November Craft Beer Report – New Belgium, Wicked Weed, Burial, Good People, Blue Pants
Whether a brewery sends me a courtesy sample, I visit a brewery on a press trip, or I just stop in a brewery because beer, I sample a lot of beer. Each month, I summarize my favorites in a monthly craft beer report. My November Craft Beer Report, in particular, is special as I visited the beer mecca of Asheville and traveled to Alabama, a state that I predict will be home to the next explosive beer scene.
Burial Beer Surf Wax IPA (Draught, ABV – 6.5%, IBU – 80)
- Where: Burial Beer’s taproom in Asheville, NC
- With: This was the lone IPA in a flight of saisons and a plate of Flemish Rabbit Stew from Salt and Smoke, Burial’s onsite food truck.
- Notes: Burial Beer is continually one of my favorite breweries in Asheville. I’m a big saison fan. Yet, of the five beers in my flight (three of which where saisons), it was the IPA that stood out the most. It’s what one would expect of an IPA from a brewery known for saisons. It was beautiful and balanced with mouthwatering tropical fruit notes and a touch of snappiness. Also available in cans.
Wicked Weed Brewing Omnipresence (Draught, ABV – 9.0%)
- Where: Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium in Asheville, NC
- With: The welcome background of a bluegrass band
- Notes: I still haven’t found a US brewery that produces funky and sour beers with the balance and perfection like those from Wicked Weed Brewing. You know, the kind that won’t strip the enamel from your teeth. The Omnipresence is oak foeder-aged sour ale fermented with one pound per gallon of Cabernet grapes. There’s an extra grape juiciness from the barrels that creates a nice round body to the beer, leaving it with a dry, tannic finish. This beer would pair perfect with lamb or game. The funk would balance out any gaminess, and the heartiness would stand up to the red meat. Also available in bottle.
New Belgium Brewing Bretta IPA (Draught, ABV – 7.5%, IBU – 75)
- Where: New Belgium Brewing in Asheville, NC
- With: A flight of sour and funky beers and my laptop to catch up on work
- Notes: After a lackluster visit to New Belgium Brewing’s new tasting room (sorry, but when Sierra Nevada delivers with a facility in Asheville like they did, I expected more from New Belgium) and a flight of beers that were all good, not great, the Bretta IPA made my head snap in delight. This was a perfectly executed beer. Beautiful nose with a nice melody of citrus and floral notes. A well-balanced combination of funk, bread, and soft malts with a clean finish. Also available in bottle.
Good People Brewing Belgian SMASH (Draught, ABV – 5.1, IBU – 50)
- Where: Good People Brewing in Birmingham, AL
- With: A flight of various Good People Brewing Beers during an escape from the in-laws on Black Friday.
- Notes: This was a fun one. Good People Brewing produced side-by-side SMASHs (single malt, single hop beers) – a SMASH Simcoe and a Belgian SMASH. The only difference between the two was the yeast strain. The Belgian created a beer that was more alive. The bready yeast drew out the passionfruit character even more and helped define the woodsy nature of the hop. Brewery only release.
Blue Pants Brewery Weedy’s Double IPA (Draught, ABV – 8.5%, IBU – 75)
- Where: Loosa Brews in Tuscaloosa, Alabama – Probably one of the coolest bottle shops / beer bars I’ve been to
- With: The Alabama vs Auburn game
- Notes: With Weedy’s recent resignation as Blue Pants Brewery Head Brewer (he left to help start up a brewery in Arizona), I couldn’t pass this one up as it very well could be one of the last Double IPAs that he helped brew at Blue Pants. I interviewed Weedy back in February and found him to be one of the most brilliant brewers I’ve met. It was everything I expected. Refreshing grapefruit notes in a DIPA that was not overly bitter. In fact, it was dangerously delicate and drinkable. Well done Weedy! Huntsville will miss you. Also available in bottle.