Kick (Collaboration with Elysian), 8.5% ABV: This tart ale, made with pumpkins and cranberries, gave me pause before I dove in. As one who is not the biggest pumpkin beer fan, I was hesitant. But to my relief, it was not heavy handed or over-spiced. Nicely tart yet full flavored, I can see how this was a hit in the fall. The tart fruitiness of the cranberry keeps the pumpkin in check and is a clever addition to the mix.
2012 La Folie, 6% ABV: A perennial favorite of mine, La Folie was one of my first and favorite forays into sour beers. And a tribute to the amazing things that happen in an oak barrel. Aged for 1-3 years in French oak, the La Folie is the brainchild of Peter Bouckaert, who came from the famous and beloved Rodenbach in Belgium. Full notes of cherry, oak, and caramel, with a refreshing dry finish, this is an American Craft beer classic.
Vrienden (Collaboration with Allagash), 8.5% ABV : I spoke with Lauren Salazar about this beer in particular (the name means "friends" in Flemish), which I loved for its elegant restraint and a distinct familiarity I couldn't place. Made with hibiscus flowers, which attributed to aroma, flavor, & color, the Vrienden is a lovely beer with pleasant fruitiness, low-level tartness, and high-level drinkability. A marvelously approachable beer, I could see this at a Sunday brunch or as an welcome addition to afternoon "teatime".
(Turns out the familiarity I was feeling was all too legitimate. I drank hibiscus tea daily in Australia years ago when I lived there, but have not had it since. When I stuck my nose in the glass, and then tasted, I said, "I know this smell, this flavor. What is it?" Definitely an "Aha!" moment when it was revealed as hibiscus!)
Tart Lychee, 8.5% ABV: Undoubtedly a crowd favorite of the evening. In fact, eager eyes peered towards the bar for several hours on that sunny San Diego afternoon, waiting for the official tapping. A blend of their barrel-aged sour, lychee puree and surprisingly, cinnamon sticks, makes for a most interesting, yet utterly delicious beverage. Bright and refreshing, with a fruity explosion in the aroma & flavor, balanced tartness and just a hint of spice, this is deceptively drinkable and a must try. (Can't wait to have this on tap at Lumberyard Tavern!!)