Dry January is finally over. That means it’s time to stock the fridge with exciting new craft beer releases. Truth be told, February tends to be a slow-ish time for craft beer. The heavy, hard-hitting winter stouts and porters are fading out and spring releases aren’t quite popping off yet. Still, there’s a lot of great beer on taps and in cans out there, assuming you know where to look (spoiler: we do).
The eight beers below represent craft releases from each region of the United States with an international pick thrown in for good measure. Some of the brews will be fairly easy to find from coast-to-coast. Others will be a little more niche and might require hitting the open road to track down. Don’t fear the extra effort, 2020 might just be your year for a beer-inspired road trip!
PACIFIC NORTHWEST DROP: Elysian Brewing Black Hearted Bête
Style: Belgian-style Tripel
Brewery Location: Seattle, WA
Black Hearted Bête takes it’s time to become what it is. The blackberry-infused ale is aged in old Januik red wine barrels and goes through a secondary fermentation, amping up the sour and funk. Pale malts mingle with Belgian candi sugars and plenty of fresh, local blackberries.
The wine barrel aging brings about a stone fruit sweetness. Peaches are punctuated by a stiff note of black cherry earthiness that leads towards a clear hint of tart. The acidity and bold fruit bring about a roundness to the drink with a whisper of grassy fields in the background.
SOUTHWEST DROP: Boomtown Brewery Cabin Fever
Style: Baltic Porter
Brewery Location: Los Angeles, CA
Cabin Fever is Boomtown’s big hitter this time of year. The L.A. brewery — situated in the city’s Art’s District — is the perfect stop to make on any Los Angeles beer-journey (this beer will be hard-ish to find outside the West Coast). The high ABV beer is a great way to get hooked on the masterful prowess Boomtown’s brewers possess.
Expect a rush of bitter dark chocolate that’s cut by a wisp of sour. There’s a feeling of alcohol-soaked espresso beans that maintain the bitterness of the chocolate. A dry fullness comes into play with bitter and roasted notes finishing off the sip.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN DROP: Upslope Brewing Brown Ale
Style: English Brown Ale
Brewery Location: Boulder, CO
Upslope’s Brown Ale is back! This English brown ale is brewed with a respectful nod to the European style, while embracing the wilds of Colorado’s brewing scene. The darkened English malts serve as a backbone to the well-hopped American beer.
Rich coffee notes mingle with clear hints of buttery toffee and caramel while dark chocolate lingers on the back end. An earthiness kicks in as the caramel, brown sugar, and dark chocolate carrying the taste towards an echo of hop dankness. The sip finishes on a dry and robust note as the sweet and bitter roasted flavors fade.
SOUTHERN DROP: Great Raft Brewing The Company I Keep
Style: German Pilsner
Brewery Location: Shreveport, LA
The Company I Keep is the promise of a hot summer rapidly approaching. The hoppy pilsner is a marrying of crushable German pilsner traditions and American dry hopping techniques. The result is a very drinkable can of suds that’ll help bridge the waning days of winter with the (still a far way off) dog days of summer.
Brightness is what greets you. The beer has a fresh rush of dank hop that leads towards a genuinely malty base — almost hinting at sourdough bread. It’s dry and crisp, which adds to the thirst-quenching nature of the brew. The bright hops offer an earthy nature alongside bright florals and pine dank that never overpowers the easy-drinking aspect of this gem.
MIDWEST DROP: Great Lakes Brewing Bierwolf Dunkelweizen
Brewery Location: Cleveland, OH
Bierwolf Dunkelweizen is an American take on the classic Bavarian dark wheat beer. This brew’s well-malted wheat base is spiked with dark chocolate, orange peels, and cold brew coffee to ramp up the taste and feel of this bottle of suds.
Sweet malts, bananas, and cloves offer a base, as with any great wheat beer. The cold brew and chocolate flavors build from that base as the orange zest offers a bright counterpoint. There’s a clear bitterness that lives next to the almost cookie-like malts. The beer ends on a bold note, with a caramel sweetness next to dark coffee and chocolate bitterness.
NORTHEAST DROP: Smuttynose Brewing Pulp Session
Style: Session Pale Ale
Brewery Location: Hampton, NH
Pulp Session from Smuttynose up in New Hampshire is embracing the low-ABV and low-calorie trend of session beers with this spring sipper. The beer is specifically brewed to a low-ABV to keep the calorie count low. Orange peels are added to the brew to augment the already citrus-forward hops.
Sunshine and citrus zest greet you. The beer is bright and as crushable as a White Claw. The orange and lemon citrus shine through with a nice base of hop bitterness that leads more toward tropical fruit than West Coast dank.
WILD CARD DROP: Prairie Artisan Ales All Y’all
Style: Hazy IPA
Brewery Location: Oklahoma City, OK
All Y’all Hazy IPA from Prairie Artisan Ales is a masterclass in the NEIPA style. The beer is brewed with juicy hops and left unfiltered to maintain all those hoppy and juicy elements, making this beer a flavor-bomb in the glass.
Tropical juices, citrus, malts, and bitter hops mix together to create a beer-smoothie feel. The base of a solid malty ale is accentuated by bursts of tropical fruit juice and citrus from the hops. Fresh herbs and just-cut grass pop in the background as the malt base edges towards a sourdough tang. The beer finishes with a lingering feeling of all that juice with a fullness that leaves you satisfied.
INT’L PICK OF THE MONTH: Brewdog 5AM Saint
Style: Red Ale
Brewery Location: Columbus, OH
Brewdog’s 5AM Saint in a Scottish classic that’s being brewed stateside right now at their Columbus facilities. The beer uses five malts and five hop varieties to add depth to the red ale. This is a beer that strikes an almost perfect balance between hops and malts while bringing serious late winter vibes to the palate.
Expect a balance between the sweetbread malts and the juicy hops. There’s a spiciness that runs alongside the burst of dark berries and bitter orange marmalade presence. The cinnamon cookie base counterpoints the bright hops to create a sip that feels just right for right now.