Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
The weather this week in our area was… well, apparently it was par for the course in 2014; we just traded one form of precipitation for another. Regardless of whether you enjoy a rainy day or not, they often present a good opportunity to catch up with your interests, like books, movies, television, music — or beer. If you’re looking for something new to try the next time some showers cancel your plans, think about one of these:
Port City Ways & Means: I just got to try this new beer from Alexandria’s Port City this week, and it’s a winner. At 4.5 percent ABV and plenty of earthy, fruity hop character, what sets Ways & Means apart from other Session IPAs is the generous use of rye malt in it. I’m a sucker for rye malt beers, and this one comes through with the right amount of bready, spicy notes giving the hops something different to play off of. Currently available as a draft beer only, try to find yourself with a growler of Ways & Means next time the clouds open up.
Mother Earth Dark Cloud Dunkel: Not only is the name perfect for a rainy day beer, but the style is dead-on as well. Few American craft brewers are making a Dunkel Lager in the German tradition, and this one from Mother Earth in North Carolina is outstanding. Dark Cloud is smooth and even in feel on the palate, with just the right amounts of nutty and caramel flavors from its malts. At just over 5 percent ABV, Dark Cloud may not be a Session beer, but a couple won’t put the beating on you that some others will.
Hardywood Capital Trail Pale Ale: This new six-pack from Hardywood in Richmond is an early contender for my Beers of the Year list. At 5.6 percent ABV and 50 IBU, Capital Trail hits my Pale Ale happy place mostly by not feeling like a beer that might as well have been made into an IPA. Malt flavors are present without pushing the boundaries of sweetness; the hops are upfront but the focus isn’t on the super-bitter or fruity big hop notes. This is a Pale Ale with lots of “foresty” earthy aromas and flavors, and is just about perfect with the smell of wet grass and recent rainfall in the air. It comes in cans too, so there’s a plus.
Blue Mountain Kolsch 151: If you’re out on a boat fishing this summer, and the skies happen to open up a bit, this is the first thing I’d want to be able to pull out of my cooler. The Kolsch style, combining the bright, fruit-driven notes of Ales with the ease-of-drinking and smooth body of Lagers, is a natural fit when a storm charges through a hot day, bringing a momentary cold snap that can make many beers feel suddenly heavy. Also available in cans, Kolsch 151 is a great all-purpose spring/summer beer.
Victory Storm King: You didn’t think I’d miss a pun opportunity like that, did you? Perhaps a better fit for colder seasons, Storm King is one of the finest Imperial Stouts made in the U.S., and as a cold rainy day beverage not only provides the right level of warmth, but some of the most balanced chocolate and roasty malt flavors you can buy.
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