7 Great New Lagers
SAMUEL ADAMS DOUBLE AGENT IPL
After nearly three decades, the venerable Boston brewery keeps rolling out innovations like this IPL—India pale lager—that combines the piney, grapefruit-driven DNA of an IPA with a colder fermentation process for a smooth, hop-forward hybrid with a crisp finish.
961 BEER LAGER
When you think of craft beer, the Middle East rarely comes to mind. But Mazen Hajjar, a former investment banker from Lebanon, is altering perceptions with his award-winning brewery named after the nation's calling code. Cascade hops give this gently sweet, golden-hued lager its floral aroma.
ANCHOR CALIFORNIA LAGER
This tribute to California's first lager (brewed in 1876) is crafted with native barley and floral, spicy Cluster hops—a favored ingredient for 19th-century brewers. The golden result is crowned by billowy foam and delivers a lingering bitterness often lacking in modern lagers.
NEW BELGIUM SHIFT PALE LAGER
Inspired by workers sharing after-hours beers, the Colorado brewery's canned thirst quencher has a tropical profile. Its Nelson Sauvin hops, which come from New Zealand, supply notes of lychee and mango; Cascade hops add a kiss of citrus.
FLYING DOG UNDERDOG ATLANTIC LAGER
This light, biscuity thirst slayer was devised as an antidote to humid East Coast summers. Wheat creates the smooth mouthfeel, Goldings hops from England provide a grassy, floral bouquet, and rye dries out the finish.
BALLAST POINT LONGFIN LAGER
San Diego–based Ballast Point shows a deft hand with this clean-drinking take on Germany's classic Munich helles (meaning "bright" or "light"). Snappy and grassy, it has a slightly sweet, bready flavor.
SARANAC DRY HOP LAGER
To give this medium-bodied lager its intense aromatics, the upstate–New York brewery turned to dry hopping, in which flavorful flowers like tangy Taurus and citrusy Opal hops are added after fermentation.
• • •
5 Can't-Miss Open-Air Spots
GREENWOOD PARK (above)
A onetime auto shop in South Park Slope was rebooted in 2012 as a 13,000-square-foot day-drinking paradise with a sea of picnic tables, a patio bar hewn from a shipping container, and three bocce courts. The 24 rotating drafts range from beer-garden stalwarts like fruity Hofbräu Hefe Weizen to craft selections from Green Flash, Founders, and Brooklyn Brewery.
BANGER'S SAUSAGE HOUSE & BEER GARDEN
The 100-plus beers on tap at this nine-month-old Rainey Street drinking depot and music venue are best enjoyed in the leafy garden out back. Pair up local offerings like the (512) Double Pecan Porter and Live Oak Pilz with the city's largest and most eclectic sausage list, which ranges from antelope-and-venison merguez to a duck-bacon-fig blend.
There are 30 taps at this recent arrival in North Park—a rustic, bike-friendly beer hall that dispenses hop-forward Southern California suds like the latest pale ales from Automatic Brewing Co., the microbrewery cofounded by Lee Chase, one of the bar's owners. Find a perch on the back patio outfitted with picnic tables and walls made from stacked wooden pallets, and try a Belgian sour with wood-oven oysters and pork-belly bánh mì.
Sun-seekers looking to thaw out after the winter can venture to this West Bank newcomer's vast 150-seat patio to down their choice of 50-plus draft beers from local up-and-coming breweries such as Harriet, Steel Toe, and Surly. A daily happy hour (4 to 6 P.M.) will leave you a few extra bucks for an egg-crowned grass-fed burger or a sandwich stuffed with walleye, the state fish.
THE PUB AT GOLDEN ROAD BREWING
The leading light of L.A.'s burgeoning beer scene is headquartered in Atwater Village at a complex of renovated warehouses, one of which operates as an airy, sun-soaked pub that has 20 taps and a patio that seats 72. It's a postcard-perfect locale for sampling the peachy, passion-fruit-scented Point the Way IPA, brewed on-site.
• • •
3 Breweries to Watch
From left: Gigantic Brewing tap room; a Gigantic pint
OFF COLOR BREWING
Two Illinois craft-brewing vets go old-school with their just-launched Chicago brewery highlighting nearly extinct German styles like the dry kottbusser, made with oats, honey, and molasses.
Few brewers are crafting finer hop bombs and Belgian- and French-style farmhouse ales than this Philadelphia-area pub, housed in a former doctor's office. Drinkers from all over are making the trek for the piney, tropical pale ale and a four-grain saison.
GIGANTIC BREWING COMPANY
Small and unpredictable, this Portland, Oregon, outfit has just one consistent release: the clean, mango-tinged Gigantic IPA. But one-offs like the current Geezers Need Excitement Chocolate IPA never disappoint.
• • •
5 Amazing New Session Ales
1. Chock-full of floral Crystal and citrusy Cascade hops, Deschutes River Ale (left, 4% ABV), the latest from Oregon beer-maker Deschutes Brewery, is balanced, refreshing, and compulsively quaffable.
2. Generous helpings of peppercorns, orange peel, and fresh lemon zest enhance Victory Brewing Company's lively, Belgian-inspired Swing Session Saison (4.5% ABV).
3. The Minnesota-based Summit Brewing Company's limited-edition Union Series made its debut with Meridian Session Ale (4.5% ABV), a hazy malt made with hops that evoke Meyer lemons.
4. Coriander and sea salt add a Gatorade-like electrolytic kick to Magic Hat Brewing Company's Saint Saltan (4.6% ABV), a spritzy, lightly sour take on Germany's centuries-old gose.
5. Odell Brewing Co.'s first variety 12-pack will include the new crisp, hop-driven Loose Leaf American Session Ale (4.5% ABV).
• • •
The Trend of the Season: Bottled Shandies
Few drinks refresh like the shandy, a blend of beer and lemonade, citrusy soda, or ginger ale. Now you can skip trying to dial in the perfect proportions, thanks to some terrific new bottled shandies, such as the Traveler Beer Company's lemon-and-lime-brewed Curious Traveler and gingeryTenacious Traveler. Germany's new Stiegl Grapefruit Radler (German for "bicyclist") combines lager with slightly bitter soda, and later this summer the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Wisconsin will complement its popular Summer Shandy with an orange-flavored version.
• • •