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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

January 11, 2024

Craft beer releases to jump-start 2024

Big beers for cold weather make their debut

By Brian Beauchemin

Honey Pie from Birdsong Brewing uses Cloister Honey. Photo courtesy

The start of a new year also means colder weather. Our Queen City brewers have taken it upon themselves to brew a variety of beers to help us maintain a warm glow through the season. Some classic double IPAs return, as do a wide variety of stouts and porters to help keep the cold at bay. Unless otherwise stated, all products are already available in taprooms and/or in the local market. 

Birdsong Brewing     

Honey Pie, a limited-release double IPA brewed with local honey from Cloister Honey, releases January 11. The 8.9% ABV brew, referred to as “heaven in a glass” by some faithful, has a solid malt foundation, complemented by a generous amount of locally harvested honey, and a unique blend of hops delivering aromas of honeydew and grapefruit.

Devils Logic Brewing

Get the Gose on the Berries is a 4.7% ABV traditional gose base beer conditioned on blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Three beers will release on January 18. Crushing Pils is a 5.2% ABV pilsner with a light body that’s dry and crisp with medium bitterness, and noble hop aromas. Jucifer is a classic New England IPA highlighting a slightly thicker mouthfeel, strong notes of pineapple, tangerine, and orange creamsicle with a 7.0% ABV. Lastly, Komunity is a 4.7% ABV light-bodied Kolsch with a fruity aroma and balanced sweetness.

Guided by Impatience is a kellerbier releasing on January 20. Using a traditional pilsner malt base, malted wheat and flaked rice are added to enhance its body while keeping it light and crisp. Hallertau Mittelfruh, a staple hop in German brewing, are combined with Citra hops late in the boil. This provides the 5.1% ABV brew with a spicy hop character with floral aromas mixed with citrusy and stone fruit notes. 

DreamChaser’s Brewery

Wysacky Milk Stout is a small-batch taproom-only brew served on nitro. Roasted barley and chocolate malts in the 5.1% ABV milk stout create a dark but smooth base. Creamy lactose provides a sweet balance to the roasted flavors. 

Session IPA is a 4.7% ABV light-bodied session IPA bursting with tropical and fruity hops, featuring notes of peach, berries, and pineapple, finishing slightly dry. This January 11 release is also taproom only. 

Releasing January 20 for Baltic Porter Day, Graveyard of Ships is a 7.5% ABV smooth, yet robust porter featuring notes of chocolate and coffee from the dark roasted malts. Bready and caramel hints meld together forming a complex and balanced flavor. 

S’mores Porter, a 5.5% ABV oatmeal porter, was brewed with graham crackers, cocoa powder, and vanilla for a flavor that will have you ready for a campfire. Releases January 27 in their taproom only. 

Model A Brewing

A 6.5% ABV American stout, Roast & Relaxation showcases caramel and coffee-like malt flavors up front, slowly giving way to a firm roasted barley and American hop finish. 

Not My Gumdrop Buttons is a 6.8% ABV gingerbread ale. The amber ale is brewed with graham crackers, molasses, honey, fresh ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. 

Two Scoops Rum Raisin is a brown ale collaboration with Two Scoops Creamery. The 7.2% ABV beer is a “pumped up” American brown ale with rum-soaked raisins and Madagascar vanilla.

Brewed entirely with English malts and hops, Prohibition highlights the classic ESB flavors of biscuit and light caramel balanced by a pleasant floral, earthy bitterness. The 5% ABV brew was voted Best Beer in Charlotte 2022 (CIBA Awards) and continues to be a fan favorite. \

Sticking to classic English beers, Cleanest Dirty Shirt is a 5.2% ABV English porter with a soft, creamy texture. Highlights of bittersweet cocoa notes fade into a semi-dry coffee-like finish balanced by a moderate bitterness.

NoDa Brewing   

Having grown up in Vermont, I’m particularly fond of our state’s maple syrup, which is why Hop Cakes is my favorite NoDa beer. This 10.2% ABV imperial IPA utilizes Vermont maple syrup in tandem with classic American hops. The blend of maple flavor with a slight sweetness intertwines well with the citrusy, resiny hops on top of a solid malt profile and slight alcohol notes.  

Par for the Course is a 5.2% ABV session IPA assertively hopped with Mosaic, Centennial, and Chinook hops. Oats and wheat fortify the malt body for a great mouthfeel. Grapefruit, pine, berries, and melon dominate the flavor with a balanced and drinkable body and finish. Releases on draft in the North End taproom January 12. 

The strongest and boldest of their Lagered in the Woods series, Part 3 is a Baltic porter brewed with European malts including chocolate and carafa to provide dark color and roasty flavors. Hallertau hops provide a subtle balance to the malt. The beer was lagered (cold-stored) in a whisky barrel for one year. The 8.7% ABV beer will be available on draft at the North End taproom beginning January 19. 

Stock Ale, another English classic, also releases on draft January 19. The term “stock ale” refers to stronger beers that could hold up well over time and be added to a pub’s lineup either to average out lower ABV beers or to be a more exclusive offer to higher-paying patrons. This 8.4% ABV beer is hopped with English Challenger hops and utilizes English Maris Otter malt, English torrified wheat, and malted oats giving it a great body and clean hop character. The beer is boiled for 3.5 hours to help caramelize and reduce down the wort to attain the strong ABV and the flavor is nuanced with dark fruit notes from an English yeast. This is a true winter warmer, hardy enough for the colder months of the year. 

Fenrir’s Right is a rye strong ale brewed in the Scandinavian farmhouse tradition called raw brewing, where the wort is never boiled, and is then fermented on Kviek Hornidal yeast. The hearty and slightly spicy, 8.6% ABV brew aged 10 months in whiskey barrels and releases January 26 on draft at the North End taproom.

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Barrel-Aged Dunkel is their winter seasonal dunkel aged 8 months in Quinns Whiskey barrels from Great Wagon Road Distilling. The dark lager has a creamy mouthfeel with a light and smooth whiskey flavor in tandem with vanilla and caramel notes. The 4.9% ABV brew releases January 19 in their taproom only. 

Protagonist Beer

First brewed in September 2023, The Boss returns to jumpstart 2024. The 7.5% ABV hazy IPA releases January 26 on draft and in cans. This hazy was brewed with local malt and Mosaic, El Dorado, and Enigma hops. The medium-bodied and smooth brew showcases a soft, tropical nose, with berry notes, and a hint of classic pine.

Southern Strain Brewing

Frosty Nuggets, a 10% double IPA brewed with 100% North Carolina malt is a New Year’s tradition for the brewery. Centennial, Simcoe, and Citra hops unleash a blizzard of grapefruit, tangerine, and pine, building a base for a follow up epic double dry hop finale. Centennial returns, joined by the tropical punch of Azacca, blasting the palate with juicy mango, guava, and a hint of lime. Medium-bodied with a lingering resinous warmth. 

Tripel is a classic Belgian Tripel brewed with 100% North Carolina malt and Belgian candi sugar. Expect notes of ripe pear, stone fruit, and a touch of pineapple. Deceivingly light in color, effervescent, and crushable for 9.5% ABV.

Triple C Brewing

The first two beers this month release on January 19. Enzo Gorlami is a 5.5% ABV Italian pilsner which is lightly double dry-hopped and satisfying for both lager and hop lovers. Aromas of white wine grape must and spicy noble hops with a hint of citrus meld with light bready malt undertones. A crisp and dry mouthfeel with moderate bitterness make this a beer’s beer.

Choke Artist is a hefty 10% ABV triple hazy IPA. This draft-only gem was brewed with Azzaca, Chinook, and Citra hops for a citrus and tropical melody of candied orange, tart lemon, ripe pineapple, and juicy mango with a hint of citrus zest aromas. Pours an opaque yellow with a slight juicy sweetness for flavor. 

A throwback to the brewery’s beginnings, Space Cadet is a 7.0% ABV black IPA which is dark in color but with the hop taste of a traditional West Coast IPA. Citra, Chinook, and Centennial hops provide strong citrus aromas with a hint of roasted malt supporting. Bitter and dry, this is a great match for the cooler days of winter. Releases January 26 on draft and in cans. 

Wooden Robot Brewery

Portal Gun is a smooth, chocolatey, and luscious 6.5% ABV porter. Brewed with a variety of kilned and roasted malts from Epiphany for a rich malty sweetness balanced by dark chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes.

Inspired by the Bavarian Helles style, QC Gold is a 5.0% ABV golden lager brewed with German-grown heirloom barley, malted locally by Epiphany Craft Malt. It is malty smooth with rich baked bread notes and a light touch of noble hops for a crisp finish.

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