Every month, a huge amount of booze moves through the Gear Patrol offices — beer, wine and a whole lot of whiskey. Here are a few of our favorites.
Elijah Craig Straight Rye Whiskey
Elijah Craig Rye. What?
Made of a mashbill of 51 percent rye, 35 percent corn and 14 percent malted barley, it’s only a couple percentage points off its Heave Hill rye predecessors, Rittenhouse and Pikesville (plus, according to the distillery, it’s made with older whiskey). The bigger difference is the proof. At 94, it’s sturdy but noticeably less hot than its 100 and 110 proof cousins. This, combined with a more mature spirit, makes it a little easier to sip neat or on the rocks. I get a lot of honey, cinnamon and cardamom on the first sip and a bitter chocolate nuke on the followthrough. Some bad news: availability is limited to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Oregon at launch, with rollout beginning later this month. The suggested retail price is $30. — Will Price, Assistant Editor, Home & Design
Stone Brewing Never Ending Haze
Stone Brewing is the latest nationally-distributed brewery to figure out how to make a shelf-stable Hazy IPA thanks to a little help from oats in the malt base. The California brewery’s Neverending Haze IPA is a crushable 4 percent ABV beer that has the look and mouthfeel of a New England-style IPA, but without the fast degradation of one (but it should still be consumed fresh). The brew pours a cloudy orange, with overwhelming peach aromas. Mosaic and Citra hops give this low-ABV beer notes of tropical fruit with a pleasant grapefruit bitterness finish. — Tyler Chin, Editorial Associate
Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Table Beer
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the lower ABV trend breweries of all types are gravitating towards these days. One particular low-ABV style we’d love to see more of is the table beer. Our friends at Creature Comforts released their seasonal Table Beer and it’s hitting all the right notes for us. It’s bright, snappy and floral easy-sipping Belgian-style blonde ale that you could drink all day long. It’s a nice change of pace to have in the winter and certainly one we could enjoy any time of the year at just 4.2 percent. — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor
Ar Pe Pe Rosso di Valtellina
When most people hear ‘Nebbiolo,’ if it evokes anything at all, it’s generally big, grippy, maybe-oaky Barolos and Barbarescos. Ar Pe Pe’s take comes from Valtellina right on the Swiss border and way further north than its more famous siblings in Piedmont. The result is a lighter wine that has all those classic Nebbiolo berries and leather and tannins but is toned down by a little more acid, a little more minerality and a significantly lighter body. Never mind that the price is reasonable for a weeknight “nice bottle” and Ar Pe Pe is a standard bearer for quality, modern winemaking in Italy. — Henry Phillips, Deputy Photo Editor
Bell’s Light Hearted Ale
Although there have been a plethora of low-cal IPAs to drop already this year (and more to come), Light Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery was certainly one of the beers we were most excited about for 2020. It clocks in at 110 calories, 9 carbs and 3.7 percent ABV but packs more IPA flavor than lots of normal IPAs. Brewed with Centennial and Galaxy hops, the hop character plays more to tropical notes than that of its older sibling Two Hearted Ale. While it’s just hitting all markets now, we’re certainly excited about crushing this one all summer (and year) long. — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor
Springdale Beer Company IPA
Does it seem like there are too many IPA styles to keep track of these days? Yes. But we’d argue there’s room for one more with Springdale Beer Company’s revamped “bi-coastal” IPA. That’s to say they sought to strike “a balance between tropical bliss and pleasant bitterness.” Combining Citra, Amarillo, Galaxy and Sultana hops it marries the best of East- and West Coast-style IPAs for a beer that we’re pleasantly surprised with. This 6.2 percent IPA is only available in the Northeast. — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor
Goose Island Beer Company So-Lo
Another low-cal IPA from a nationally-distributed brewery? Goose Island tested So-Lo in Chicago last year and it was a huge success, leading to it being rolled out nationally in January. We had gotten to try it at the Bourbon County Stout tasting last November and it was the perfect palate cleanser for that evening of heavy, bourbon barrel-aged stouts — especially at only 3 percent ABV and 98 calories. It packs plenty of hop character with Idaho 7, Kohatu and Chinook being used while bringing a full-body profile thanks to oat flakes and carafoam malt. So-Lo is going to be an underground gem of the low-cal IPA style in 2020. — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor