A three day weekend is swiftly approaching – and plenty of beer drinking with it. Lucky for you, this is one of the most exciting weeks we've seen for beer releases, and every selection we've featured is unique and large-format.
If you're looking for beers you can take generous pulls of on your day off Monday, look to Eagle Rock's latest refresher or Karl Strauss' clever twofer. Need a hop bomb to impress buddies? Figueroa Mountain has landed a bottle in L.A., just in time for a weekend of day drinking. AleSmith and Cigar City provide a collaboration that will whet your appetite for barbecue. Firestone Walker pulls out the big guns with one of the most anticipated bottle releases of 2014. Here are five California beers to buy now, from south to north.]
5. Mosaic Session Ale, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. (San Diego)
Session IPA; 5.5%
Karl Strauss brilliantly engages two popular beer trends with this new bottle from their Coastal Reserve series. They've produced a low-alcohol beer (session IPAs have flooded the market in the last six months), and emphasized a single hop variety (Mosaic is an aromatic hop related to Simcoe). Mosaic Session does a fantastic job of establishing a hop presence and lowering alcohol content, while still maintaining balance.
4. Ramblin' Rye, AleSmith and Cigar City (San Diego)
Brown ale with rye; 8.5%
Ramblin' Rye is the second release in the Coast-2-Coast Collaboration series between AleSmith and Cigar City (Tampa, FL). Brewed in the traditional German roggenbier style using hefty quantities of rye, this rich brown beer has nutty, dark chocolate flavors and a dry, coffee finish. Bi-coastal brewers have joined talents to produce a delightfully drinkable beer that isn't obnoxiously offbeat, as we see with some collaborations. A great one for pairing with grilled food (or cigars).
3. Ginger Saison, Eagle Rock Brewery (Eagle Rock)
Saison with ginger root; 5.3%
Attendees of last weekend's Vegan Beer Festival enjoyed this farmhouse ale in its natural habitat – a scorching Southern California day. The ginger addition adds flavor but not heat to the hazy, straw-colored beer. A touch of lemon keeps the beer light and zingy, and the aftertaste is very mild. Reasonably low in alcohol, you can commit to the whole bottle yourself or spread the love. Best enjoyed outside, in the sun, on a holiday weekend.[
2. Lizard's Mouth, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. (Buellton)
Imperial IPA; 9.2%
We're excited to see our Santa Barbara County neighbors make their way into the L.A. beer market. Figueroa Mountain has enjoyed substantial success the last few years, medaling multiple times at both the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. Lizard's Mouth, available in bottles for the first time, is a big, hoppy beer with plenty of tropical fruit aromatics and juicy citrus hop flavors. Many hop bombs are exhaustively bitter – we like that this one conjures visions of cabana boys and Capri Suns instead of vengeful pine trees.
1. Stickee Monkee, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (Paso Robles)
This Central Coast Quad, as the brewers describe it, has been a recurring barrel-aged brew at Firestone Walker. Stickee Monkee is a single component beer that's blended into the brewery's anniversary series, and before now has only been available intermittently at the taproom in Paso Robles and Barrelworks in Buellton. Debuting in bottles this week (with a nifty display box), it's sure to satisfy barrel worshipers who, until now, have had to pilgrimage to sample it. Stickee Monkee is high in alcohol and must be sipped slowly; let it warm in your hand so all the notes of toasted oak and tobacco dance their way into your senses.