New (to me) Brews
The things this week's line-up have in common is that they are all 100 percent American, they are all worthy of your attention, and this is the first time I've tried any of the three. That's because two of them are recent arrivals, and one of them has somehow escaped my attention for longer than I'd care to admit. No matter. In a season that is notably lacking in new releases, this trio provided some pleasant surprises.
This is the one that's not new to Boise (OK, it's been on local shelves for more than a year now), but somehow I've overlooked it. My loss. It sports a rich and creamy head over a bright amber brew. Smooth and well balanced, soft malt leads off, backed by subtle hops. It's a fairly subdued brew, easy to like but meant for consumption rather than contemplation. A good all-around amber that offers a nice richness in a thirst-quenching style. That it's organic is a nice plus.
When this brewery brought out the original Session Lager in its retro design stubby bottle, it found an immediate and wide spread audience. Stylistically it hearkened back to those imminently drinkable brews that dotted the landscape before the few conglomerates took over. With Session Black they are stepping things up a notch. Dark ebony in color with just a light lacing on top, it has appealing dark roast coffee and bittersweet chocolate aromas. Surprisingly rich malt flavors of toffee and cocoa come through on the palate with a well integrated hit of hop bitterness. A light touch of citrus comes through on the finish. Makes for a nice addition to the Session's brand.
Stone is officially a teenager, and this brewery, not known for its subtlety, decided to celebrate with the release of its first- ever Imperial Double Red. It pours a dark coffee with a persistent toffee-colored head that tops an ale weighing in at 90-plus International Bitterness Units. Hops at that level can be painful, but this one hovers just below the masochistic threshold. You'll enjoy citrus and pine resin on the nose, with the latter dominating the palate. Beautifully bitter but well balanced by toffee laced malt. Hops lovers will definitely find this one worthy.