What We're Drinking in January 2017
The 2017 craft beer scene in Nashville promises to be better than ever before. Last year brought in the high-profile likes of Prairie Artisan Ales, Crooked Stave, and the relaunch of Dogfish Head, but also saw the coming-of-age of several stellar local and regional breweries like Bearded Iris, Blackberry Farm, and Wiseacre. Here's a short list of what the Woodland crew is drinking in January 2017.
Tennessee LOCAL BREW
A Nashville beer icon in the making: Bearded Iris Brewing just released their latest and hands-down best yet, Red Handed Double IPA (7.5%). Story goes, last year their Homestyle crept up over the previous high-gravity limit, and the Beer Board gave 'em a good slap in return. No longer an issue with the new increase in what Tennessee considers "high gravity" beer. A win for brewers. A win for beer fans. Red Handed is the best thing yet from the boys on Van Buren. Major points for the smartassery of the name.
Blackberry Farm Brewery continues to crush it. They do not miss. Expect lots more from the Farm this year. To kick things off...
King of Falling Fruit came about when a neighboring farmer called the brewery with a surplus of peaches and plums. BFB jumped at the chance to douse a saison with local fruit. Unofficially, Falling Fruit is an ode to late Blackberry Farm proprietor Sam Beall. Touching, tastefully executed, and damn good.
1976 Farmhouse is a small departure in style — an imperial saison, weighing in at 8%. Brewed in commemoration of the Farm's 40th year, for all its rusticity it is a real warmer of an ale.
Everywhere Else BREW
Cigar City Brewing launched somewhat quietly in the first week of the year. We brought on four of their canned offerings: Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White, Maduro Brown, Lager, and of course the all powerful Jai Alai IPA. They're all solid. But man, that Jai Alai is currently about a week old and just so so so so fresh. Really. Unbeatable. It's work not taking home a sixer at the end of every night.
File Cedar Creek Brewery's IPA under the header woefully overlooked. This Texas brew has west coast swagger with an east coast haze and but claims affiliation to neither. It is its own beast. Totally slammable, and a welcome addition to the small nation of canned IPA.
Founders Brewing released the best version yet of their Azacca single-hop IPA — in 15 packs. This crushable and well balanced brew showcases a mastery of the style, as well as the full breadth of this citrus-tropical hop variety, Azacca. So named for the Haitian god of agriculture.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is back! We carried these fine fine beers way back when, and we were double super stoked when they landed once again on our shores in November. Can't get enough. We still have a few bottles of the 2014 Vintage Reserve Noël de Calabaza, which is stupid good. Beer of the year last year for this reveler. I highly recommend snagging a couple bottles, while they're still here, if you can.