With every new year come new releases, innovations and trends — some good, others better. The beer industry is no different than others, except of course that we are talking about an engineered creation that we can actually drink. Based on recent conversations with brewers, distributors and salesmen, there are very good things to anticipate this year. From across the board what follows are just a few developments I have stumbled across.
First off, Dogfish Head has a tasty imperial stout brewed with Ethiopian honey and gesho root that will be released in a barrel-aged “remix” series. If you know the beer — its jazz album-inspired but pejorative name rhymes with “Witches Brew” — your imagination is probably already alight with the possibility of having a barrel-aged version of this already nuanced brew.
From farther south comes word that another great brewery will be entering the market. If you are familiar with some of the best beer in the South then you know this Tampa, Florida, brewery with its cult-like status and memorable tobacco-themed logo. Competition will tighten for handles and shelves, but the consumer will get yet another exceptional brand in Cigar City Brewing.
Closer to my home, one of Central New York’s strongest breweries will be working on a sour beer program, as well as a “Rotation Nation” IPA series. By now, you know Good Nature Brewing in Hamilton produces one of the nation’s most quintessential brown ales. Recently, I had the fortune of sampling a couple of sours (pre-blend) from their new foeders (wooden tanks used for fermenting beer); a few sips were enough to have me very intrigued. And, judging by their previous Belgian-style sours these should be excellent small batch releases. Additionally, their new rotating IPA series, with different iterations every month or so, offers another layer of excitement.
Lastly, if you have had some world-class beer from Saranac (here in Utica, New York) over the past year, chances are it was from their “Inner Circle” series. From sour IPAs to Russian imperial stouts with locally roasted coffee, these beers have made their mark at festivals and accounts lucky enough to get some on draft. But, to the chagrin of the beer-hunter, none were available in package. This year, according to multiple sources, “Inner Circle” beers will be released in bottles.
Another year, and even more great beer enters the market, as industry folk brace for the bubble to burst. Who knows if and when it will, but in the meantime, I will be enjoying the selection.
This week’s recommendation: Good Nature Brewing “Moxie Fruit” IPA, a juicy, hazy tropical-hopped IPA with big citrus notes. 7.2 percent ABV. Hamilton, New York.
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica, New York.