March 8, 2017

Beers To Cheer: February 2017

Here's we go with another month's picks for our "Beers To Cheer" from the Arkansas brewing scene! And we've got a little treat for you this month... not only are Michael, Brian and I telling you what pair of brews we got giddy over this month, but we've also got our first GUEST PICKER, one Mr. Steve Shuler from Rock City Eats *insert applause*.

So check out a whopping 8 total choices from these 4 Arkansas beer lovers for you to get out and discover for yourself! And if you missed last month's edition, by all means check it out right here: Beers To Cheer: January 2017.

Steve Shuler (@Steve_Shuler):

Rebel Kettle Barrel-Aged Wake'n'Flake - Wake ‘n’ Flake is one of the brews that put Rebel Kettle on the map. Before there was the best taproom/patio in Little Rock, John Lee and his companions brewed this excellent coffee and coconut cream stout ale for festivals around the state, quickly earning a reputation for Rebel Kettle as an adventurous and fearless beer maker. February’s barrel-aged version pushes the envelope again in two important ways. First, it’s everything a barrel beer should be; full, robust, but letting the original brew shine through instead of submitting it. Second, it embraces the lower ABV that few barrel-aged brews enjoy. The flavor is as big as a 10-percent brew, but at less than 6 percent ABV, it’s a beer that lets you enjoy the big taste without making you stop drinking sooner than you’d like. This one is off tap now, but you’ll be able to taste it again at the brewery’s one-year anniversary on April 1st. It’s a beer that will be worth the April Fool’s trip all by itself.

Moody Brews Katchiri's Bier 2017 - Even though he’s departed Little Rock for Northwest Arkansas and Bike Rack Brewing Company, it’s safe to say we’re fortunate to have a brewer in our state like Josiah Moody. Very few brewers anywhere (and I mean anywhere) have his knack for creating perfectly balanced brews with both technical and artistic expertise. His latest iteration of Katchiri’s Bier is no exception. Originally envisioned as a nuanced farmhouse saison, Moody has developed it into this gorgeous monster of an ale. Eclipsing 9 percent ABV, this year’s Katchiri’s Bier is still mellow and smooth, with an unmistakably buttery finish. Moody decided to age this one in gin barrels from Rock Town Distillery, and my goodness, what a choice that turned out to be. The leftover floral notes are the perfect accompaniment in Moody’s final Little Rock symphony. This beer is almost gone (Legacy Wine and Spirits still has it for growler fill-up), but the impact Moody made on our beer scene won’t fade anytime soon.

Scott (@WooPigBrewey):

Stone's Throw Biere de Gras - This is one that was requested by the Cajun/Creole restaurants in town for release leading up to Fat Tuesday. It's based on their biere de garde recipe but made to a more "sessionable strength." It has a wonderful toasted aroma and the flavor is a super easy-to-drink sweet malt and toasty caramel with warrior and saaz hops dancing around in the mix. A great beer to drink during Mardi Gras celebrations or paired with crawfish and spicy gumbo dishes. It definitely made my Fat Tuesday a little (a lot?) fatter.

Flyway Lord God Imperial Chocolate Stout -This big 11% imperial chocolate stout was a lot easier to find than the elusive Ivory-Billed Woodpecker for which it's named, but it disappeared (from my glass) pretty quickly. Dangerously drinkable for a huge beer, only slightly boozy, it's a full-bodied chocolate stout aged on a copious amount of fresh roasted Izard Chocolate cacao nibs. Why yes, I'll have a glass of liquefied, chocolate alcohol please.

Brian (@EBSorensen):

Ozark Beer Co. Onyx Coffee Stout - Lost amidst the hype of bigger, bolder beers from Ozark – such as the Rogers brewery’s Double IPA and the forthcoming BDCS 2017 – are smaller, more sessionable beers that have been there since day one. My personal favorite, and one I filled a growler with in mid-February, is Onyx Coffee Stout. The cream stout base is superbly complimented by cold brewed coffee provided by on-the-rise roaster Onyx Coffee Lab. Some coffee beers are nuanced, but this one screams java in every way possible. A velvety backdrop of chocolate and dark fruit is punctuated by roasted coffee notes. I could literally drink this one all day long, starting alongside my bacon and eggs in the morning.

Flyway Bluewing Berry Wheat - Back on February 4th I attended Frost Fest 2017 in Fayetteville, a gloriously freezing beer festival hosted by Fossil Cove Brewing Co. I could name any number of double IPAs, sours, or barrel-aged brews that I sampled on that day, but cutting through the haze and standing out with its pure simplicity was the flagship beer from North Little Rock’s Flyway Brewing Co. – Bluewing Berry Wheat. This easy drinker provided the necessary balance to a boozy, high-consumption day. A crisp body and tart blueberry effervescence scrubbed the tongue. Witbier is a much-maligned style that gets no respect, particularly when laced with fruit. However, Flyway pulls it off in such a way that even the manliest of men can drink Bluewing without fear of embarrassment. It is – quite simply – a well-made beer.

Michael (@fayettebrew):

Apple Blossom Bloodhound English Barleywine - This barleywine from Apple Blossom’s Brian Youngblood was one of the first beers I had in February and it made an impression that has stayed fresh in my mind all month. The English style elements keep Bloodhound strong but malty and smooth - smoother than most American style barleywines - which is appreciable regardless of whether the February weather is frigid or friendly. For a style that does not always get a lot of play in our state, this is a welcomed sight on the Apple Blossom chalk board. [Still on tap at ABBC as of this post.]

Fossil Cove Saturday Series #3: Shiny Green Bullet - Fossil Cove’s Saturday Series brings the staff who typically handle the non-brewing responsibilities of the business into the Brewdizzle (the name for Fossil Cove’s brewing space) to incorporate their style and flavor into the lineup in the form of a small batch release. The third in this series features the New Zealand Green Bullet hop in a way that lends a refreshing lime flavor to an overall easy drinking beer.  Seemingly readymade for the hotter months ahead, Shiny Green Bullet is also an excellent beer for introducing someone to the less bitter and dank side of hops.

Check back next month's for our March picks!

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