My April Top Two have European roots. But with modern twists. Los Angeles Ale Works came out with their Lemon Grab Belgian Wit which went all in on lemon instead of the orange peel and it worked really well. Bright without the lemonade acidity. Second beer is Loafer from Eagle Rock Brewery. A rustic saison made with upcycled bread from an L.A. bakery. I bought it for the conservation angle and new collaboration idea and ended up enjoying just the beer itself.
After a month of no change on the IPA leaderboard, there is a new number 3. Idaho 7 IPA from Crooked Stave is full and pillowy with a pine Christmas flavor along with a touch of grapefruit pith. Both sticky and soft this Colorado IPA even finishes with a touch of Concord grape.
3. Crooked Stave Idaho 7 IPA
2. Indie Brewing Quintette
1. Offshoot Beer Co. DDH Visions
Moving on to the third month of the year with a little more hope in our step. Vaccines are getting into arms which means we inch ever closer to life pre-pandemic with taster trays and not being forced to purchase meals.
~ e-visits to (3) breweries known for nitro ales.
~ special featured reviews of beers from The Bruery for the second month in a row!
~Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events (Far in the future events)
~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark
~ A Book & A Beer reads Awkward Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho
~ A Podcast & A Beer listens to No Such Thing as a Fish
~ Great Beer names and Best Beers of the Month
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world.
Considering that Utopias and de Garde was drunk this month, the pickings for best we’re still pretty slim. I really liked aspects of the Samuel Adams old beer and the Strata hop wild ale but both were pretty one sided affairs.
Oddly enough, where I found balance was in the big beers of Shadow Puppet. Both of their triple IPA’s found the sweet spot of hops, alcohol and texture. Rational Exuberance and Efficiency TIPA’s are my February best choices. The 12 ounces cans from the Livermore brewery reminded me of the beer El Segundo big IPA’s. Strong and hoppy in equal measure.
On to the top three IPA’s of 2021, Strata Aerobic from Highland Park Brewery drops out and The Coachman from Societe drops to third as Quintette from Indie Brewing grabs the number 2 slot just behind Visions from Offshoot Beer Co. Quintette an anniversary IPA from the DTLA brewery packed a punch but was also light on its feet. I finished the can and immediately wished that I had another.
Sadly, no pumpkin beers made the list for best of the month, thankfully no winter seasonals did either. In the bronze and silver spots are the Gaviota Coffee Ale reviewed on this very blog at the beginning of the month. I still remember that bright green coffee bean flavor. Next is a beer I had yesterday, Tiki IPA from AleSmith. This beer popped with coconut aroma in a way that other tiki themed beers haven’t and then it settled into a well done IPA.
The winner though is Black Tuesday from The Bruery. So smooth and surprisingly not needing to age to get to that point. Just a lovely bourbon barrel beer just in time for the fall.
Another month in the books, and it’s time to unveil my best beers of the month.
Two Pale Ales nearly took the top spots, Friendly Skies from Los Angeles Ale Works and XTRA Citra from Surly Brewing were bright hop spots.
But the winners were from the California Craft Beer Summit At Home pack, one not easy to get and one that you can now more easily find. Canopy from Fieldwork Brewing is the third Pale Ale on the list. It was a bright bouquet of fruity and earthy hops that was also bright on the palate. Harlot a Belgian Blonde from Societe Brewing took that simple style and jazzed it up with Belgian tones. Delightful with each sip.
Coming in at #3 this month is my first Surly Brewing beer in quite some time. Rocket Surgery was light on the palate and even though it wasn’t hazy in the glass, the hops were dancing and the great name just added to the fun.
#2 is a Firestone Walker tie. Gen-4 and 016 in the Luponic Distortion series. I knew they would be good but both beers went beyond that reliable baseline that some breweries would love as their ceiling.
Lastly, the best was a freebie from New Belgium, 1985, the hazy VooDoo Ranger was perfect for this hot month. It had a super bright pineapple aroma and the taste had a nice bitter hit while pulling in the juicy character.
Here are the top 2 beers that I tasted this month…
Now this is a proper hazy. Light creamy yellow orange color – big fruit nose. I pick up some Concord grape and some wood chip notes. Fruit punch could be a good flavor descriptor too. Not super bitter and doesn’t scrape the palate.
#2 is the Hazy IPA from Buzzrock Brewing in Torrance. It is sure to be divisive though because though the look and aroma are what we have come to expect from the style, the taste of pine that greets you as you sip, is really not. But it is one of those beers that is pleasantly off beat.