Each new season brings new food and drink bounty, and part of that bounty is beer. Breweries across the country release new brews every year. Some celebrate new flavors, others nod to old techniques, and still others are just plain curious about what would happen if they mixed this with that.
Breweries like Dogfish Head continued to experiment with the beer/wine hybrid, while others like Anderson Valley, Almanac Beer Co., and Westbrook Brewing turned to tradition with variations on Gose. the German-style tart wheat brew that usually involves wild yeast fermentation. In the case of Anderson Valley, there are lemons involved, leading to a sweet, salty, astringent drink that leaves you both scratching your head and asking for more. The trend was big enough for even Samuel Adams to pay attention. They released their Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru and took advantage of their 150-year old brewery’s wild yeast to make it.
Another trend in 2014 was barrel-aged beer. Barrels that once held rum, wine, or even brandy saw a second (and even third) life at breweries including Bell’s and Center of the Universe in Ashland, Virginia, where a barrel-aged new release turned its brewers speechless.
Session IPAs also had their day. Firestone Walker released their summer session IPA, Easy Jack, brewed with a “globetrotting selection” of hops from Europe, New Zealand, and North America.
For Sierra Nevada, choosing just one trend to be a part of was not an option. Instead, they invited every craft brewery in the country to join in on a Beer Camp Across America. In honor of the festival, Sierra Nevada partnered with a dozen craft breweries to create 12 different beers for the ultimate mix-tape-style 12-pack (10 bottles and two cans) for a real “Kumbaya” moment in beer-making.
No matter what your preference is, there was a beer for you in 2014. Here is a look at some of the best releases of the year.
New Glarus: Oud Bruin
New Glarus is dedicated to producing fruit-spiked beers created in the oud bruin Belgian style. Named in honor of the age-old method of making beer, Oud Bruin is a perfect marriage of sweet and tart thanks to brown sugar and cherries. Toasted malt and oaky richness add complexity and flavor, making this a great new beer that nods to tradition.
Samuel Adams: Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru
When the team at Sam Adams announced the release of their 2014 Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Crew, they said they felt like they were “releasing the Kraken.” Boston’s big boys took a trip around the world with this one. It’s a unique Belgian-style ale, brewed and fermented with multiple microorganisms found in the historic 150-year old Boston Brewery. Then it’s aged in Hungarian oak tuns for over a year. It’s a brew so good, they took it on tour. Seriously.