By Sage Lazzaro
Beer drinkers, rejoice: I’m here to recommend some craft brews that will impress both you and your beer snob friends. Don’t worry, you can trust me: I’m a food-and-drink writer and a huge lover of all things beer, but my strongest qualification is that I essentially spent last Friday night in a massive round of beer speed-dating.
I attended the NYC Craft Beer Festival held at The Armory on the corner of Lexington and 26th, where I tried just shy of 150 different craft beers produced by 75 breweries from around the world. This all happened over the course of three hours, so it’s safe to say I was feeling the buzz. But I did manage to jot down some handy notes on the drinks I liked best. Here are five craft beers you’ve probably never heard of but should definitely try.
This hazy gold German Wheat is packed with flavor, featuring subtle notes of lemon, banana, apple, black pepper, and spicy clove. Unfiltered and cloudy with yeast, it’s downright refreshing and has an ABV of 4.8%. I would drink this beer over and over again, and apparently I’m not the only one: In 2012, DreamWeaver Wheat took home the gold medal in its category at the Great American Beer Festival.
This shandy just launched in the U.S. this past April, and I’m so glad it did. I’m not typically a fan of ciders, shandys, or other sweet and fruity beers, but this 50/50 blend of grapefruit soft drink and Warsteiner Premium German Pilsner has changed my mind. It delivers a nicely balanced, mildly hoppy taste with a clean, citrus finish. Like most shandys, it sports a low ABV of 2.5%, so consider it a beverage to cool you down on a hot summer day rather than one to get you tipsy.
The first drink I tried at the festival, this beer stayed in my top five the entire time, its unique flavor growing more intriguing with every sip. The 6.2% ABV American IPA is light with a lovely aroma, some fruity notes, and some piney hops. It’s so drinkable I could go for another right now.
10 Barrel Brewing produces this single hop American pale ale that now numbers among my favorite beers. Boasting a higher ABV of 6.3% and a beautiful amber color, Riding Solo is sure to ignite your senses. You can smell notes of grapefruit, lemon, apricot, pine and sweet caramel, and taste the hoppy crispness to match. Riding Solo is on rotating availability, so if you stumble upon it, grab it while you can.
This straightforward lager from Braven Brewing Company is perfect for the summer but would still be great year-round. It has a crisp taste and 5.5% ABV. The flavor starts dry and finishes with grassy, herbal bitterness. There’s not a lot of hops in this beer, but if that’s what you’re looking for, Braven’s White IPA is delicious as well.
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