1. Nebraska Apricot Au Poivre Saison
If someone told you they found a saison made with peppercorns and apricots, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't guess it's from Nebraska. But, I'm guessing they have a lot of time on their hands out there, so more power to them. Anyway, they did indeed make this saison with pepper (thus the "Au Poivre") and apricots. Definitely one of the most interesting combinations I've seen lately. Oh, did I mention it's aged in Chardonnay barrels? Yes, this beer needs to be sipped with a pinky out. My thoughts? When I see ingredients listed like this, I naturally seek them out in the beer. I'm not expecting to taste a glass of chardonnay with literally a peppered apricot in it, but I expected a boost from one of the three. The apricot was there but more in the aroma than the taste. I tasted some sweetness from the chardonnay barrels but I actually got some sour notes on here too, which if you know me, you know I ain't hatin' it. Looking at it purely as a saison, this is a great beer. Bottom line though: this beer was over $20 and I don't feel like I got my money's worth.
Overall Rating: B
2. 21st Amendment Hop Crisis
21st Amendment Brewery is at the forefront of the canning revolution and they took it up a notch by canning an oak-aged beer. No frilly cork-and-cage here...just straight up can. I'm digging this brewery more and more as they diversify their lineup, but ultimately, their "Brew Free or Die! IPA" gave me a taste for their hoppy skills. Stepping it up a notch with an imperial IPA, aged on oak spirals, got me giddy like a schoolgirl. As you can see, this beer pours beautifully. The smell hit me right when I cracked the can open. Using six different hops between bittering and dry-hopping, this beer reaches 94 IBUs, but is way smoother than that sounds. The oak flavor is pretty faint in this beer, but that's a good thing because it doesn't take away from the fantastic bitterness. This is a damn good beer that's surprisingly nearly 10% ABV. This sure as hell ain't a 6 pack to bring fishing though. (Did I really use "ain't" twice in this post?)
Overall Rating: A-