The occasional cider does sneak past our beer-focused flavor shield, but only when it’s as well-crafted as this one produced by Muwin Estate winery in Nova Scotia. Made with five different apples, Original’s got a crisp nose that balances sharp, tart Granny Smith apples and freshly tilled soil; let it sit for a minute and you get a lovely baked apple sweetness. Straightforward flavor delivers subtle spices and sweetness like caramelizing sugars on a baked apple, while fruit skin tannins at the finish give the drying impression of an oak-aged white wine. The blend of apples tastes fresh and natural—like actual apples—conveying good depth of flavor without getting too crazy. This is something both cider folks and newbies would enjoy—an orchard cider that isn’t inaccessible or funky.
The Keeper’s Veil
Burial Beer Co.
Behold, flower children, your favorite new beer. Chamomile, hibiscus, rose, passionflower, heather, elderflower, lavender and honey all flavor this North Carolina-brewed saison, lending it both a fun, rosé-like tint and a heady bouquet like walking through a flower forest. Smoky clove notes and white pepper emerge after a swirl; sharp lemon and tangy hibiscus keep things bright and crisp. The two-sided sip leads with rose petals, chamomile and lavender—very tea-like—while the come-down is cushioned by sweet, pastrylike malt notes and a dollop of honey. With a gently spiced finish like a dark, sweet sun tea, everything about this brew is delicate and pretty.
Double Dry Hopped Congress Street
Don’t let the glowing peach, chicken-brothlike appearance of this IPA deter you; that cloudiness is what happens when a beer is dry-hopped to the extreme, and its other result is an intense aroma. Here, the double-dose of dry-hopping slams the nostrils with well-knit bubblegum, pineapple, strawberry and peach, but as it settles, the overwhelming impression is of cantaloupe rind and dry cannabis. Fresh-cut, funky chive scents provide additional intrigue, and neutral biscuity malts allow the dynamic hops to shine; the aroma feels new each time you return to it. On the tongue, metric tons of melon rind and tangelo citrus pith surge, with funky garlic flashing before the close. A dab of peppery capsaicin (likely from the hops) and full-pulp orange juice tang (definitely from the hops) linger after the swallow.
Certain varieties of hops can exhibit very wine-like qualities (the Nelson Sauvin strain, in fact, was named based on its similarity to Sauvignon Blanc grapes). So an imperial IPA with a mid-fermentation injection of Sauvignon Blanc grape juice, as occurred with this brew, makes much more sense than you’d think. The aroma melds lime zest and cannabis, while sweet white grapes seem to replace malt sugars at the base and sweaty chardonnay funk tugs at the edges. On the tongue, hop-derived tangerine and white grape-derived juiciness ebb to sauv-blanc funk and dusty straw; it’s a very successful, fun-to-pick-apart marriage of hop and grape.
Grimm Artisanal Ales
Whoever’s first to figure out how to make a candle that replicates this IPA’s aroma will make a fortune. It’s a head rush, gathering white onion, peppermint, oregano, passion fruit, tangerine, sugared mango, garlic powder and fresh-cut grass then beaming them into your face all at once like a spotlight. The flavor is more mellow, leading with reduced mango merging into wheat grass, acorns and tangerine sorbet, while doughy croissants provide surprising malt support. A down-soft body cradles the tongue like a hammock before very gentle bitterness fades to black.