Heavens to Betsy, you know I love my bitter beers. Give me hops, or give me death! Well, don’t give me death. But lately, hoppy beers have begun displaying a most peculiar pigmentation: black. While this color usually signifies a beer as dark and menacing as Darth Vader, these bitter brews remain remarkably light and nimble, with just a lick of coffee, cocoa, roast and toast. I touch on this trend in my most recent Food Republic post. Curious? Drink it up! And welcome to the dark side.
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My Current Top 5 Beers
1) Deschutes Brewery Red Chair NWPA: Step aside, Sierra Nevada Celebration. My new favorite hoppy winter seasonal hails from Deschutes. Red Chair pours out radiant copper, releasing a heady perfume of citrus and fresh-baked biscuits. It's a touch of spring in the depths of winter.
2) Allagash Coolship Cerise: I feel guilty writing about Cerise. The spontaneously fermented beer is bottled in insanely small batches and is only sold at the brewery in Portland, Maine. But if someone offers you a taste of Cerise, greedily accept it. Made with cherries, the beer is tart, fruity perfection.
3) The Alchemist Heady Topper: Ladies and gentlemen, meet the East Coast's answer to Russian River's Pliny the Elder. Vermont-brewed Heady is a dank, deeply resinous double IPA. It's a fresh, unfiltered exploration into the almighty power of hops.
4) Maine Beer MO: Over the last few years, this little Maine brewery has made big waves with its hop-forward ales such as Peeper and the resinous Lunch IPA. My pick? MO, a piney, citrusy pleasure with a surprisingly dry finish.
5) Smuttynose Wheat Wine: Forget barley wines: This winter, I'm drinking wheat wines, which are boozy beers made with a measure of smooth, calming wheat. Smuttynose's citrusy, vanilla-scented offering is among the best of the bunch. It drinks with a pinch of caramel sweetness, while crisp bitterness and smooth oak balance out this luscious slow sipper. One note: It gets even better with age.