Wow, this month is flying by, and I’m so late with the July beer of the month! I know you’re holding your breath, so I’ll dive right in.
New Belgium Rolle Bolle – bottle – 5.5% ABV – New Belgium ROLLEd this one out as their summer seasonal this year, and I’m impressed. It has all the things a summer beer should have: light, refreshing body, a relatively mild flavor, and a clean finish that doesn’t leave you looking for a glass of water.
Terrapin Rye Pale Ale – draft – 5.3% ABV – I drank this one and the Hopsecutioner below on tap at a restaurant in Atlanta, because, well, “When in Rome…” It’s a little weak on the rye, especially since my gold standard is Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye, and overall not my favorite. The malt and hop character are fine, but I look for that spicy punch and this one misses the mark for me. That’s why I drank it first, before…
Terrapin Hopsecutioner IPA – draft – 7.3% ABV – This beer is all hop, all the time. Citrus hop notes in the aroma, more citrus in taste, along with some background pineyness. The finish is nicely bitter, and the relatively high gravity gives it a good kick.
Southern Tier 2XIPA – bottle – 8.2% ABV – Pours clear and gold with half a finger of white head. Citrus and pine hop aroma. Pretty sweet for a double IPA, but not cloying and well-balanced with bitterness. It’s fairly high gravity, but the sweetness makes it deceptive. The aftertaste is a little sour, which takes away from it a bit, but then again it just means you need to keep drinking (responsibly)!
Great Divide 19th Anniversary Ale – bottle – 10.20% ABV – It’s very woody in aroma and taste, with a nice maltiness throughout. You might think that at 10% it would just knock you flat without asking questions, but GD knows their high-grav brews, and it holds up. There are touches of barleywine here and there, when the beer strikes my palate just right. Not as good as the 18th Anniversary, but that’s a tough one to beat. Highly recommended.
Great Divide Oatmeal Yeti – bottle – 9.5% ABV – Ooh, aroma of dark fruit and dark malts and actually more hops than I was expecting. The raisin is very prominent, much more so than the oatmeal. The mouthfeel is very very smooth. Expectedly low carbonation, but a nice bite thanks to the high gravity. So far it’s my second favorite Yeti, next to Oak Aged.
Carolina Brewing Summer Ale – bottle – 4.8% ABV – Frankly, I’m not a fan. After the Rolle Bolle showed me all that a summer ale can be, drinking this leaves me reaching for the nearest IPA. There’s not even much to say about it beyond that, but keep in mind that I’m not a huge kolsch drinker in general.
Raleigh Brewing General Olds Summer Ale – draft – 4.3% ABV – Another good summer ale. Not like Rolle Bolle, but New Belgium always does things a little different. General Olds is light, sweet and refreshing.
Crank Arm Brewing – A friend and I visited this brand new brewery the day after it opened, and I am so, so impressed. I’ve been to a few other brewery openings, and this is without a doubt the strongest showing I’ve ever seen. The taproom is decorated with fantastic bicycle-themed art, all created by Raleigh neon artist Nate Sheaffer. I got their tasting wheel, and then went back again the same week for more.
- White Wall Wit – 4.4% ABV – When I got this one, the brewmaster told me the citrus flavor came entirely from the hops, and had he not told me that I would have thought there was actual citrus in the beer. A very nice, light, refreshing beer.
- Unicycle Single Hop Pale Ale – 4.8% ABV – This one is powerfully hoppy. You’ll either love it or hate it, and it might not be the same next time. They used the same hop in every step, from bittering to dry hopping, but every brew will feature a different single hop (hence the name). The batch I had was very grassy and slightly tart, a like a saison and an IPA had a baby.
- Rickshaw Rye IPA – 7% ABV – When I drank this one it was just after the Unicycle, so my taste buds were a little dulled, but the rye character was really great, and the hops were very well balanced.
- Eat Sleep Bike ESB – 5.6% ABV – This is my least favorite of all the options here, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad beer, in fact it’s a great ESB, but the others are so fantastic that I have to pick a worst. I also love the name.
- Holy Mole Smoke Porter – 5.7% ABV – I don’t actually get any smoke from this smoke porter, but I do get a heaping helping of DELICIOUSNESS. Super spicy and more chocolatey than any so-called chocolate beer I’ve ever had. It contains cocoa nibs from Videri Chocolate Factory next door, which I also highly recommend.
And the winner is… Crank Arm’s Holy Mole Porter!
Just a small part of the fantastic opening volley from Crank Arm, but this spicy, chocolatey beer is now definitely my favorite pepper beer, a position previously held for years by Sigda’s Green Chili beer from Coopersmith’s in Ft. Collins, CO. Sorry Sigda, you’re #2 now, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Come back next month for some more lovely beers (I’ve already had some great ones) in what is hopefully a more timely manner. Let me know what you think of this month’s beers in the comments!