Best New Beer Releases of 2014

A look at some of last year's best new brews

Best New Beer Releases of 2014

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.

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.

Anderson Valley: The Kimmie, The Yink and the Holy Gose

Gose-style beer was everywhere in 2014. Among one of the best salty, sour, tart brews was Anderson Valley’s canned entry, The Kimmie, The tart sourness comes from lemons with a follow-up of tart berry on the back. The briny finish lingers just long enough making it an easy-to-drink example of how good Gose can be.

Foothills: Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout

Fans line up outside the North Carolina brewery days in advance just to guarantee a taste of the Foothills’ newest release. Released just in time for Valentine’s Day 2014, this brew is heavy on chocolate coffee flavor rich with molasses and sweet toffee notes. Plus, the label is ‘70s cool at its best.

The Bruery: Black Tuesday Imperial Stout gave The Bruery Black Tuesday Imperial Stout a 100-point rating and suggested it as an ideal beer to share with friends. The name may imply differently, but there is nothing dark about the Bruery’s 2014 release. It’s rich in complex flavors of caramel, burnt sugar, prunes, toasted malt, and vanilla.

Summit: Southern Cape Sparkling Ale

Southern Cape Sparkling Ale was the third beer from Summit Brewing Company’s limited-release Union Series. This one introduced the rare Southern Passion hops from South Africa, which helped create gentle aroma of pineapple and mango, while malts from Chile and Australia provide a soft toasted note and rounded finish.

Center of the Universe Brewing: Shut Up Imperial Stout

You’ve got to love something that tastes so good, it shuts the whole room up. When brewers at Center of the Universe got together to taste this brew — which was aged in bourbon barrels that had also aged port before working their magic on the beer — they loved the depth of flavor so much, it silenced the room.

August Schell Brewing Company: Black Forest Cherry

August Shell is known for producing deliciously sour beers, which were a hit in 2014. Their Black Forest Cherry was a favorite of locals for the tart cherry favor that came from being aged in 1930s cypress tanks first and with 5,000 pounds of cherries second.

Koochenvagner Brewing Company: Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA

Gayot named the Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA one of the best releases of the spring. This is a craft dry-hopped brew with bright bursts of refreshing grapefruit zest and lasting flavor. Released on February 10, 2014, this over-the-top IPA from Koochenvagner is actually a project of Stone Brewery. The one-time offering came and went, but the lucky few who got it on draft or in 22-ounce bottles won’t soon forget it.

Seattle Cider: Gin Botanical

Cider also saw a big boom in 2014. Major producers all threw their apple seeds in the game, but Draft magazine called Seattle Cider’s Gin Botanical the best of the bunch. It’s got all you want in a cider beer, but it’s crafted with gin botanicals. It’s a gin & tonic / beer / cider hybrid that makes for a mouthful of apple, lemon, and cucumber deliciousness.