Hi folks! If you’re reading this, you survived Sober October, or at least your interest in fresh local beers has persisted into your newfound teetotalism. In either case, kudos to you, I’ve got just the thing for you this November.
This month was mostly about discovery rather than novelty. It seems like release calendars hit a bit of a lull in the late autumn, with fewer beers releasing than in the spring or summer. But that opens the opportunity to revisit a rarely sampled brewery and dive into their taplist for under-appreciated gems. Or to rediscover a brewery you damn near forgot about. That’s the theme of November’s Doin’ Beers.
Little Thistle #NoFilter Hefeweizen, 5.2% ABV, 11 IBU
I have been tragically and irreversibly ensorcelled by hefeweizens, and Little Thistle has a similar effect on me. Dawn and Steve Finnie, owners of the Rochester brewery, were whipping up beers at the now-closed Grand Rounds when they first caught my attention for their ability to balance the traditional with the trendy. And isn’t that hefe in a nutshell? The original hazy boi, hefe is a soft German beer with tons of aroma, and when done as well as Little Thistle’s #NoFilter, it has so much depth and dimension. Clove esters parade out of the beer, its wheaty body following with a slight lemon flavor. Tastes like harvest.
Town Hall IPA 25 IPA, 6.7% ABV, n/a IBU
Twenty-five years is like a millennium in craft beer time. In 2022, Minneapolis's Town Hall Brewery crossed that millennium mark, and they celebrated with a slew of new beers—and one old one. While the original 1997 Masala Mama was the highlight of the anniversary menu, it’s their pithy IPA 25 that deserves a deeper appreciation.
IPA 25 shows the wisdom of Town Hall’s experience. Despite the overripe aromas of pineapple, grapefruit, and peach, it’s a very restrained beer. Totally clear, it gives you all the refreshment a beer with those flavors should. Gorgeous, full, and refreshing, drop after drop. It’s a beer that feels both trendy and timeless.
Arbeiter Figurati Italian Pilsner, 5.1% ABV, 35 IBU
As a proud 5’10” Italian-American man, I can't deny the allure of an Italian-style pilsner. Especially when it comes from Longfellow’s Arbeiter Brewing, which has been on a tear with the style lately. They just canned a dip-hopped Italian pils called Alla Nostra brewed in collaboration with Insight, which followed a dry-hopped Utepils collaboration released in August.
Maybe Arbeiter should change their name to Lavoratore, because their in-house variant, Figurati, sure tastes like it should be a flagship. Figurati is dosed with Callista hops, giving it a distinct herbal character, almost like eucalyptus. The dry-hopping ups the crispness as well, and each sip finishes dry and cleansing. Arbeiter can stop experimenting with this provencal style, they’ve fully cracked it—Figurati has it all figured out.
Forgotten Star Gold Medal Schwarzbier Schwarzbier, 5% ABV, 30 IBU
In October, Forgotten Star was awarded two medals at the Great American Beer Fest (silver, Bock, and gold, Other Strong Beer). The wins might’ve been surprising if the three-year-old Fridley brewery didn’t also take home gold in 2021. That’s how Gold Medal Schwarzbier got its name, and it is absolutely deserving of its accolade. Roasty and slightly chocolatey but without the heft of a stout, Gold Medal Schwarzbier is an ideal fall drink, providing equal parts warmth and refreshment. Tmave has been getting a lot of buzz this year, but Forgotten Star’s schwarz is a good reminder that the Germans do dark lagers just as well as the Czechs.
Talking Waters Wheels Go West West Coast IPA, 6.8% ABV, n/a IBU
Montevideo’s Talking Waters has changed up their look a lot in the past few months, making their beers jump off the shelf. Upon a recent visit to the Dabbler Depot, their flagship West Coast IPA Wheels Go West beckoned to be brought home. And what a classic, 2000s-era WC IPA this is. The pine and resin notes are generous, the bitterness resplendent. That California standard combination of Simcoe and Mosaic deepens the flavor, pulling caramel out of the malts and wiping the palate clean. Talking Waters round it out with a Citra addition, adding in some much needed tropical flavor to keep it interesting for today’s IPA fans.