Beer Reviews: Local Brews

For our latest round of the Beverage Dynamics National Beer Panel, we asked panelists to review beers from their local regions.

These reviews include brief tasting notes and a rating. If you’re a retail or on-premise beer professional who would like to learn more about participating in our panel, please contact managing editor Kyle Swartz at 203-855-8499 ext. 2225 or

Beer Rating System

Five Stars (93-100 points): A top-flight beer. Superior in taste and character, providing an outstanding price/value relationship.


Four Stars (86-92 points): A highly appealing beer at an excellent value. A beer for which customers will keep coming back.

Three Stars (80-85 points): An above-average beer at a reasonable price point, which many consumers will enjoy.


Five Star Beers

(98) Hill Farmstead Anna Saison (Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro, VT). Pours an effervescent bright yellow, leaving a stiff, white, fluffy head. The nose is a beautiful tart grassy lemon. The balance and complexity on this beer are amazing. The palate is wonderfully tart, grassy and earthy with a slight honey finish. Extremely refreshing, this saison is great to sip on during a nice sunny afternoon. Anna is easily one of the greatest saisons in the world, let alone New England. 6.5% ABV.

(97) Four Seasons of Mother Earth, Autumn 2016 (Mother Earth Brew Co., Vista, CA). Rum-soaked raisins, butterscotch candy, light coconut and vanilla cream flavors, cinnamon, carrot cake, elegant hop character, nice tannins from the oak, easy to drink and not overly heavy or sticky. A really well-made, perfectly balanced barrel-aged beer. 8.2% ABV

(97) Allagash Coolship Cerise (Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME). An American wild ale with cherry. Using the exact same methods of spontaneous fermentation as they do in the lambic houses of Belgium, the Allagash Coolship series is as close to lambic as an American brewery can come. Acidic nose with hints of cherry-pie filling. Sour cherry and beautiful barnyard funk from the wild yeast. Amazingly complex, this beer easily stands up to any kriek. The Coolship series is definitely worth the trip to the brewery for their very limited release. 8.1% ABV.

(95) Second Chance Bourbon Barrel Aged Festa Imperiale (Second Chance Beer Co., San Diego). Dark chocolate, bourbon-soaked wood, not hot though, oaky bitterness, little bit ashy with toasted marshmallow. Well-balanced, piny hops add balance. Medium-bodied with a full, creamy mouthfeel, not cloying in any way. Delicious. 9.5% ABV

(94) Supernaught IPA (New England Brewing Co., Woodbridge, CT). Pours from a growler slightly hazy orange, leaving one finger of white head. Being a single-hop Mosaic IPA, no surprise that the Mosaic hop really shines. Wonderful tropical fruit, and lemon on the tongue, giving away to a slight bitterness in the finish. A bready malt backbone gives the beer a nice balance. Being under 6% ABV, the body is toward the lighter side, making it refreshing and easy to come back to throughout the day. 5.8% ABV, 65 IBUs.

(93) Ruse (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA). A red-wine-barrel-aged stout. Pours dark black with a thin, brown head. Leather and tobacco aroma makes it known that it was aged in wine barrels. Smooth mouthfeel with tons of chocolate; slightly dry finish. Much less tannin than I expected, but by no means disappointing. 11.3% ABV.

(93) Alchemy Coffee Stout (Martin City Brewing, Kansas City, MO). Poured opaque black with caramel lacing into a pint glass. Very expressive aromas of coffee, toffee and cocoa. Coffee shines through, with just enough sweetness to balance the hop bitterness. Color belies the light-medium body. Not overly rich, robust or creamy; rather, just right. A delicious brew that tempts as a replacement for the daily java fix! 6.3% ABV, 50 IBUs.

(93) Lupulin Lust (Rip Current Brewing Co., San Marcos, CA). Intense lemon pith, grapefruit tangerine peel and unripe pineapple hop flavors. Very clean with M+ bitterness, spearmint, hop leaf, danky and pungent, light white vegetables, medum-bodied and way too easy to drink. Hides it’s alcohol well. Yum. 8.3% ABV

Four Star Beers

(92) Kansas City Craft Brewers Black Wheat Lager (Weston Brewing Co., Weston, MO). Pours light caramel in color with a thin, dirty, ½-finger lacing. Light toast on the nose, almost a hint of campfire smoke. Subtle notes of coffee and chocolate come into play. Coffee and chocolate follow in the mouth, with a pleasant and subdued sweetness that arrives during the lengthy finish. Medium carbonation on a light-medium body, as expected from the style. A nice local interpretation of a dunkelweizen that could easily have us reaching for more! 5.4% ABV, 30 IBUs.

(90) Cinder Block Prime Extra Pale Ale (Cinder Block Brewery, North Kansas City, MO). Pours clear, pale-gold color with ¾-finger dirty white head. Very delicate floral aromas that improve as the beer warms. Pleasant and surprising flavors of baking spices (nutmeg and allspice), with a balanced lingering bitterness. Well-carbonated, full-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel. A solid APA that goes down nicely. 5.5% ABV, 50 IBUs.

(89) Invisible Art Bourbon Barrel Aged, Ghost 502 (Adroit Theory Brewing Co., Purcellville, VA). A black IPA that has been aged in bourbon barrels. Pours a dark black with a medium mocha-colored head. Lots of bourbon on the nose. Vanilla and tannin dominate the palate, with a sharp, roasty bitterness to round it all out. 10.1% ABV, 100 IBUs.

(89) Code 24 Pale Ale Batch #1 Old School (10 Barrel Brewing, Bend, OR). Pours an inviting pale gold with good lacing. Dank, resinous hops with garlic undertones and lime zest greet the nose. Flavors follow suit, with citrus pinging off malt creaminess. On the bitter side for a pale ale. 6% ABV, 52 IBUs.

(88) Desolation (3 Stars Brewing Co., Washington, DC). A porter brewed with coffee that has been aged in rye whiskey barrels. Pours black with a thin white head. Aromas of coffee and whiskey burst forward. Lots of coffee on the mouth, presence of the alcohol is almost nonexistent, smooth finish. 9.6% ABV.

(88) Alpha Pale Ale (Torn Label Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO). Pours hazy gold color with moderate buff lacing. Very fresh, piney notes dominate the nose. Grapefruit rind and citrus, mild malt sweetness, with big—but not overpowering—bitterness on a very lengthy finish. Well-carbonated, medium-full body with a creamy character. Enjoyable beer, but not quite sessionable due to the hop influence. 5.6% ABV, 80 IBUs.

(87) Sleeping With The Fishes (Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, MD). An imperial stout brewed with cocoa, cold brew coffee, and fish peppers. Brewed as a collaboration with Woodberry Kitchen, whose kitchen garden was the source of the fish peppers. Pours black with a thin tan head. Lots of chocolate and coffee with a slight pepper burn on the finish. 9% ABV.

Three Star Beers

(85) Lost Continent Double IPA (Grand Teton Brewing Co., Victor, ID). Bright gold with persistent lacing. Grassy, pungent hops leap from the glass; some citrus in the background. Body is ideal for the style. Flavors of melon and warming alcohol finish with ample bitterness. 8% ABV, 107 IBUs.  



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