Many beer drinkers attend the Great American Beer Festival in the hopes of discovering a new favorite beer or brewery, or perhaps uncovering a sudsy trend they can sound cool telling all their friends about. Not me. My assignment is to find some of the strangest—but still tasty—beers being poured. Here, six that are worth hunting down, whether you attend this year’s fest or not.
Electric Peel Grapefruit IPA (Magic Hat Brewing Company, Vermont): I’m typically not much of a fruity beer drinker. IPAs also aren’t on the top of my list (please, no judgments), but somehow Magic Hat combined both those tastes together into a perfect-after-a-fall-hike brew that’s refreshing (thanks to the grapefruit peel and pink grapefruit “flavor”) but also stays true to its IPA roots. Oh, and it’s available year-round.
Vanilla Rye Bourbon County Stout (Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago): First brewed in 2009, Goose Island has continued to tinker with this recipe. Aged in rye whiskey barrels and flavored with a blend of vanilla beans, this beer has a delightful aroma—and a hefty 13.8-percent ABV.
Lemongrass Luau (Kona Brewing Company, Hawaii): Adding a single herb to a beer isn’t all that strange, but Kona Brewing’s deft hand makes this a perfect taster before the fall chill really sets in. With a sun-yellow color, lemongrass aroma, and hints of wheat malt and citrus, this drinks light and crisp.
Pack Dog Peanut Butter Ale (Marley’s Brewery & Grille, Pennsylvania): If you love peanut butter, you’ll love the taste (and scent) of this true-to-its-main-ingredient ale. Caveat: I doubt that even I could drink a whole pint, and peanut butter is my jam (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Jalapeño Lena (Yak & Yeti Restaurant & Brewpub, Arvada): OK, so there’s nothing new about a chile beer. But we’re including this lightly hued take (with 3.5 pounds of Jalapeños in every barrel) because of head brewer Adam Draeger’s suggested way to drink it: with Bloody Mary mix. At Yak & Yeti, they call it a Bloody Lena. Order it at brunch this weekend.
Curious Cricket Cucumber-Basil Kölsch Style Ale (Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, Fort Collins): This year-old brewery has achieved something many other breweries have failed attempting: brewing a cucumber-based beer that actually tastes good. Using Northern Colorado ingredients, you can smell and taste the cucumber and basil, but they don’t take away from the traditional Kölsch base. Find it on tap at El Camino in LoHi; the brewers recommend pairing it with tacos al pastor.