Nebraska Brewing Company Toasted Barn
The first beer in Nebraska's super-limited Inception series, Toasted Barn is an intensely smoky barrel aged porter. While only 5.6% in alcohol, the Toasted Barn packs more flavor than most porters twice its size, with prominent oak tannins and subtle vanilla notes.
Allagash Mattina Rossa
Due to carbonation issues, Allagash's Mattina Rossa is likely never to see a commercial release, but two years and 1000 pounds of local Maine raspberries later, the french oak-aged Mattina Rossa more than makes up for its light carbonation with big, fresh raspberry flavor.
New Glarus Brewing Company Raspberry Tart
Wisconsin's coveted New Glarus Brewing Company balances fresh raspberry flavor with a rich, full bodied backbone in their Raspberry Tart. More approachable than most sour beers, this is an excellent introduction to the style.
Brewing saisons is an art of subtlety, and this one from Colorado's Funkwerks balances slight tartness with hints of lemon peel and apple into an incredibly drinkable, food-friendly brew. Look for big things in the coming years from this young brewery.
Ithaca Beer Company LeBleu
While most people know Ithaca for their sour Brute or hop-forward Flower Power, LeBleu is the hidden gem of the line. This sour blueberry ale combines the tart berry character with a strong oak presence and subtle wild ale qualities. It all finishes dry with a strong carbonation that welcomes another sip.
Bear Republic Cuvee de Bubba
Our favorite sour of the festival (and that is saying a lot based on the competition), the barrel-aged Cuvee de Bubba is inoculated with wild microflora and fauna. The result is a unique sour with mixed up notes of strawberry, cut grass, and tobacco. For the adventurous only, but wow, what a beer.
Foothills Brewing Sexual Chocolate
North Carolina's legendary chocolate-infused imperial stout, Sexual Chocolate is the flagship beer from Foothills Brewing. Huge chocolate notes linger with toffee, coffee, and a slight roasted character. Remarkably drinkable for its massive 9.75% ABV, this is one dangerous brew!
Lost Abbey Veritas 008
Talk about experimental—Veritas 008 started its life as a Mexican lager that was the soured in wine barrels with lemon zest and tea leaves. The finish is surprisingly harmonious, with a bright, clean drinking citrus character mixed with that classic Lost Abbey tartness.
Deschutes Black Butte XXIII
While chili chocolate beers are relatively common these days, the richness of this beer elevates it to pure decadence. The inclusion of Spanish orange peel with the Pasilla Negra chilies and cocoa nibs makes this intense beer a must-try for lovers of those foil-wrapped chocolate oranges.
Russian River Defenestration
The latest in Russian River's "-tion" series, Defenestration is hoppy blond ale with notes of light citrus and summer wheat that mingle with the lemony white wine flavors of their house Belgian yeast strain. Incredibly drinkable, our one ounce pour was simply not enough!
Trinity Brewing Company The Flavor
Sour fruit beers where a big hit at this year's GABF and The Flavor from Colorado Springs' Trinity Brewing proved that Colorado could hold their own against some of the country's best. Three varieties of cherries mingle with dark roasted malts in this medium bodied stout before it receives extended aging in the house sour barrels. Barnyard, chocolate, espresso, and big dark cherry notes all come together in the result.
Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otoño
Michigan's Jolly Pumpkin Brewery must get tired of explaining that, no, there is no pumpkin in their beer. Even this, their fall seasonal, uses roasted chestnuts in place of the obligatory gourd. Hints of the meaty nuts mingle with nutmeg, oak, and caramel malt notes under a blanket of Jolly Pumpkin's trademark wild yeast. Fuego del Otoño is more full-flavored than many of their offering and ideal for the changing seasons.
Elysian Coche de Medianoche
Washington's Elysian brewery make some of the country's finest pumpkin ales and the Coche de Medianoche may be the most unique. Combining pumpkin pie flavors with the spices used in a traditional Mexican mole, Coche find its flavor through the use of cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, and chilies as well as roasted pumpkin seeds. This is a rich, full bodied, and powerful brew.
Al Buck and The Bruery's "Batch #50" Pro-Am Beer
Why drink homebrew at a festival with over 1000 of the country best beers? Well, when fledgling yeast-whisperer Al Buck of the East Coast Yeast Company teams up with one of the country's finest Belgian-inspired breweries, well, you just take notice. This, a one year old barrel-aged gueuze, combines powerful lemon and Brett notes with what I can only assume is a secret strain of Al's yeast. Batch #50 is the first part of what will one day be a blended brew from multiple agings—we can't wait for the results.
Darkside Fermentation Sirius Ale
On his tiny, one barrel system in San Marcos, Texas, Silas Parker is turning out some farmhouse ales perfect for anyone looking to venture away a bit from the style guidelines. These are earthy, honest brews handmade with personality. Our favorite was the Sirius Ale, a Belgian-style dark strong ale that mixes tart apple notes with hints of caramel and fig. Not over-the-top sour by any means but a long way from your traditional dubbel.