bring things to­gether. The ad­di­tions are bal­anced well with the un­der­ly­ing beer and with the hops char­ac­ter; a crazy and in­trigu­ing com­plex­ity to what could have been a sim­ple and straight­for­ward beer.”

LOC: Pe­taluma, Cal­i­for­nia ABV: 6% | IBUS: 49 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Indigo Pale Ale is a fresh ap­proach to a tra­di­tional style in which blue agave nec­tar cre­ates a unique malt pro­file, one that is com­ple­mented by a man­darin/woodsy hops char­ac­ter de­rived from the sin­gle ex­per­i­men­tal hop, ADHA 484.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Very del­i­cate nose. There’s not a lot to work with. There’s pleas­ant trop­i­cal mango fruiti­ness and a touch of pine plus a very light her­bal note that is prob­a­bly agave.” Fla­vor: “It’s a pale ale, all right. Earthy, slightly woody hops fla­vor with an her­bal edge that could be agave, but it’s not easy to iden­tify. It does linger into the fin­ish.” Over­all: “Some­what one di­men­sional flo­ral char­ac­ter through­out. And although noth­ing is wrong with the beer, noth­ing re­ally stands out. That said, we’d still drink a ton of this.”

What the brewer says

N/A LOC: Juneau. Alaska ABV: 7% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What our panel thought

Aroma: “There are rasp­berry and straw­berry es­ters from the spruce tips. But this is very clean and rich, with cit­rus and grass.” Fla­vor: “Huge berry char­ac­ter that in­te­grates well with a clean IPA base beer. The hops char­ac­ter is fairly re­strained, but the bit­ter­ness plays well off of the sweet­ness from the berry es­ters. There’s lots of spruce, like rub­bing a Christ­mas tree. The fin­ish is fairly bit­ter and lingers. It’s a bit like putting an en­tire roll of Life Savers candy in your mouth at once—all of them. The touch of candy sweet­ness is un­ex­pected, but the brac­ing pine tree bit­ter­ness keeps it from cloy­ing.” Over­all: “A well-made IPA that show­cases the jekyll and hyde na­ture of spruce tips while al­low­ing the base beer to demon­strate the qual­ity of the brew­ing process. A very fun beer with an end­lessly fas­ci­nat­ing in­gre­di­ent.” LOC: San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia ABV: 57% | IBUS: 70 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“This beer be­gan as a crazy ex­per­i­ment. While its bright fruit notes and hoppy bite have made the orig­i­nal one of our fa­vorites, this ver­sion takes that bal­ance of fla­vors to the next level with the cit­rusy, flo­ral heat of ha­baneros.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Aroma is light over­all with a mod­er­ate amount of an­cho chile pep­per aroma. There’s some cit­rus light pine and grassy hops be­hind that.” Fla­vor: “Chile pep­per is a bit more ap­par­ent in the fla­vor with grassy, her­bal, and slight piney hops. Maybe a bit of cit­rus. There’s a fair amount of heat, which masks a lot of the fla­vor, but there’s a malt back­bone sup­port­ing it. Tastes like Ana­heim and jalepeño chiles with some peach and or­ange char­ac­ter from the hops. Clean beer be­neath with bit­ter­ness that com­ple­ments the heat.” Over­all: “Fairly hot but not a ton of char­ac­ter in the aroma or fla­vor be­sides that. Okay if you like spicy things, but I would like more fla­vor to match. The base beer is crisp and clean, which pairs well with the heat. It’s prob­a­bly good that it’s not hop­pier; that would prob­a­bly just end up clash­ing.” LOC: Den­ver, Colorado ABV: 6.6% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Co­conut IPA.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Pineap­ple and mango, with tan­ger­ine and al­most a hint of vanilla. The co­conut slides in, al­most by men­tal as­so­ci­a­tion, but it pro­vides a steady bass note to the hops nose. Rich and trop­i­cal.” Fla­vor: “Co­conut is present with­out be­ing over­whelm­ing. Trop­i­cal hops— pineap­ple, or­ange, le­mon, and a touch of straw­berry—sup­port nicely. Mod­er­ately sweet with mod­er­ately low bit­ter­ness for an IPA, but it’s ap­pro­pri­ate given the trop­i­cal goal. Co­conut char­ac­ter doesn’t overdo it or push into sun­tan lo­tion ter­ri­tory. The trop­i­cal fruit hops char­ac­ter with the sub­tle co­conut of­fer an en­joy­able com­bi­na­tion that doesn’t feel heavy-handed or forced.” Over­all: “Great trop­i­cal char­ac­ter and bal­ance—rich and com­plex from the aroma through the lin­ger­ing fin­ish. Maybe a bit sweet for an IPA, but that doesn’t over­whelm or de­tract. Very tasty beer over­all.”

LOC: Chicago, Illi­nois ABV: 5.5% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Amer­i­can pale ale with Cash­mere and El Do­rado hops. This sea­sonal was last canned on May 16, 2017, and should have trop­i­cal pineap­ple and co­conut fla­vors.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “There’s a light trop­i­cal aroma mixed with a light or­ange and bready malt. Aroma is over­all a bit low. Co­conut starts to come out a bit as it warms. Al­most like an am­brosia salad.” Fla­vor: “Huge co­conut in the fla­vor with man­darin or­ange and le­mon. The co­conut adds an al­most creamy char­ac­ter. The sim­ple, hoppy na­ture of the beer is pretty dry and pro­vides a nice coun­ter­point to the toasted co­conut with­out clash­ing. Ap­pro­pri­ate bit­ter­ness and good hops se­lec­tion. Tastes a bit like a daiquiri, with just a hint of sour milk acid­ity to keep it from be­ing too sweet.” Over­all: “In­ter­est­ing that the co­conut is fairly sub­tle in the aroma but re­ally strong in the fla­vor. Great trop­i­cal hops char­ac­ter bal­anced with the co­conut ad­di­tions. Sub­tle to where you won­der what the point was of adding co­conut, but en­joy­able nonethe­less.” LOC: Fram­ing­ham, Mas­sachusetts ABV: 5.4% | IBUS: 50 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Spill The Tea is an aro­matic In­dia pale lager brewed with green tea and le­mon, or­ange and grape­fruit peel. A com­bi­na­tion of Ci­tra and Mo­saic hops pairs well with the ex­tra cit­rus, and the green tea gives this brew a dry­ing, as­trin­gent fin­ish. Brewed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Fin­back Brew­ery, Queens, New York.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Big time dank aroma with a lot of un­der­ly­ing cit­rus com­plex­ity. Tan­ger­ine, grape­fruit, le­mon, white grape, flow­ers, plus a touch of her­bal or­ange and stone fruit.” Fla­vor: “Lots of dank, lots of tan­ger­ine. There’s a slight berry thing also, much the same as the aroma. The bal­ance is great with medium-high bit­ter­ness and some low-medium pithy char­ac­ter that com­ple­ments things well. The tea qual­ity adds some nice earth­i­ness on the swal­low. The beer back­bone is crisp and presents a great can­vas for the other fla­vors.” Over­all: “Very hops for­ward, but easy drink­ing and well-bal­anced. Loses some def­i­ni­tion in the fin­ish, but not enough so to dis­cour­age an­other sip.” LOC: Fort Collins, Colorado ABV: 5.5% | IBUS:35A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Crisp and clean pale ale in­fused with a pow­er­ful dose of fresh, lo­cally roasted cof­fee.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Lots and lots of cof­fee. Oily and thick, with plenty of dark roast depth as well as a dis­tinct green pep­per smell. Mild caramel sweet­ness, not much in the way of hops char­ac­ter.” Fla­vor: “Lots of cof­fee and lit­tle beer—this beer re­ally is about cof­fee, first and fore­most. There’s a slight choco­late char­ac­ter with nice caramel and toast notes if you go dig­ging for them. The fin­ish has hints of vanilla, could prob­a­bly stand to be a bit more bit­ter. Hops se­lec­tion worked well to high­light the pos­i­tive com­plex­ity of cof­fee’s green pep­per fla­vors.” Over­all: “It’s a com­plete cof­fee bomb, and if that’s your thing, cool. The base beer is over­shad­owed, so just be ready for all cof­fee, all the time.”

LOC: Her­shey, Penn­syl­va­niat ABV: 6.2% | IBUS: 52 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“It’s sum­mer­time. Hop bines are grow­ing up to 6 inches a day. Hibis­cus is in full bloom. And in Crim­son Pis­til, the two get in a glo­ri­ous tan­gle of berry­like tangi­ness, sun­set tech­ni­color, and sticky trop­i­cal notes.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Dank and cit­rus hops with rasp­berry and cran­berry whiffs from the hibis­cus. A bit of le­mon and grape­fruit too, along with a hint of black pep­per.” Fla­vor: “The cran­berry and rasp­berry notes from the hibis­cus come out more in the fla­vor with le­mon cit­rus and grassy be­hind it. It’s a well-bal­anced IPA with just enough bit­ter­ness to round out the malt. Spice beers rou­tinely overdo it on the spice, but this one felt re­strained, like they could have gone fur­ther but played it safe in a en­joy­ably bal­anced way.” Over­all: “The hibis­cus and hops play nicely to­gether with a cit­rus and grassy char­ac­ter com­bined with red fruit notes. A fun beer, and the color is fan­tas­tic.”

LOC: Boonville, Cal­i­for­nia ABV: 4.2% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Rem­i­nis­cent of a clas­sic cock­tail, our G&T Gose show­cases botan­i­cal fla­vors and aro­mas of le­mon peel, ju­niper, lemon­grass, and grains of par­adise. With a juicy le­mon-lime tart­ness and slightly pep­pery fin­ish, the gose style takes on a unique spin that we’re sure you’ll en­joy.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Fruity, but not of a spe­cific fruit—maybe blue­berry or lemon­grass. There’s a clean, slightly sour wheat aroma with mild vanilla.” Fla­vor: “Mod­er­ately sour and dry with pineap­ple, crusty bread, pep­per­corn, and lightly grassy. Well bal­anced be­tween tart and earthy. The brewer has gone pretty heavy on the salt, so there’s no mis­tak­ing this for any­thing other than a Gose.” Over­all: “A solid gose with a mild spici­ness and medium le­mon fla­vor, but any fruit added plays a sup­port­ing, back­ground role.” LOC: Boul­der, Colorado ABV: 6% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Ginger sour. Botan­i­cals & bar­rels bar­rel-aged sour ale with ginger. Ver­dant fresh ginger is rooted in ra­di­ant tart­ness, peak­ing in the un­mis­tak­able burst and bite of this bright bar­rel-aged sour ale.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Pump­kin pie–like aroma up front with mod­er­ate ginger, nut­meg, and light cin­na­mon. There’s mild le­mon and lemon­grass that adds a sweet candy un­der­tone with a bit of Pil­sner malt.” Fla­vor: “Lac­tic le­mon hits up front with a nice acid­ity. Freshly grated ginger paired up with le­mon zest: very Asian. Ginger per­sists from the ini­tial sip to the long fin­ish. The ginger is a lit­tle warm, but it’s still pleas­ant.” Over­all: “Wow! Quite tasty. Thanks to the bright ginger, the beer tastes fresh and bold. It has notes of the ginger it­self along with the ginger spice. This com­bi­na­tion goes well with the lac­tic tart­ness and le­mon notes. The base beer is bright and tightly de­fined, pro­vid­ing a beau­ti­ful frame for the well-con­sid­ered ginger spice.” LOC: Brus­sels, Bel­gium ABV: 5% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Two-year-old lam­bic in which el­der­berry flow­ers have been soaked. The char­ac­ter of the el­der­berry flow­ers lends this beer a very pro­nounced, but re­fresh­ing, flo­ral taste. The fra­grances and fla­vors of the el­der­berry flow­ers are very strong, so much so that we have to se­lect lam­bics with enough char­ac­ter to en­able us to strike the right bal­ance be­tween the beer and the flower.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Earthy, horse-blan­ket, com­plex bar­rel-aged sour with plenty of vanillin to add round­ness to the funky front. Del­i­cate white pep­per, gen­eral le­mon acid­ity, funk, and what comes across as a touch of smoked chile pep­per.” Fla­vor: “Mod­er­ate sour up front with a mild pep­per spici­ness that sneaks in. Pineap­ple and apri­cot notes with a slight le­mon bright­ness. Well bal­anced among wood, spice, tart, and earthy.” Over­all: “Fun and com­plex beer with many lay­ers. Sour in the front, spicy pep­per in the back. A well-bal­anced combo with a medium body and mild car­bon­a­tion to sup­port the fla­vors.”

What the brewer says

LOC: Den­ver, Colorado ABV: 7.2% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Ginger, le­mon, pep­per­corn, slight sul­fur, faint grassy hops, and fairly strong phe­no­lic fer­men­ta­tion qual­ity that re­minds me of a hippy camp­fire.” Fla­vor: “Com­plex spice notes of ginger and Szechuan pep­per­corn. Pithy, as­trin­gent fin­ish but not nec­es­sar­ily off putting. Some or­ange and straw­berry on the retronasal along with lemon­grass. There’s sharpish tart­ness that gives this one an edge, but the af­ter­taste is too spicy.” Over­all: “This is a fun farm­house ale with plenty of Brett and some le­mon and what tastes like ginger to round things out. Maybe a bit heavy on the spice, but a nice beer over­all. The spice char­ac­ter lingers and lingers deep into the af­ter­taste, re­mind­ing you of what you just drank.”

LOC: Til­lam­ook, Ore­gon ABV: 6% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“A farm­house wild ale aged in oak with black­ber­ries and rose­mary.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Full of dark berry and herbs. The fruit comes across as dark cherry, rasp­berry, maybe a hint of black­berry. The herb is clearly rose­mary and full, slightly smoky.” Fla­vor: “The fruit here is more cherry than black­berry but with­out the sweet­ness—this one tastes like it fully at­ten­u­ated. The rose­mary is rich. Mod­er­ately low sweet­ness with in­tense acid­ity. It’s a musty base sour, nicely done, and the lin­ger­ing resinous her­bal notes add depth.” Over­all: “Some might find the rose­mary a bit over the top, but the rose­mary is sur­pris­ingly bal­anced with the berry fla­vor. It’s an in­ter­est­ing and crazy drink­able beer, with a great fruit and herb combo that plays well with the base beer. While it’s dry, the ber­ries add a per­cep­tion of sweet­ness that soft­ens the im­pact with­out af­fect­ing drink­a­bil­ity. It’s good sip af­ter sip.” LOC: Den­ver, Colorado ABV: 6.2% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Straw­berry is the yin to rhubarb’s yang—the sweet to the tart. This beau­ti­ful part­ner­ship cre­ates a beer that glows ruby in the glass, bursts with straw­berry aroma, and bites with every sip.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Some­what sub­tle with light berry, cit­rus, le­mon, her­bal, and bready, but you have to dig for the es­ters from the straw­berry. Light caramel sweet­ness, and a lit­tle sweat-sock funk.” Fla­vor: “Sur­pris­ing! Clean straw­berry fla­vor with a light fol­low-up of rhubarb. Jolly Rancher candy notes and a medium hops bit­ter­ness that add un­der­ly­ing cit­rus and her­bal. The pie crust notes are ap­par­ent which makes sense given the in­gre­di­ents. Quite dry.” Over­all: “Well-ex­e­cuted over­all. Although a bit on the sweet side, the taste is ex­cel­lent. The rhubarb and straw­berry fla­vors come out well mixed with a medium caramel and malt body and mod­er­ate car­bon­a­tion.” LOC: Asheville, North Carolina ABV: 4.45% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Brett pale ale brewed with red roselle hibis­cus and aged for eleven months in French oak red wine bar­rels with

Bret­tanomyces and then bot­tle con­di­tioned. More funky than sour, lighter in color and hoppy.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Slight sweet and tart from the hibis­cus. A touch of Brett sim­i­lar to horse blan­ket with some spicy clove phe­nols, too. Mod­er­ate ba­nana es­ters and some vanilla.” Fla­vor: “Mod­er­ate tart­ness and car­bon­a­tion up front with hibis­cus and light sweet­ness. Mild hops bit­ter­ness that blends well with the leather and barn­yard Brett fla­vor. Mod­er­ate acid­ity, with a touch of bub­blegum.” Over­all: “Good Brett char­ac­ter with a mild sweet­ness and a big hibis­cus fla­vor that dominates at times. Good car­bon­a­tion lev­els for the style keeps the sweet­ness in check.” com­plex­ity LOC: Austin, Texas ABV: 6.8% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Our ef­fort to mimic the fla­vors of New Zealand sau­vi­gnon blanc in­volved tak­ing farm­house ale fer­mented in oak bar­rels with our mixed cul­ture of brew­ers yeast, na­tive yeast, and na­tive bac­te­ria, blend­ing the bar­rels, then adding dried el­der­flow­ers and Nel­son Sau­vin hops to the blend.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Pleas­ant pep­per­corn and flower with a touch of soap­i­ness. Peach and star fruit, cit­rusy, her­bal tea, and pear.” Fla­vor: “The flower char­ac­ter blends well with an al­most grape sweet­ness. Fla­vors of pear, peach, apri­cot, pas­sion fruit, lime, and light rasp­berry. Fin­ishes with a linger of lemon­grass, light sour, and hoppy spici­ness.” Over­all: “Lots of fun stone fruit and trop­i­cal aroma, which blends nicely with the sour. Although very acidic, it’s very well bal­anced over­all. Spici­ness and fla­vor of the hops pair well with the her­bal el­der­flower fla­vor. Sour tames a bit as it warms and comes in bal­ance with the hops and spices.”

LOC: Fort Collins, Colorado ABV: 5.1% | IBUS: 9 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Green Coy­ote Tomatillo Sour is our bright, crisp take on a clas­sic Ger­man- style Ber­liner weisse. A boun­ti­ful spring har­vest of tomatillo fruit cre­ates a slight sweet­ness and tangy bite, while sub­tle notes of kiwi, cu­cum­ber, and le­mon howl along­side tart­ness on the tongue.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Mod­er­ate tart­ness, lemon­grass, grape­fruit, light straw­berry, and caramel. Some un­de­fined spici­ness with whiffs of white grape and vanilla.” Fla­vor: “Medium sour­ness with big le­mon fla­vors sim­i­lar to lemon­ade with­out the sweet­ness. Pineap­ple, le­mon, and white grape and a slight pep­per phe­no­lic add com­plex­ity. An earthy funk adds in­ter­est to an other­wise light beer. You can tell it’s brewed with some sort of ket­tle sour­ing process, from the mild phe­no­lic com­po­nent.” Over­all: “Tasty Ber­liner that’s not overly sour and mostly cit­rus for­ward with a slight bite. There’s enough body to bal­ance the acid­ity. A sim­ple sum­mer slam­mer with a bit of an edge.” LOC: St. Louis, Mis­souri ABV: 4.2% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“A wave of trop­i­cal fruit and spice bright­ens this lively, tart wheat ale, tak­ing the Ger­man Ber­liner weisse tra­di­tion on an is­land run. Hopfen­tea, steeped on a house-made tea blend of dried mango, pa­paya, hibis­cus, and lemon­grass, pairs well with light ap­pe­tiz­ers, sal­ads, and high hu­mid­ity.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Cit­rus fruit up front with light le­mon and lime mixed with tea leaves, mango, pineap­ple plus a light spici­ness and low vanilla.” Fla­vor: “The le­mon lac­tic tart­ness of the Ber­liner hits with notes of mango and a lit­tle pineap­ple. The tea char­ac­ter pro­vides some earth­i­ness and com­plex­ity through­out the taste with big fruiti­ness of pome­gran­ate, blood or­ange, le­mon, and lime. Nice car­bon­a­tion. Re­fresh­ing through the fin­ish.” Over­all: “A lot of fun things go­ing on in this beer. The tea, fruit notes, and Ber­liner all added to the taste and led to a bal­ance be­tween tart­ness and fruiti­ness. Easy drink­ing and per­fect for sum­mer af­ter­noons out­doors.”

LOC: Berkeley, Cal­i­for­nia ABV: 5.8% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“A blend of golden sour beers aged in oak bar­rels with co­rian­der and sea salt. Fer­mented and soured with a med­ley of micro­organ­isms.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Bel­gium es­ters with light clove spici­ness, bub­blegum, salty le­mon, medium malt toast, and Brett.” Fla­vor: “Def­i­nitely rocks the gose thing. Le­mon tart­ness is mild but pleas­ant. Huge co­rian­der here, but doesn’t get all woody, sharp, or as­trin­gent the way that over­done co­rian­der can be. Tart fin­ish of­fers the strong­est bit of briny salt. Salt lingers from there, like a spicy mar­garita.” Over­all: “This beer has a lot of com­plex­ity that comes to­gether well. The sour lac­tic notes and acid­ity are in check with the sweet­ness and tart­ness. The tart­ness and sea salt play well to­gether, and I could see this be­ing served next to some salty chips and salsa. The per­fect beer for af­ter a long bike ride.” LOC: Den­ver, Colorado ABV: 6.9% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Golden sour ale with dan­de­lion, le­mon peel, and lemon­grass.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Lemon­grass aroma with light veg­etable notes. Light bready malt. Faint pep­pery phe­nols with cit­rus le­mon and melon.” Fla­vor: “Del­i­cate and re­fresh­ing, the tart­ness hits up front with notes of le­mon but fades through the taste. Fresh lemon­grass emerges with a slight candy sweet­ness and car­ries through. Light in body, but it has enough fla­vor to keep it in­ter­est­ing. Fin­ishes with a touch of melon.” Over­all: “Big fun fruit notes and a good bal­ance. This is a rel­a­tively com­plex beer that man­ages to seem sim­ple and be re­fresh­ing. As it warms the fla­vors come into bal­ance with lemon­grass and light veg­etable, which is prob­a­bly the dan­de­lion.”

LOC: In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana ABV: 6% | IBUS: 5 | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“The aroma is of tart straw­ber­ries, le­mon, and grape­fruit with flo­ral notes of rose and hibis­cus. The fla­vor has a dis­tinctly tart grape­fruit char­ac­ter sup­ported by peach, straw­berry, and del­i­cate hints of flo­ral per­fume.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Nice bal­ance of sweet straw­berry with hibis­cus and light tart­ness. Re­fresh­ing and bright. Light malt sweet­ness, toasty caramel, some cherry, and light flo­ral notes with a touch of honey.” Fla­vor: “Notes of straw­berry pro­vide some fruiti­ness and sweet­ness. Nicely bal­anced acid­ity. Plenty of fruity es­ters: berry, straw­berry jam, light acid­ity, a touch of le­mon, with light honey notes. The hibis­cus and rose give a light flo­ral fla­vor with a mild tart­ness in the fin­ish.” Over­all: “Sweet, but not too sweet. Very pleas­ant and re­fresh­ing. Just right for those who en­joy meads or fruit wines. Hops pro­file on this beer is light and blended in well with the fruit and hibis­cus.” LOC: Austin, Texas ABV: 5.6% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Brewed with hibis­cus flow­ers and dry hopped with Ci­tra, this ale blends a hint of tart­ness with trop­i­cal fruit and cit­rus notes. We rec­om­mend pair­ing it with fresh fruit salad, le­mon tarts, or Hawai­ian pulled pork.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Light berry and spicy aroma, and as it warms, a slight her­bal note starts to come out. It has a sur­pris­ingly hoppy nose that is a lit­tle dank and resinous. Flo­ral sweet­ness from the hibis­cus along with some cherry es­ters and a light pep­pery back­ing.” Fla­vor: “Light and del­i­cate. Sweet and tart from the hibis­cus notes. Medium body, light malt sweet­ness, a touch low on the car­bon­a­tion for a sai­son, mod­er­ate acid­ity, light le­mon, touch of hops flo­ral notes and grassy, some light black pep­per. Af­ter­taste is sweet with a slight acid­ity and a very light bit­ter­ness.” Over­all: “The del­i­cate na­ture of the sai­son body and the sweet/tart­ness of the hibis­cus are en­joy­able. But the car­bon­a­tion is quite a bit low, mak­ing the beer bor­der on cloy­ingly sweet.” LOC: Den­ver, Colorado ABV: 56.3% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“Na­dia Kali is an in­spired sai­son with cross-cul­tural in­flu­ence. Na­dia’s ruby pink glow comes from a gen­er­ous in­fu­sion of hibis­cus, while ginger root gives it a sub­tle spice and a hint of woodsy ma­tu­rity, and le­mon peel adds a cit­rus tart­ness to keep you on your toes.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Some nice malt sweet­ness. Some pep­per and tart­ness. As it warms, a spici­ness comes through mixed with the hibis­cus.” Fla­vor: “The fla­vor of this beer hits with some earth­i­ness and pep­per char­ac­ter. The spice notes carry through the taste. Some sweet­ness from the hibis­cus. A lit­tle on the sweet side, but that plays well with the hibis­cus. Clean tart fin­ish. In the back sits some light malt sweet­ness with a lit­tle tart­ness. The car­bon­a­tion is mod­er­ate.” Over­all: “The joy is the bal­ance be­tween hibis­cus and sai­son. The mod­er­ate hibis­cus and spici­ness bite up front have the in­ten­sity of an IPA.”

LOC: Spring­field, Mis­souri ABV: 5% | IBUS: N/A | SRM: N/A

What the brewer says

“A sub­tly fruity and quench­ing Bel­gian wit brewed to stand up to sum­mer’s swel­ter. Bright, mildly flo­ral and tart; guar­an­teed to in­spire deeds that will make you blush.”

What our panel thought

Aroma: “Nice wit char­ac­ter: or­ange peel, light phe­nols, flo­ral hibis­cus seems to be there and fits in nicely. There’s a sweet un­der­tone too, tied to the hibis­cus, as well as some toasty malt and graham cracker.” Fla­vor: “Although it is re­fresh­ing and clean, the fla­vor doesn’t quite live up to the nose. The fruity pome­gran­ate berry char­ac­ter is nice with some sweet­ness and fruit notes. It has a del­i­cate tart­ness and the hibis­cus adds depth and works well with the ber­ries.” Over­all: “Beau­ti­ful nose, tol­er­a­ble fla­vor. An in­ter­est­ing mix of tart pome­gran­ate and high car­bon­a­tion with an un­der­ly­ing wheat note. Her­bal is in the mid­dle and quickly dis­si­pates into the af­ter­taste.”

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