It’s an odd time of year for beer.
On one hand, we’re awash in it. Standing amid piles of boxes recently, a Boston-area beer store owner lamented the crush of new brews he was receiving after the holiday season, when sales are high. Breweries have been steadily releasing new beers since early January, and it’s hard to keep up.
On the other hand, it’s also not clear what we should be drinking. Is February a time for getting an early jump on spring, or sticking to stouts? The weather — like the breweries themselves — is all over the place. We have answers. Below are six beers, out right now, that you should be drinking.
Wicked Wintah, Down the Road Brewery/Dorchester Brewing Co. (7 percent ABV) One of the cool things about visiting Dorchester Brewing is the guest taps of brewers who’ve made beers on the premises. The breweries are calling this particular collaboration a “hot chocolate porter.” It’s aged on cocoa nibs with a touch of vanilla, and it wouldn’t be out of place après-ski.
Red Velvet on Nitro, Ballast Point Brewing Co. (5.5 percent ABV) This golden oatmeal stout is brewed with beet juice and chocolate, and made creamy from an infusion of nitrogen into the bottle. It tastes like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, looks kind of like blood, and has just enough bitterness to warrant being called a beer.
American Kolsch, Boulevard Brewing Co. (4.6 percent ABV) The Kansas City brewery’s new release wants to be your everyday cooler companion. It’s meant to be crushable, the honeyed malt notes balanced by spicy, herbal hops. The rise of easy-drinking, German-inspired lagers is a trend we can all get behind.
Mo Pils, Castle Island Brewing Co. (4.7 percent ABV) Same concept as above, but with Mosaic hops as opposed to the traditional German variety. This is considerably more bitter than the Boulevard offering but also easy to drink.
Hoppy Table Beer, Allagash Brewing Co. (4.8 percent ABV) Here’s a good rule of thumb when you’re at the store: Everything Allagash makes is great. The company’s latest year-round beer pours the color of pale straw, smells like stone fruit, and tastes like lemongrass. it’s drier and hoppier than many Allagash offerings.
Flesh & Blood IPA, Dogfish Head Brewery (7.5 percent ABV) Made with orange peel, lemon flesh, and blood orange juice, this beer still manages to taste very much like an IPA. It’s bitter, balanced, and smells like fresh-squeezed.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen