First up, a new beer from a brewery we’re all familiar with: Great Divide. The highly respected crew out of Denver has been riffing on their acclaimed Yeti Imperial Stout for several years now with fun twists like aging it on oak, adding chocolate and adding espresso. Now they’re at it again, fermenting Yeti with a Belgian yeast strain instead of its usual American strain. Belgian beer fans will know that Belgian yeasts tend to impart very spicy, fruity flavors to beers.
So imagine the black-as-night, roasty, hoppy, thick and rich Yeti you know and love with additional subtle spice and dark fruit notes you’d normally get in a Belgian quad. I’ve not even had this one yet, since it just hit Birmingham, but I expect that will be remedied before this edition goes to press. Can’t wait. It’s a must-try beer for anyone who loves imperial stouts.
Next up is a beer from a brewery that just hit Birmingham for the first time, Palm, out of Belgium. Their flagship is an amber that BeerAdvocate classifies as a Belgian pale ale. But it’s hard to get me excited about that style. I was more impressed with their tripel, Brugge Tripel. It’s big, fruity and complex, and a good one for folks who like Belgian beers with some heft (it’s 8.7-percent ABV).
And for the first time in the history of this column, I’m going to recommend two beers that aren’t even listed on BeerAdvocate yet. The first is not listed because it has not yet been released. But you need to get it on your beer radar: Cigar City Black Whole. The most notable thing about the beer (at least until I can comment on the flavor) is that it’s a tribute to an Alabama indie band, El Chupa Cobras. Cigar City head brewer Wayne Wambles was once band mates with El Chupa Cobras front man Kenny Johnson, so this beer has strong Alabama connections. The label bills this one as a “multi-dimensional ale” and informs us it’s dark. We don’t know much else for now. My source at the brewery informed me that it will be bottled this week but the official release date has not been set. I suggest you start looking for it next month.
As for the second beer you won’t find on BeerAdvocate, I’m not sure why it’s missing from the site. My best guess is rarity—no one active on the site has tried it yet. I’m talking about LoverBeer BeerBera. LoverBeer is one of a growing number of Italian craft breweries heavily influenced by the American craft beer revolution and Belgian brewing culture. Those influences shine through in BeerBera, a wild ale spontaneously fermented in wood vessels. I haven’t had it yet, but I expect something very close to an authentic sour lambic. Grapes are added, making it a wine-like beer. It’s 8-percent ABV.
As tends to be the case with exceedingly rare beers, it’s got a big price tag. The only place I know carrying it is the J. Clyde, where you’ll pay somewhere north of 20 dollars for a 12.7 ounce bottle. Worth it for those who can afford it, but not something many UAB students are going to spring for. There are also two other LoverBeer selections at the Clyde, both quite rare but already listed on BeerAdvocate: Madamin and D’uva Beer. They’re over 20 dollars a bottle.
The last on my list is certainly not least, Straight to Ale Monkeynaut IPA. It’s not new to Birmingham, but it is a standout IPA from an Alabama brewer. The vast majority of American-made IPAs are dominated by citrusy Pacific Northwest hops. Monkeynaut has more European, floral hops than most, although it’s not without some citrus flavors. It’s complex, loaded with hops and a great change of pace in the world of IPAs. You’ll find it on tap at a handful of places in Birmingham.
“Hopped Up” is a weekly brew review by Danner Kline, founder of Free the Hops and co-organizer of the annual Magic City Brewfest. Send your feedback to email@example.com