Brewing Company: Flying Dog Brewery (Fredrick, MD)

Beer: Brewhouse Rarities Berliner Weisse

Style: Berliner Weissbier

ABV: 4.2%

Availability: Seasonal, Released in Mid-May, Available in 6pks and Draft

With the heat wave coming, I decided that I wanted to feature a beer that would be refreshing and enjoyable in 90+ degree weather. I chose to go with a style that has been increasingly popular in the past few years, Berliner Weisse. This is a sour and sessionable category of beer that has origins in Germany. I believe it is a perfect style to introduce someone into the world of sour brews. My glassware of choice was a stemmed wine glass. As I approached this beer, I noticed an aroma of lemon and wheat. If you do not like hoppy beers this may be an interesting style to try. Weighing in with only 7 IBUs (International Bittering Units) there is little to no hop presence and I found the overall balance to be fantastic. My first sip was tart, as expected, and finished very dry. While there was acidity present, I found it to be enjoyable and not at all over-powering. The only downfall is that I chose this beer off a single bottle rack and should have gone for a 6-pack. I would have enjoyed sharing this beer in good company. Overall thoughts are: enjoyable, true to style, and refreshing.

My Rating: 3.75/5

Also Try: Dogfish Head Festina Pêche




Brewing Company: Ale Asylum Brewing Company (Madison, WI)

Beer: Rictus Grin

Style: Belgian Style Pale Ale

ABV: 6.0%

Availability: Seasonal, Available for just a little longer, 6 packs and on draft

Ale Asylum has been cranking out notable, hop forward brews in numerous waves over the past couple of years. The most recent of these is the Belgian Style Pale Ale, Rictus Grin. Following the releases of Velveteen Habit and High Coup, this is Ale Asylums latest seasonal brew. I was quite excited to see another Belgian style beer coming from this brewery located in Madison, WI. The excitement was largely due to the consistency and drinkability of Ale Asylums’ Belgian style IPA, Bedlam. The brewing team in Madison has been keeping me on my toes and are hitting home runs with many of their releases. I’m hoping that this beer released in the Summer months will be somewhat refreshing and not overly yeasty or hoppy. With the weather being warmer, I like to have a beer that will have me continuing to reach for more. When I thought of glassware I couldn’t help but remember visiting the brewpub and being served pilot batch beers in pint glasses. After some research, I decided to try the beer in a snifter. The beer poured nicely with a lasting, foamy head and had aromas of spice and hops. The aroma reminded me of Leffe Blonde, a great start. The first sip was slightly sweet with a good yeast presence and the hops were noticeable, but not over powering. As I took another sip, the slight bitterness became more apparent. At 6% ABV there is little alcohol burn in this beer. The aroma became more pleasant as my glass slowly drained. I would love to drink this side-by-side with an authentic Belgian Pale Ale and compare. Overall, I found this beer to be enjoyable. Another excellent release from Ale Asylum. It appears that their pilot batch series is working. Mmm.


My Rating: 4.25/5

Here is an interesting read on their pilot batch series, as well as some info on the next seasonal:


Brewing Company: New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO) est. 1991

Beer: Tart Lychee

Style: Sour/ Wild Ale

ABV: 7.5%

Availability: Seasonal, Available Now, 22oz “Bombers”

Served In: Snifter

Lips of Faith is an innovative series of beers brewed by New Belgium Brewing Company. Tart Lychee is the latest release in this very popular series of unique brews. It is comprised of 50% wood-aged sour (Felix) blended with 50% of ale brewed with lychee juice and cinnamon. Felix is also the base beer for another Lips of Faith release, Le Terrior, a dry-hopped sour ale. Lychee is a fruit that has origins in Asia and New Belgium describes the flavor of it as ” so insanely sweet and flavorful you almost can’t stand it alone”. I leaned back in excitement after pouring the beer in my snifter, pausing for a moment to enjoy the sweet aroma. The sweetness of the fruit was apparent on the palate, while the alcohol was masked by the funk and sour taste of this blended beer. Overall, this was another great sour from New Belgium. In three words this beer is sweet, sour and superb. Share this beer with friends and family and you are bound for an enjoyable experience.


My Rating: 4.5/5

Also Try: Almanac Tropical Platypus

Almanac Brewing Company EMPEROR NORTON 


Brewing Company: Almanac Brewing Company (San Jose/ San Francisco, CA) est. 2010

Beer: Emperor Norton

Style: Imperial Belgian-Style IPA

ABV: 9.0%

Availability: Seasonal, Available Now, 22oz “Bombers”

What I could find out about this Beer:

  • The beer derives its name from a 19th century eccentric in San Francisco, Emperor Norton the First, the self proclaimed “Protector of Mexico”. Norton was known for “issuing his own currency, calling for the overthrow of the Federal Government, and for prophesying a future bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.”
  • Brewed with summer apricots
  • Dry-hopped with Citra and Hallertau Blanc Hops
  • Hallertau Blanc Hops are typically highly armoatic, tropical, floral, and fruity
  • Citra Hops have strong aroma and flavor of floral and citrus notes

What I want from this Beer:

  • Belgian-yeast characteristics (spice and fruit)
  • An overall balance between the strong flavors of; hops, malt, fruit, yeast, and alcohol
  • Drinkability

What I got from this Beer:

  • Harsh first sip, alcohol was prevalent
  • Tons of tropical and citrus hop notes
  • Long lasting finish
  • Apricot flavors arose at the end of each sip
  • Enjoyable, but would have enjoyed it more with food
  • Prosciutto and gorgonzola cheese would have been fantastic


My Rating: 3.75/5

Up Next: New Belgium Tart Lychee

Lagunitas LUCKY 13

Brewing Company: Lagunitas (Petaluma, CA & Chicago, IL) est. 1993

Beer: Lucky 13

Style: Imperial Red Ale

ABV: 8.8%

While I don’t have a favorite brewing company, there is one that comes close: Lagunitas Brewing Company. Lucky 13 is a limited release from Lagunitas. Available from April through June, this beer will be vacating shelves shortly. This beer poured a hazy, medium amber with a long lasting, short head. While I could definitely sense alcohol on the nose, along with fruity and herbal hops, I was not overwhelmed by my first sip. A slightly maltly, sweetness balanced out by loads of hops made for a very enjoyable sip. This beer is not only hoppy, but rich. Overall this beer was very enjoyable, and I would say dangerously drinkable. At 8.8% ABV this is one to sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Did you know? Lagunitas Brewing Company is 50% owned by Heineken International.

My Rating- 4/5

Availability: 6pks and Draft

Also Try: Lakefront Fixed Gear

Next up: Almanac Brewing Company- Emperor Norton


Milwaukee Brewing Company CE-RAY-ZA

Brewing Company: Milwaukee Brewing Company (Milwaukee, WI) est.1997

Beer: Ce-RAY-Za

Style: Mexican Lager, infused with Yerba Mate Tea

ABV: 5.4%

This is a nice summer selection from MKE Brewing. A deep gold and smooth lager. Hints of tea on the nose, as well as a lingering tea bitterness on the finish. After each sip I was ready for the next refreshing taste. Very solid lower ABV craft brew for the hot summer months.

Not sure what a Mexican Lager is? Check out this good read:

 My Rating- 4/5

 Availability: Exclusively at Ray’s Growler Gallery

Also Try: Oskar Blues Beerito

On Deck for Tomorrow: Lagunitas Lucky 13


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