Beer is an unorthodox object to fetishize. When you see a half-dozen men dressed from business to bro, outpacing each other in a parking lot on their lunch break for a few remaining limited-release beers, how else can this phenomenon be described? Our no. 1 beer to buy is eliciting this response all over Los Angeles County right now.
While the end of summer is usually characterized by back-to-school and shorter days, in the beer world it's anniversary season. Many breweries offer a beer in August or September that celebrates the number of years or batches they've been in business. Hoppy beers are in their peak rotation, when it's a little late for Hefeweizens and Witbiers but too early for Oktoberfest or Pumpkin Ales.
For the casual beer drinker who doesn't fetishize or fanaticize, there are new releases to stumble easily upon. The majority of our list showcases trending hoppy beers, but the one that does not is the perfect antidote to an embittered palate. Use this guide to help you navigate the shelves for California beer: Drinking locally is good for business, good for you, and wonderfully bad for your sobriety. In order of availability.
5. 16th Anniversary IPA, Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido):
Availability: August Limited Release
Specs: Double IPA. 10.0% ABV; 85 IBUs. Made with rye, Amarillo and Calypso hops, and Lemon Verbena. Released August 13th.
Why You'll Like It: If you crave bitter and resinous beers, this is the one for you. Rye adds nice spice and lemon verbena is subtle, though anytime lemon and piney hops come together it's an open invitation for floor cleaner comparisons.
4. A Little Sumpin' Wild Ale, Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Petaluma):
Availability: Early August Limited Release
Specs: Belgian Strong Ale. 8.8% ABV; 72.5 IBUs. Malted wheat and Westmalle yeast.
Why You'll Like It: The brewer claims it smells like bubble gum (a welcome effect of the Belgian yeast), but unless he meant citrus bubble gum, your experience may be different. Discernible funk over aromatic hops makes this Belgo/ Strong Ale a fun genre-bender.
Where to Buy It: Sunset Beer Co., 12 oz. bottles.
3. Aroma Coma IPA, Drake's Brewing Co. (San Leandro):
Availability: August Limited Release
Specs: India Pale Ale. 6.75% ABV; 75 IBUs. Made with Caramalt and 2-Row Barley Malt. Hops include Cascade, Chinook, CTC, Citra. Double dry-hopped.
Why You'll Like It: Hops are refreshing, bright, pleasant -- not like you're being physically assaulted by a pine tree. Balance is exemplary and tropical notes quench your thirst while conjuring up visions of hammocks and sandy beaches.
Where to Buy It: Beverage Warehouse, 22 oz. bottles.
2. Double DBA, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (Paso Robles):
Availability: Late July Limited Release
Specs: Imperial Special Bitter. 12% ABV; 29 IBUs. Made with British Ale Yeast, double dose of DBA's malt and hop line-up. Partially fermented and aged 12 months in oak and bourbon barrels.
Why You'll Like It: As you can see, late summer is saturated with hoppy beers. Firestone boldly asserts that your summer doesn't have to have a bitter end. Balanced and drinkable, this is the perfect sipping beer at twilight.
1. Enjoy By 9.21.12 IPA, Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido):
Availability: Very Limited Release, available August 17.
Specs: Double IPA. 9.4% ABV undisclosed IBUs. Simcoe, Delta, and Amarillo bittering hops; Motueca, Citra, and Cascade flavoring hops; dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy.
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Why You'll Like It: Stone is synonymous with hoppy beers. This one is meant to be consumed immediately (hence the name) and does an especially good job of reminding you why the brewery is so commonly aligned with the bitter stuff. Using a "hop-bursting" technique, they delay the addition of hops in the whirlpool to emphasize flavor over bitterness.
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