When it comes to beer, there are a ton of choices out there, with more being added everyday. This year we’re rounding up some of our fave new finds each month. Some of the brews we did full reviews on, while others are just special gems we found on tap while we were out and about that we think you should know about.
Check out our favorite beers from October here.
By no means a comprehensive list of everything new that came out in November (we can only drink so much!), here are some of our favorites that we’d recommend you grabbing a pint of while you’re out with friends, or picking up a few bottles of at your local bottle shop.
Discover something new this month that you absolutely love? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments!
Hop Hands is a very flavorful Pale Ale, but it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. Most of what you taste here are the flavors the hops impart into the beer rather than any bittering. To us, this method for brewing an IPA or Pale Ale makes the styles more approachable for people who may not be “hop heads.” However, there’s plenty here in Hop Hands for folks who are big fans of hoppy beers, too. And at 5.5%, this is one flavorful, and quite crushable, lower ABV brew.
Sweet notes dominate this beer. You’re hit in the mouth with big waves of caramel and vanilla, which are underscored by a softly carbonated, thin mouthfeel. You get a little bit of the oak barrel after the sip dissipates, with sharp, astringent tannins letting you know the beer spent some time in wood. The hops are subtle to the point of being nonexistent, there’s nothing bitter, nothing roasted…and yet there is an undeniable balance in the bottle. And it’s definitely one worth looking for during this most wonderful time of the year.
In November we took a look at some of the best barrel-aged vanilla stouts out there. One of our faves on the list was Side Project Brewing’s Derivation 6. After the high praise and reviews earned by Derivation 2, which featured Ugandan vanilla beans, we had high expectations for blend 6, which also includes Ugandan vanilla beans, but with cocoa nibs and cinnamon to boot. We have to say this beer completely blew us away. At 15%, this thick masterpiece pours like motor oil, coating the glass, and as it warms the vanilla bean takes center stage, finishing with cinnamon on the backend.
Photo by: aleauteur / Instagram
Marshmallow Handjee is one of those beers that immediately came to mind when we started that barrel-aged vanilla stout list.Whether it’s BVDL or Marshmallow Handjee (this year’s batch name), one thing is for certain, this beer has to be on your list as not only one of the top vanilla barrel-aged stouts, but one of the best beers on the market period. With the most in your face vanilla aroma and mouthfeel out there, it will make you completely forget the base beer.
There’s a German, slightly spicy hop thing happening on the back end of the sip, but the defining characteristic to this beer is the promised creaminess. And it’s truly creamy, with a body that is light to the point of being almost fluffy. The creaminess in this case comes from the boatloads of wheat that Spoetzl uses in the malt bill. And the whole package works. It’s light, crisp, fluffy, drinkable and so good it made us rethink our notions about cream ales as a style and Spoetzl as a brewery. That’s about all you can ask for from a beer.
Deschutes’ The Abyss is great, and so is their The stoic, so why not blend them together? Oh, and why not bring in Fred and Doggie Claws from Hair of the Dog Brewing too. Because it’s a party. A big, freaking beer-blending party. All four beers were aged individually in different barrels. Both Deschutes beers were aged in Pinot Noir barrels, while Fred was aged in rye barrels and Doggie Claws in cognac barrels. The end result of all this free love and barrel aging is a big beer (14.2% ABV) that delivers fistfuls of vanilla and caramel. They released it in October. Look for it in 22-ounce bottles.
Woah, did this beer come out of left field to surprise us. Where many of their other hop-forward beers have seemed well-balanced, classical and measured to us, this one is rowdy, juicy and free-wheeling. With a hop nose almost as purely big as the Born Yesterday, Cowiche Canyon is certainly one of the hoppiest beers in the tasting. It presents big, juicy lemon citrus and tropical fruit notes, chased by more bitter, resinous impressions.
Lagunitas takes home the award for hoppiest beer in this fresh hop tasting without ever breaking a sweat. Born Yesterday tastes like the epitome of freshness, which was exactly the idea all along. Huge resin and orange citrus notes erupt out of the glass and perfume the air. Juicy citrus is there on the palate, with tons of green, grassy flavors that gain a slight edge in the resin vs. citrus power struggle. There’s essentially no malt to speak of in this one, or if there is, it’s been entirely washed away on a tidal wave of pure hop expressiveness.
Big things are brewing for 3 Floyds, which managed to poach away the much-admired former brewmaster of Surly, Todd Haug, only a couple of weeks ago. One can’t help but be excited to see how Haug will influence the already hop-driven 3 Floyds lineup, among which Broo Doo is always an annual highlight. As for this year’s vintage, it impressed by being quite distinct from almost all the other entrants. Especially on the nose, this beer is much juicier and more nouveau than many of the other fresh hop beers, with big, sweet, almost candy-like grapefruit character in particular.
This month we rounded up some of the most essential barley wines out there, and it’s no suprise that Mother of All Storms made the list. This barrel-aged monster is considered one of the finest barleywines on the planet. It debuted in 2008 as an Evan Williams-treated version of Pelican’s house barleywine, Stormwatcher. It’s on the rare side, but not unattainable with the right trade bait.