One of the more refreshing trends currently happening in beer is the swing back to malt-forward beers.
Call it hoppy palate fatigue, or dare I say IPA fatigue; with so many IPAs and other hop-forward beers on the market, there is plenty of great beer out there, but you may have to wade through a slew of subpar brews before you find it.
In this field that has actually become somewhat homogenized, finding a great lager, bitter beer or malty brew has become rather challenging.
As a result, many beer drinkers are a tad burned out on one-dimensional beers only showcasing hop inputs. After all, the potential flavors that yeast and malt can impart are arguably just as exciting.
Even as the New England IPA continues to grab market share — and recognition by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) as its own style — there is a growing market segment seeking the exact opposite of this hazy, lazy style.
This could be a result of later iterations bastardizing the paradigm-shifting, and still amazing, hazy IPA Heady Topper with superficial, muddy interpretations.
But regardless of the reason, clean, crisp Pilsners, malty Scottish ales, Kolschs, and more are making a comeback in the beer-centric regions of the U.S.
Vermont, in particular — always seemingly a few years ahead of the curve in the world of food and beverage — is embracing these classic styles with relatively new breweries specializing in such beer.
On a recent trip to Montpelier — that highly underrated, sleepy capital of Vermont — I was pleasantly surprised by a Scottish ale called “Heart of Lothian” from Drop-In Brewing Company out of Middlebury.
This nod to the Scottish lowlands is a Scottish 90 Shilling Ale brewed with Scottish barley malt, British crystal and chocolate malts, Fuggle and Kent Golding hops and British yeast.
At 5.6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) this beer with subtle, smooth, sweet malt character, notes of caramel and a hint of chocolate is the perfect brunch accompaniment.
As much as I enjoy the beer scene from New York to California, when you want to tap into the heart of innovation, it doesn’t always take a big city to find it.
Vermont is one of those places like Philadelphia, San Diego, Asheville and a few others that seems to always have a handle on the nation’s beer-pulse.
This week’s recommendation: Drop-In Brewing Company’s “Heart of Lothian,” a Scottish Ale brewed with Golden Promise malt, British yeast and hops for mellow, lightly sweet malt and smooth drinkability, 5.6 percent ABV, Middlebury, Vermont.
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica, New York.