Every month, a huge amount of booze moves through the Gear Patrol offices — beer, wine and a whole lot of whiskey. This month: a 420 beer special, a craft brewery gets into natural wine and more.
We asked for a redo of Game of Throne's season 8, not a beer! Wait, but the beer is actually better than season 8 (and dare I say better than most of season 7?). Famed Danish craft brewery Mikkeller celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Thrones with the Iron Anniversary IPA, a hazy NEIPA. It tastes like drinking alcoholic orange juice while sitting on a beach next to someone eating a tropical fruit salad. The 5.5-percent ABV beer is available in Denmark, as well as select retailers stateside. This is just the start of the Mikkeller x Game of Thrones collaboration, with two beers already in the works.– Tyler Chin, Associate Staff Writer
One of the best new whiskeys of last year sounded like it would suck. The first news of it highlighted its celebrity backers (a number of famous sportspeople), not the whiskey itself. The only name you need to know: Marianne Eaves.
Eaves is the mind behind the blend, and the brand's follow-up release — available in Georgia, Tennessee, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas — is exceptional. Eaves started with a 16-year-old bourbon that acts as the foundation for the blend, and layered in 6-year-old and 4-year-old whiskey to balance out the ultra-aged characteristic. It's fatty, warming, sweet and a little fruity. Despite its stout 114 proof, it doesn't bully your taste buds. Plus, this year's bottling should be significantly easier to track down, with more than four-times the available bottles. — Will Price, Assistant Editor
Wicked Weed Brewing, an exceptional brewery based out of Asheville, is getting into natural wine under the brand Vīdl. And whether or not the transition from beer to wine makes sense to you, the wines coming out of Vīdl are just delightful. They're bright, alive and refreshing, and it's hard to do them justice with words. The winery's lineup includes Sauvignon Blanc ($25), Contact Rosé ($30) and Blaufränkisch ($35), each made with grapes sourced from Yakima Valley, Washington, which is the same place Wicked Weed sources its hops. The wines are only available in North Carolina, which is a damn shame, but if you're ever in the state, find all three bottles and buy them up. – Tyler Chin, Associate Staff Writer
I usually hate margarita mixes, but my god is this one from Jack Rudy absolutely delicious. The mix is made with lime juice and agave, and it's the perfect complement to tequila (or mezcal, my preference). It's far less sugary sweet than your typical marg mix, and making a big batch of cocktails with this is super easy. – Tyler Chin, Associate Staff Writer
Double Barrel Ale was Firestone Walker's first-ever beer. So while it's not new, the branding did get a facelift this year to celebrate 25 years of the winery-impersonating-a-brewery. This 5-percent ABV English Pale Ale is not distributed everywhere, but if you come across it you should absolutely give it a try — the caramel malts and noble hops make for such a wonderful combination. I hadn't had a DBA in a couple of years and I truly forgot how much I loved this beer. As David Walker said, "I wish we could get back to drinking an English Pale Ale fresh off the cask and all would be well." — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor
West Coast IPAs will always have a fond place in my heart for the years they were the archetype of craft IPA and for my years spent in California. But not many breweries who distribute to the East Coast do much in the way of West Coast IPAs anymore. This 7 percent ABV offering from Deschutes has a solid hop character thanks to the use of Cascade, Strata, Mosaic and Galaxy. This gives it a bright and fruity taste, with a near peach Gobstopper fruitiness. Squeezy Rider is exactly what West Coast IPAs should be. — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor
Can the worst beer I tasted this month be one of the best? Honestly, it wasn't the worst beer I drank in April — you know who you are Hazy IPA that can't even do that right. Maybe this has more to do with the fact that I love smoked beers, and smokiness is all Torched Earth Ale has to offer. I suppose that is a sign of things to come where we will live in a climate-ravaged world where beer ingredients are scarce (or extremely expensive) and shitty beer is just the norm. We are in a golden age of American craft beer, but that does not mean that climate change is not coming for beer, too. — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor
Did I get stoned drinking this beer? No. Will you get stoned drinking this beer? Definitely not. But that's not what terpenes do. They kinda provide a calming effect a little less perceptible than CBD. This 4/20 special from Bluepoint did provide an initial calming effect, but why I really enjoyed it was because it's a dry-hopped American wheat ale, which is not something you come across every day. Calypso, Mosaic, Sabro and Cashmere hops combine to give this 7-percent ABV beer some seriously hoppy character. The balance between wheat beer and hop character makes this one a standout, even if the desired outcome of feeling a little stoned is nowhere near what is going on with this one. — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor