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3 Flavorful Beer Trends for 2014

Where there’s smoke, there’s beer. Taste the trend with Alaskan Brewing Co. and Stone Brewing’s Smoked Porters. Photograph by Jesse Narducci. 

The Trend: Barrel-Aged Sours

Think sour beers are so last year? Try again. Recent developments—think fruit-based, barrel-aged sours—feel new and improved, thanks to more complex, tart flavors. The secret ingredient is Brettanomyces (“Brett”) yeast, which ups the ante, thanks to notable farmhouse funk.

Try: Our local offerings are hard to beat. Try Almanac Brewing’s Valley of the Heart’s Delight, brewed with foraged apricots, loquats, and cherries, and The Rare Barrel’s Ensorcelled, a blend of red and black ales brewed with raspberries. 

The Trend: Boozy Ginger Beer

Alcoholic ginger beer is a staple in the United Kingdom and is ready to make cider-like waves stateside. It’s a dangerously drinkable concoction, and the spicy-sweet brews are perfect for beer cocktails.

Try: The Brits dominate here, with popular brews such as Crabbie’s and Robinsons’ Ginger Tom, found locally at BevMo!. Our favorite, though, hails from Japan—Kiuchi Brewery’s Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Brew has an herbal spiciness to balance out the sweetness. Find it at Healthy Spirits in the Castro. 

The Trend: Smoked Beer

Rauchbier, brewed with malts smoked over an open beechwood fire, is a German beer-making tradition. But U.S. breweries have taken the practice and run wild, creating flavorful, unique brews laced with balanced hints of smoke.

Try: Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Smoked Porter is one of our favorites—the dark, full-bodied beer was released in November and ages very well. We also love Stone Brewing’s Smoked Porter, which is brewed with peat-smoked malts, and The Bruery’s Smoking Wood series, which includes malts smoked over cherrywood and aged in bourbon and rye barrels. Find them at California Craft Beer and City Beer Store

This article was published in 7x7's February issue. Click here to subscribe!