Of course, wading into the wide pool of beer options (even those unusual brews I’m suggesting) can be daunting. Which styles will you like? Which breweries do them the best? I’ve done a little research myself so I can try to narrow the field for you a bit.
I’m sharing my recommendations for some great – and maybe a little off-the-wall -- new beers.
Gluten-Free Ale-Dogfish Head Tweason’Ale
A gluten-free diet may be a staple for a lot of recent New Year’s resolutions, and Delaware’s Dogfish Head is well aware of that. Known for innovative and unique beers, the brewery strives to create a perfect draft for each season and this particular concoction is meant for the in-between season.
Released for the first time in late January 2012 (so it’s kind of new), Tweason’Ale replaces the barley base of beer with sorghum to accommodate beer lovers with gluten intolerance. Notes of molasses and strawberry combine for a sweet but quaffable brew, meant to liven up the dead months of winter between the lively holiday season and spring.
Keep an eye out for this brew in your local stores. Wherever you typically find Dogfish Head beers, you should be able to find this seasonal option starting in late January and through the winter months.
Baltic-Style Porter-Sixpoint 3Beans
Sixpoint Brewery, situated in Red Hook, Brooklyn, has been tied to their local community since they opened. In fact, they’re such locavores, they hosted a community garden on their roof recently, growing hops and other fruits and herbs to be used in their brews.
The brewery’s tendency toward local and fresh ingredients may be what led to the creation of 3Beans. A collaboration between three local businesses, this porter is brewed by Sixpoint and features Mast Brothers Chocolate and Stumptown Coffee. The combination is meant to resurrect an ancient brew referenced by Celtic lore. It’s a rich, dark ale with a well-blended mix of chocolate and coffee flavors.
Cans of 3Beans are newly available throughout Sixpoint’s distribution areas. You can visit their website to hunt down this new beer.
Tripel-New Belgium Heavenly Feijoa Tripel
Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, New Belgium Brewery is one of the largest craft breweries in the country and their Lips of Faith series includes some of the most sought-after brews – especially for those of us on the east coast where New Belgium is rarely available. But with their new location going up in North Carolina, that won’t be the case much longer.
Heavenly Feijoa Tripel is not only one of the brewery’s much-loved Lips of Faith brews, it’s also a collaboration with Montreal’s Dieu du Ciel. It’s a traditional style but with a twist (like all the Lips of Faith entries). Belgian yeast, Nelson Sauvin hops and Hibiscus deliver sweet fruit and tart cranberry flavors along with a spicy bite.
This Abbey-style Tripel was introduced in early 2013 and is available through March in several markets around the country.
Saison-21st Amendment Sneak Attack
Known for their cans and bold names, 21st Amendment in San Francisco prides itself for making bold, unique and handcrafted beers – much like the local breweries that existed prior to Prohibition. Sneak Attack is no exception.
The saison style is typically not one associated with winter. But 21st Amendment created this earthy brew specifically with that season in mind to give beer drinkers an alternative to the usual heavy, dark ales of the colder months. The grassy, dry flavors come from a combination of pilsner malt, Light Belgian Candi Sugar and saison yeast.
The cans were released in January and will also be available through March.
Black Lager-SingleCut Beersmiths Dark Lyric Lagrrr!
Not only is this a new beer, it’s also made by a brand new brewery. SingleCut opened their doors in Astoria, Queens late last year, touting themselves as the first fully operational micro-brewery in the borough since prohibition ended 80 years ago. While that title is disputable (two other small breweries opened in Queens just months prior), the brewery undoubtedly makes great beers.
Dark Lyric is the darker version of their flagship lager (19-33 Lagrrr!). Coffee aromas lead to molasses and chocolate flavors. This might remind you a bit more of a stout, but it’s a delicious brew perfect for winter months.
Availability is limited. Since they’re self-distributing, the brewery is bound by both geography and volume. But if you find yourself in Queens, I highly recommend dropping by their tasting room.
New To You
While I recommend seasonal and unique brews that would be new to many of you, it’s also worth taking a chance and trying something that you’ve never seen before. There are so many beers available throughout the country and abroad; it’s likely you’ll find something new to you – even if it’s not exactly new.
Give it a try – you never know what you may find. I would love to hear what your favorite new (or new-to-you) beers are this year.