The universe is a strange, chaotic void. And here we are, you and I, existing on this one spec, spinning in that vastness. To experience its enormity, as it is, would cause our heads to combust, Scanners-style. Instead, our brain and senses work to sift out the noise and bring form to the formless. We recognize patterns. We make connections. And this works. We are able to do things on this spec, in this void. Create culture. Language. Beer, even. Lots of beer. So much beer, in fact, that it becomes its own form of chaos, its own existential crisis. How can we make sense of this boundless 6,000+ brewery universe of new beers? At CBB, we use those same evolved senses to make connections, see patterns and grasp onto themes, like the beers this week that were inspired by something local — a bird’s flight path, an arts district and a folk legend.
But is this truth? Does this theme actually exist? Or is this feeble pattern recognition of ours a mere construction only meant to keep our heads intact?
Hm. Anyway. Here are your five beers to know this week.
Drake’s Brewing goes bird watching with Flyway Pils
Drake’s Brewing Co. has become well known in recent years for its double IPAs, rich barrel-aged stouts and innovative limited releases. But with the year-round bottled release of Flyway, a North German-style pilsner, Drake’s is honoring a classic beer style that’s been growing in demand over the past year (since it debuted as a draft-only beer). Inspired by the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory path for birds that extends from Alaska to Patagonia, and a nod to the unofficial duck mascot of Drake’s, Flyway Pils is pleasantly dry and crisp.
Flyway Pils is made with Extra Pale Premium Pilsner Malt from world-class German malting house Weyermann Malting Co. Made with some of the palest barley, it produces a hint of malty sweetness and honey flavors. The brewing team uses Vanguard hops, an unjustly ignored hop that deserves some recognition, according to Brewmaster John Gillooly. A direct descendant of the German noble hop Hallertau Mittlefrüh, Vanguard lends a delicate cedar and woody characteristic along with a soft bitterness. In keeping with the beer’s European lineage, Drake’s ferments Flyway Pils with a lager yeast strain that can be traced back to Carlsberg Brewery in Denmark, who first isolated and domesticated it in 1882.
New Epic APA inspired by local arts neighborhood
Epic Brewing is releasing RiNo APA, a Juicy American Pale Ale starting this March. This latest year-round can offering is inspired by what Epic has learned brewing New England-Style IPAs as well as the creativity and artistic passion they see in the River North neighborhood (RiNo) that is the home of their Denver brewery.
“When we opened our brewery in 2013, the neighborhood was already buzzing with creative freedom, and we were instantly drawn to its infectious energy. I see RiNo APA as a tribute to that venturing spirit. We’ve been fortunate to be involved with such a dedicated and hardworking community,” said Epic Cofounder David Cole.
RiNo APA is the reimagining of RiNo Pale Ale, one of the first beers Epic brewed to season their Denver brewhouse. It’s updated with loads of juicy, late-addition Centennial and Mosaic hops, just a bit of haze to soften the mouth-feel and a bright burst of colorful tropical aromas. The beer will be launching in a newly redesigned 12-oz can inspired by the multitude of murals decorating the neighborhood. The initial launch will be in mid-March with full national distribution coming online through April. It will be available year-round on draft and in cans.
Saint Arnold Brewing year-round a tribute to folk artist, postal worker
Saint Arnold Brewing Co., the 2017 Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year, will release its newest year-round beer, Orange Show. The blonde ale made with real blood oranges is named after the famed folk art monument in Houston’s East End neighborhood and will be available in 12-oz cans and on draft across Texas and Louisiana.
Orange Show is a blonde ale made with 2,220 lbs of real blood orange purée per batch or roughly a half-pound of purée per gallon. A strong citrus aroma comes from the purée added during fermentation and the Centennial and Citra hops. The combination of sweet and slightly tart flavors make it a balanced, light bodied beer.
The Orange Show Monument is a 3,000 sq-ft structure designed by the late Jefferson Davis McKissack, a Houston postal worker. He built it as a tribute to his favorite fruit, and it is viewed as one of the most important folk art environments in the country. In 2015, Saint Arnold debuted the popular Art Car IPA, named after the famous parade organized by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, so paying homage to the Orange Show Monument for the newest year-round beer was a no-brainer for Texas’ oldest craft brewery located in Houston.
“The Orange Show is a Houston institution and one of the things that makes Houston really cool,” said Lennie Ambrose, chief marketing officer for Saint Arnold Brewing Co. “We’ve had a partnership with the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art for decades, so naming a beer after a Houston landmark just made sense.”
Pike Brewing rethinks its namesake IPA
Pike Brewing Co. is releasing an updated Pike IPA to bring more of today’s vibrant, hoppy flavors and a lighter body to this easy drinking IPA. When Pike IPA was first introduced in 1990, by then Pike Head Brewer Fal Allen, (now with Anderson Valley Brewing) IPAs were rare and more than a few people scoffed at a beer with so much hop flavor. Pike IPA prevailed and went on to convert countless craft beer drinkers to the deliciousness of hops and IPAs. Accolades rained in for Pike IPA, including Roger Protz naming it as one of “300 beers to try before you die” and also “one of five best IPAs in U.S.”
Times and palates have changed dramatically since Pike IPA was originally developed, as has the myriad of newer hops and local malts. This has led Pike Brewing Co. to update this flagship beer, holding steady to its intent as a low-bitter, balanced IPA that pairs well with food while keeping your hop craving palate satisfied. Head Brewer Art Dixon modernized the recipe to brighten the beer’s body and rev-up its tropical and stone fruit hop flavors. Piney, citrus and fresh Citra, Cascade and Mosaic hop flavors artfully mix with a clean and light malt base in the refreshed Pike IPA, which is available year-round in 12-oz bottles and on draft.
Bruery Terreux’s first offering from its new oak foeders
Bruery Terreux is a brand from The Bruery in Orange County, Calif., that exclusively focuses on and explores the sour and wild side of beer, channeling nature for inspiration and participation in crafting both traditional and new takes on farmhouse-style ales, including Belgian-style saisons, tart wheat beers and oak-aged fruited sours.
This new release, Saison Ardennes, is no exception. Saison Ardennes is a tart saison, hand-crafted to embody the dependable, spirited nature of a classic Belgian-style farmhouse ale. This includes a crisp malt profile, rustic floral and spice notes and lively carbonation. This rendition expresses further depth and character from a six-month fermentation and maturation in one of its newest 103-bbl large oak foeders previously used for wine in Santa Rosa, Calif. It’s also a bottle of beer that will pleasantly evolve over time, thanks to the presence of wild yeast added for bottle conditioning.
The beer will be available in 375-ml bottles and on tap in nearly 30 states throughout the country, starting this month.