Tasting Notes: Stargazer White from Highland Brewing

HighlandStargazerPour_editedFor this installment of Tasting Notes, Tuesday has arrived and brought with it the inspiration – or excuse – to daydream while day-drinking a pour of Stargazer White from Highland Brewing (Asheville, North Carolina).

Named after the Stargazer Lily that blooms in mid-to-late summer, Highland Stargazer is a fresh take on the Witbier style that employs the use of grapefruit peel, candied ginger, and coriander in its recipe. The stylistic tweaks continue from there as Highland’s brewers reinforce the “spicy character of the Belgian ale yeast” with added spice notes from Saphir hops and locally sourced rye malt. Clocking in at a sessionable 4.8% ABV, the summer-appropriate Highland Stargazer is here to supply craft beer fans with “a bright and balanced white ale in a stellar can.”

Stargazer White is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft.  You can expect to find this Seasonal offering at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Highland Brewing’s distribution footprint.

Now that we are all a little more familiar with this new Seasonal, let’s crack open these cans and get lost in fanciful thought with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Stargazer White from Highland Brewing

Appearance: A careful pour produces a soft-yellow-colored brew that is capped with right at a finger of wispy, airy white foam.  When held to direct light, the yellow gains some vibrancy and intensity.  The beer is slightly cloudy but remains clear enough to display the exuberant carbonation presence streaming throughout.  Head retention is decent but falls quicker than expected to a thin cap that still retains the ability to leave wide streaks of lace behind on the glass whenever it is jostled.

Aroma:  The aromatics kickoff with a pronounced and distinct ginger presence that eventually settles down enough to allow earthy and spicy hop tones to come forward.  Citrusy coriander then builds from this and brings with it gentle notes of grapefruit and lemongrass.

Taste: The grains surprising get top billing here, starting things off with slightly sweet wheat and spicy rye.  The malts act as a solid foundation to carry the brighter, more assertive ginger and grapefruit notes that follow closely behind.  The hops then gently work their way in, offering complementary earthy, floral and spicy notes.  The experience closes beautifully with just a bit of bubble gum and musky coriander.

Mouthfeel:  Light side of medium in body with an effervescent carbonation level, Stargazer is all about being easy-drinking and refreshing.  The beer is wonderfully balanced across the board as the spices, hops and grains all know that this experience requires focus and teamwork.  The 4.8% ABV is not at all noticeable, upping the refreshment level even further.  Aftertaste is minimal, leaving just a slight trace of ginger behind.

Final Thoughts:  Just as the brewery hoped, Highland Stargazer comes together to be an updated, slightly exotic take on the Belgian Wit/White style.  The ginger adds a fun new dimension to the flavor and aromatics but does so without taking anything away from the style’s trademark wheat and coriander notes.  The addition of grapefruit peel rather than orange is also a nice touch that adds just a grace of balancing bitterness that the style often begs for.  There is not one ingredient added to this beer that ever considers getting aggressive, and that is no small feat when you are working with ingredients such as ginger, coriander and grapefruit peel.  Everything just knows its role, works for the greater good, and results in an ultra-refreshing brew that is absolutely perfect for summer sipping.  Speaking of sipping . . . we are going to get back to that and encourage you to pick up a sixer of Highland Stargazer so that you can do the same.  Prost!

 

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LOKO Cuisine to Host THAI- PA Eggs & Kegs Brunch at Cigar City Brewing

lokocuisinelogoOn Sunday, July 15 at 11 a.m., LOKO Cuisine will set up shop at Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, Florida) to treat attendees to a Thai-inspired, IPA-fueled Eggs & Kegs brunch that they have aptly named THAI-PA.

For this installment of Eggs & Kegs, John LoScalzo and the LOKO Cuisine crew will be showcasing their full arsenal of Thai flavors in the following “sweet, sour, salty and spicy” self-serve, four-course THAI-PA menu:

 

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To cover the IPA portion of this brunch, Cigar City will be pouring the following three hop-laden brews that have been infused with Thai culinary ingredients specifically for this event:

  • Jai Alai India Pale Ale with Lemongrass, Thai Basil & Chili 
  • Space Pope India Pale Ale with Buddha’s Hand Citrus & Ginger
  • Pants! Pants! Pants! Double India Pale Ale with Coconut & Kaffir Lime

All attendees will receive one beer ticket “good for any pint or snifter of equal value.” If you would like a beverage other than beer, Ginger Beard Coffee will also be on-site with nitro Thai coffee and tea on tap (coffee & tea not included in ticket cost).

Tickets for Eggs & Kegs: THAI-PA are available now for $32.10 each, and you can purchase yours by clicking here. Ticket cost includes the four-course brunch and one pour of beer (pint or snifter of equal value). Physical tickets will not be issued, but your name will be added to a paid list once the purchase process is completed. FYI: Everyone in your party will have to check in under the purchaser’s name at the door.

We are less than a week out from THAI-PA: Eggs & Kegs and tickets are somehow still available for this limited seating event.  Do yourself a favor and take advantage of this situation by securing your seats now because there is sure to be a sellout-creating mad scramble for tickets at any moment.  Make it happen.  Prost!

North Coast Brewing Brings Belgo-Style Dry-Hopped Pale Ale Back for the Summer

Belgo-yrbNorth Coast Brewing Co. (Fort Bragg, California) has officially announced that Belgo-Style Dry-Hopped Pale Ale is headed back to shelves and taps to serve as the brewery’s late-summer Seasonal.

Back for the second year in a row, Belgo-Style Dry-Hopped Pale Ale is a summer session beer that is actually a close relative to North Coast Brewing Co.’s award-winning Le Merle Saison.  Although these two beers share the same malt, hops and yeast, Belgo-Style Dry-Hopped Pale Ale is brewed with less grain (to lower the ABV to 4.1%) and undergoes a light dry hop stage with Mosaic and Citra hops to stand apart from its sister brew.  With these slight but impactful changes allowing Belgo-Style Dry-Hopped Pale Ale to offer “subtle aromas and flavors that smack of the tropics, . . . this take on Belgian Pale Ale showcases a perfectly carbonated marriage of hop spiciness and refreshing drinkability.”

“The twist we gave Belgo, which is absent in the very traditional Le Merle, was to lightly dry hop the beer using Mosaic and Citra hops, which confer a subtle, yet very satisfying hop aroma and flavor that finishes the beer nicely,” North Coast Brewmaster Patrick Broderick said. “Belgo is the perfect beer for lazing by the pool on those hot, summer days.”

Belgo-Style Dry-Hopped Pale Ale is available now and will be hanging around through the remaining months of summer.  You can expect to find this Seasonal offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California and throughout the rest of North Coast Brewing Co.’s distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Belgo-Style Dry-Hopped Pale Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.

Release – Seasonal/Limited, Summer 2018
Style – Belgian Pale Ale
ABV – 4.1%
IBUs – 27
Featured Hops – Mosaic & Citra
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://northcoastbrewing.com/beers/beer-locator/

Drum Circle Haze Slated to be Catawba Brewing’s First Distributed Hazy IPA

CatawbaDrumCircleCatawba Brewing Co. (Asheville, North Carolina) has officially announced that Drum Circle Haze Double IPA will enter limited distribution in the Asheville market beginning on Saturday, July 21.

Releasing as the latest offering from Catawba Brewing’s Cloud Cover Series and its first Hazy IPA to see distribution, Drum Circle Haze DIPA is a liquid celebration of a long-standing Asheville tradition that sees “hundreds gather beneath Pritchard Park’s painted skies to partake in the spectacle that is the Drum Circle.” Brewed with a hop bill comprised of Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, El Dorado, Falconer’s Flight and Huell Melon hops, Drum Circle Haze DIPA (8.4% ABV) is an “unfiltered juice bomb” that pays “tribute to the players, the dancers, the hula-hoopers, the spectators, who collectively summon a hazy state of rhythmic transcendence.”

Drum Circle Haze DIPA will officially release in the Asheville market on July 21 and will hang around as long as supplies last.  For this Limited Release, Catawba is sending just 100 cases of 4-packs of 16 oz. cans to Asheville-area stores. This means that Catawba Brewing Co. is “holding back only 20 cases for [its] Asheville tasting rooms.”  This one is guaranteed to disappear with a quickness once it hits shelves, so mark those calendars now and plan accordingly if you wish to partake in the Drum Circle Haze.  Prost!

Vital Information for Drum Circle Haze DIPA from Catawba Brewing Co.

Release – Limited/Cloud Cover Series; July 21, 2018
Style – Double India Pale Ale (New England-style)
ABV – 8.4%
Featured Hops – Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, El Dorado, Falconer’s Flight & Huell Melon
Availability – 4-packs of 16 oz. cans
Distribution – Available exclusively in the Asheville, North Carolina area

Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Schedules Bottle Release Event for Arcadiana Barrel-Aged Saison

creaturecomfortslogo_editedOn Saturday, July 21 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Creature Comforts Brewing Co. (Athens, Georgia) will close down its Tasting Room to host the very special Arcadiana Bottle Release Celebration.

Previously released as a “clean” (a.k.a. non-wild) Saison back in 2015, Arcadiana triumphantly returns later this month as “a saison brewed with American and European hops, that aged in wine barrels for one year with the brewery’s house-mixed culture of yeast and bacteria.”  This treatment results in a “soft, lightly tart” Saison that offers “citrus and berry notes on the palate.”

“Saisons are so tied to the land. It’s a seasonal beer that’s based on the farm from which the beers were made. We always try to loop in a local source to our farmhouse styles of beer.”

 

– Wood Cellar and Specialty Brand Manager Blake Tyers on the use of wine barrels sourced from Yonah Mountain Vineyards in Cleveland, Georgia

The Arcadiana Bottle Release Celebration will be a private, ticketed event held on July 21 in the Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Tasting Room. Tickets will be available through Xorbia beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 7 (click here for a direct link to the ticket page).  Tickets cost $60 each and include “36oz of beer to taste onsite with a special draft list, 2 bottles of Arcadiana to take home, small plates of food paired with the beer, and a vintage [Creature Comforts] Four Year Anniversary stemware. Guests will have the opportunity to purchase more bottles onsite” during the event.  You must be 21 or older to attend the Arcadiana Bottle Release Celebration and this is a “ticket holder only event.” Prost!

Vital Information for Arcadiana from Creature Comforts Brewing Co.

Release – Limited; July 21, 2018
Style – Saison
ABV – 6.2%
Treatment – Aged in wine barrels – sourced from Yonah Mountain Vineyards –  for one year with the brewery’s house-mixed culture of yeast & bacteria
Fun Fact – On Arcadiana’s name & label artwork: “The beer’s name is a reference to the poetic idea of Arcadia – a utopia where people live in harmony with the natural world. The label is a watercolor illustration created by local artist and Creature Comforts staff member Melissa Merrill.”
Availability – 750ml bottles
Distribution – None; available only at a ticketed, brewery-only bottle release event

Sprecher Brewing Company Introduces Hard Watermelon Soda

sprecherwatermelonSprecher Brewing Company (Glendale, Wisconsin) has officially announced the release of Hard Watermelon as the newest addition to its line of Hard Sodas.

Created as a follow-up to the non-alcoholic Watermelon Soda that Sprecher Brewing Company released back in May, Hard Watermelon “is a mildly carbonated beverage that begins with a tantalizing watermelon bouquet, is loaded with ‘just sweet enough’ watermelon flavors, and has a dry finish.” Weighing in at an easy-drinking 4.2% ABV, Hard Watermelon supplies its drinker with “an amazingly refreshing low alcohol soda that is a perfect thirst quencher for summertime, or anytime really.”  Soda lovers can enjoy this new offering chilled, over ice, or as a fun new mixer in cocktails.

“Watermelon is a popular beverage flavor this season. After we rolled out our non-alcoholic Watermelon soda we had enthusiastic responses from customers; many inquired about a hard soda version. We saw an opportunity in the market for a low alcohol soda and decided to do a limited run.” said Sprecher president Jeff Hamilton.

Hard Watermelon is rolling off the bottling line this week and will enter distribution any day now.  You can expect to find this Limited Release Hard Soda available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, Wisconsin and throughout the rest of Sprecher’s distribution area.  Prost!

Jester King Brewery Schedules Release of 2018 Atrial Rubicite

JKAtrialRubiciteOn Friday, July 6 at 4 p.m., Jester King Brewery (Austin, Texas) will host a special bottle release for Blend No. 8 of its highly sought-after Atrial Rubicite, a barrel-aged sour beer refermented with raspberries.

To create the 2018 blend of Atrial Rubicite, the crew at Jester King “racked 22 oak barrels of mature beer (about 1,320 gallons) onto 5,760 pounds of raspberries (4.4 pounds per gallon) in early April.”  After a six-week period of fruit refermentation, the beer was then packaged “and allowed it to naturally referment in bottles and kegs.”

Blend No. 8 of Atrial Rubicite will officially go on sale in Jester King’s Tasting Room at 4 p.m. on July 6.  Jester King has “about 6,500 bottles” of Atrial Rubicite available, and guests can purchase these 500ml bottles for $20 each (there will be a bottle limit of SIX (6) PER CUSTOMER PER DAY).  The brewery has also packaged “about 100 magnums this year, which [they] plan to do a lottery for some time in the next few weeks. Aside from special events, 2018 Atrial Rubicite will only be available at Jester King.”  Prost!

Vital Information for 2018 Atrial Rubicite (Blend No. 8) from Jester King Brewery

Release – Limited; July 6, 2018
Style – American Sour Ale
ABV – 5.5%
Treatment – Mature beer refermented for about six weeks on 5,760 pounds of raspberries
Availability – 500ml bottles ($20 each)
Bottle Limit – Six (6) bottles per customer per day
Distribution – None, brewery-only release

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Unibroue Launches Éphémère Strawberry & Rhubarb as New Seasonal

UnibroueEphemereSRUnibroue (Chambly, Québec) has officially released Éphémère Strawberry & Rhubarb as the newest installment in its Seasonal Éphémère Series.

Developed as the newest iteration of Unibroue’s “ephemeral ale that comes and goes with the seasons”, Éphémère Strawberry & Rhubarb (5.5% ABV) is the first Éphémère variant to feature two fruits.  “Pleasant strawberry and rhubarb flavors” combine with Éphémère’s Belgian-style White Ale base to create an experience “reminiscent of the pie that unites these two fruits.”

“When the idea came to me to combine two fruits for the very first time in a beer from our Éphémère series, it was natural for me to lean towards a blend of strawberries and rhubarb. The herbaceous and tart profile of rhubarb pairs up perfectly with the sweet taste and smooth scent of ripe strawberries. I see the result as a keepsake reminiscent of Spring and Summer memories. I hope it will bring sweet moments to your lips as well!”

 

– Jerry Vietz, Master Brewer at Unibroue

Éphémère Strawberry & Rhubarb is rolling out in the U.S. now and will be available as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this Seasonal offering at select craft beer retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida and throughout the rest of Unibroue’s distribution network in the U.S.  Prost!

Vital Information for Éphémère Strawberry & Rhubarb from Unibroue 

Release – Seasonal/Limited, launching July 2018
Style – Fruit Beer/Belgian-style White Ale
ABV – 5.5%
IBUs – 11
Added Ingredients – Strawberry & rhubarb
Recommended Glassware – Flute or Tulip
Suggested Food Pairings – “Curried chicken, pineapple ham, spinach salad, blue cheese, triple cream Brie cheese, pineapple upside-down cake, vanilla ice cream (float)”
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, on draft and in Unibroue’s seasonal variety six-pack
Beer Finder – https://www.unibroue.com/en/find-our-beers

Lagunitas Brewing Company Sends Super Cluster Out as Latest Limited Release

SuperCluster_12oz_Custom195x519_061818_01_JPFLagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) has officially introduced Super Cluster, A Citra-Hopped Mega Ale of Intergalactic Proportions, as the newest addition to its portfolio of Limited Releases.

Described by Lagunitas as a “galactic blast from the glass”, Super Cluster is an “out-of-this-world” Pale Ale brewed with “2-Row Malted Barley, a helluva lotta hops – Citra, Citra, Citra, and some more Citra, . . . and . . . dry-hopped . . . with 100% Citra.”  Clocking in at 8% ABV and 60 IBUs, Super Cluster promises to be a “Citra supernova in the sky, jettisoning lupulin lusciousness through the cosmos and across the universe of your palate.”

Super Cluster is gradually rolling out now and will hang around through September 2018.  You can expect to find this new Limited Release available in 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Super Cluster from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Release – Limited, July – September 2018
Style – American Pale Ale
ABV – 8%
IBUs – 60
Featured Hops – Citra
Availability – 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://lagunitas.com/beer-finder

 

Wicked Barley Brewing & Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company Collaborate on Two Summer Seasonals

 

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Above: School in the Summertime Shandy made with Natalie’s Natural Lemonade. Top: Natalie’s Blood Orange IPA made with Natalie’s Blood Orange Juice. (Image Credit: Wicked Barley Brewing Company)

Wicked Barley Brewing Company (Jacksonville, Florida) recently announced the release of two Seasonal offerings that have been brewed with or influenced by juices from Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice CompanyNatalie’s Blood Orange IPA and School in the Summertime Shandy.

When the folks at Wicked Barley Brewing Company made up their minds to create a couple citrus-driven Seasonals for the summer, they stood true to their commitment to “using local, fresh ingredients in [their] handcrafted brews” whenever possible by forming a “homegrown partnership” with another Florida company, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company.  Natalie’s Blood Orange Juice and Natalie’s Natural Lemonade, two “renowned high-quality citrus” juices from Natalie’s, were selected by Wicked Barley to inspire and star in these new Seasonal brews:

  • Natalie’s Blood Orange IPA: A refreshing summertime beer, brewed with fresh Natalie’s Blood Orange Juice and zest from fresh blood oranges and lemons. The crushable 6.5% IPA is a celebration of all things Florida and can be enjoyed on tap during the summer months at both Wicked Barley’s bar and Keg & Coin, Jacksonville’s video game bar.
  • School in the Summertime: A refreshing summertime lemon shandy made from tropical American wheat, brewed with lemon drop hops, and mixed with Natalie’s Natural Lemonade during the pour.

“We’re really excited to have discovered Natalie’s Juices,” said Wicked Barley co-owner and brewmaster, Philip Maple. “Their juices bring the exact, true, citrus notes we were looking for when crafting our special ales for summer. The lemon shandy has been so popular with our customers, we’ve had to return to production for additional brewing time!”

 

“Our minimally processed, minimal ingredient juices let the fruit do the talking,” said Natalie Sexton, VP of marketing and namesake of Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company. “And it’s that authentic citrus taste that makes our award-winning juices enjoyable on their own, in cocktail recipes, and in this case, as part of a wonderfully refreshing Wicked Barley summer ale. We love this collaboration and the opportunity to introduce craft beer lovers to our family of distinct, squeezed fresh juices.”

Natalie’s Blood Orange IPA and School in the Summertime will both be available on draft throughout the summer months.  Natalie’s Blood Orange IPA will be on tap in Wicked Barley’s taproom and at Keg & CoinSchool in the Summertime will be available exclusively at Wicked Barley Brewing Company.  Prost!