How did your Dry January go? Good? Feeling parched?
The beer world has made something of a mockery of the New Year sobriety trend (thanks for the yuks, Fair State), and it’s easy to understand why: That wellness spree stands to cut their profit by one-twelfth every year. Moreover, the industry generally subsists on the idea that, Hey, drinkin’ ain’t so bad! so a cultural shift away from booze undercuts one of their main business narratives.
But kudos to those in the hooch industry who’ve embraced the idea of Dry January. Non-alcoholic beers are more common than ever and, for once, they actually taste good. This is an incredibly positive move for the industry’s overall growth, allowing it to cater to the sober partiers amongst us. Finally, you can have your beer and drink it too.
Indeed Sarah Jane’s Maple Sticks Stout
Stout, 10% ABV, 50 IBU
Forget the heart-shaped Russell Stover box this Valentine’s Day and get your honey a four-pack of Sarah Jane’s Maple Sticks Stout. Modeled after the delectable danish from Northeast’s Sarah Jane’s bakery, this syrup-thick 10% pastry stout from Indeed is overloaded with confectionary flavors. Cinnamon, vanilla, and maple fill the air when you pop the tab, and you can almost taste the fluffy browned doughnut after you quaff it down. Finally, a beer you can pair with coffee that isn’t… a coffee beer.
Able Modern Chemistry
Pale ale, 5.7% ABV, 6 IBU
Motion City Soundtrack is back, and they’ve booked out the hometown Fillmore Minneapolis for three straight nights starting February 15. To celebrate the return of this MP3 era emo-rock band, Able Seedhouse and Brewery threw all their Motueka and Azacca hops into the kettle and cooked up a hazy pale ale that you can smell from across the venue. The pithiness is magic, blooming up from the glass like a freshly pulverized grapefruit. Modern Chemistry takes its name from MCS’s 2003 breakout single and comes complete with a Spotify playlist compiled by the band. Scan the waveform on the can’s side and sip your way into a nostalgic stupor.
Pryes Above the Canopy
Double IPA, 8.3% ABV, 32 IBU
Pryes’ brande new Cartographer Collection is an exploration of unique, and sometimes extreme, flavors. The first release, Citra Snowcaps, was a heavy-handed dose of Citra, Galaxy, and Julius hops, but its successor, Above the Canopy, ventures further into the hoppy hinterlands. This hazy double dry-hopped double IPA tips the scales at 8.3% ABV, bursting with full-bore melon and grapefruit flavors. It’s brassier than the flavor wheel on the can would lead you to believe, wiedling and toffee-like malt flavor beneath all the leafy Mosaic flavor.
Lupulin Operation CoHoperation - Surly
Double IPA, 8.5% ABV, 50 IBU
I didn’t want to give Surly one single entry this month, so I gave them two half entries (see below). Big Lake’s Lupulin Brewing has been attracting a who’s who of collaborators since launching their Operation CoHoperation series last year, but they finally bagged the big one with their fifth edition, a hyper-fruity double IPA. This big-name team up definitely falls more on the Lupulin side of the flavor spectrum, with its fat currents of Citra juiciness. Though the rebranded Surly has experimented with going full haze bomb, they’ve yet to do it, but sharing a can with Lupulin has allowed them to tread new ground, which should come as a delight to fans of the Big Lake brewery.
Surly/Tattersall Darkness Bierschnapps
Schnapps, 20% ABV, n/a IBU
As we learned in December, I am unafraid of messing with the format here at Local Suds, and so this month, we feature our first liquor. Of course, it’s a beer-adjacent liquor, as this special collaboration between Surly and Tattersall is distilled from 600 gallons of Darkness. That’s right, Darkness. Tattersall crams two bottles of Darkness into a single vessel of this toffee-flavored spirit, distilling the imperial stout down to its very essence. You still get those dark chocolate and toffee flavors that sleep inside Darkness, but with the carbonation and malt flavors removed, there’s a big herbal base that appears. Anise, cardamom, and licorice all storm to the forefront. Darkness Biershnapps may be twice as strong as Darkness, but it’s 100 times more rare. Only 1,200 bottles were produced, so grab it if you see it.
Brewers interested in being featured in Local Suds should email [email protected].