The state of the craft brewing movement has never been so strong, as breweries across America create innovative riffs on classic styles and experiment with new flavors. And European microbreweries have gotten in on the action as well, making their own versions of kolsch, IPA, lager, and more. At the recent Green City beer festival in Brooklyn, put on by Other Half Brewing Company, hoppy IPAs, and tart sour ales were the focus.
“We wanted to create an event where some of our favorite brewers and industry friends from around the world [could] showcase their products in one place,” says Other Half cofounder Andrew Burman. “We specifically made Green City an IPA-focused festival to help target some of the best breweries of that particular style so that we could celebrate all things hoppy.”
Here were some of the best beers showcased.
Equilibrium Brewery, Austin Boysenberry
Equilibrium Brewery, of Middletown, NY, is an experimental operation founded by MIT graduates. Their brewing philosophy is based on what they refer to as scientific principles, such as “mass balance brewing” that focuses on “the sources and sinks of different flavors to maximize and balance” flavors. The brewery’s Austin Boysenberry is a sour, red farm ale flavored with, you guessed it, boysenberry, and it’s a great choice for a hot summer day.
Half Acre Beer Company, Battle of Trenton
Half Acre has two breweries on Chicago’s north side, with the stated aim of brewing “technically raw beer for the collective odyssey.” The artwork on the cans is intricate and psychedelic, and often as attractive as the beer found within. Battle of Trenton is an amber common (a dark American cream ale) that has been aged for nine months in bourbon barrels and steeped in peach tea and fresh mint. It’s slightly sweet, a little bit sour, and pleasantly complex.
Other Half Brewing, DDH Broccoli
Other Half was founded in Brooklyn in 2014 with the intention of representing the “other half” of the beer industry, brewers interested in creativity and collaboration. In that spirit, Other Half sometimes teams up with other like-minded breweries for one-offs and experiments. DDH Broccoli (made by the brewery alone) is a double dry-hopped imperial IPA brewed with mosaic lupulin powder, oats, and wheat. It’s cloudy and floral, with a bust of tartness lurking just underneath.
Burial Beer Co., Innertube
Asheville, NC is a mecca for craft brewing, and Burial fits comfortably into the scene. The names of the beer brewed here are descriptive and artful– "The Deafening Song of Silence," "The Tearing of Flesh From Bone," "To Streak Blood Across My Brow," to name a few. One of the simplest, both in terms of title and flavor, is "Innertube." This American lager was created as a tribute to the workhorse American beer of yesteryear. It’s brewed with barley, corn, and rice, and goes down easy and smooth on any occasion.
Omnipollo, Noa Pecan Mud
Apparently, the Swedes know a thing or two about craft brewing as well. Omnipollo was founded in 2011 as sort of a traveling brewery. The team comes up with recipes and then makes the beer at various established breweries. Noa Pecan Mud was brewed in Holland and Sweden. This imperial stout is a thick, decadent dessert beer with notes of caramel, cheesecake, and chocolate, inspired by one of the Omnipollo founders’ childhood dreams of becoming a pastry chef. Thankfully, he chose brewing instead.
Mikkeller, Building Blocks
This Danish brewery has several American outposts, including a new location at Citi Field in New York City. Mikkeller was founded in 2006 with the goal of perceiving beer to be on par with wine or champagne when it comes to pairing with food. The San Diego outpost was responsible for brewing Building Blocks, which is a crisp and hoppy German-style keller pilsner.
Hill Farmstead Brewery, Abner
Vermont is another state known for its thriving beer scene. Hill Farmstead is located in North Greensboro, way up in the northern reaches near the Canadian border. The brewery has become very popular amongst the beer cognoscenti, who make the trek north to procure its seasonal brews. Abner is part of the Ancestral Series, named after the founder’s great-grandfather. It’s an imperial pale ale that is unfiltered and double-hopped, and filled with citrus and floral bursts.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co., Camp Coolship
The inspiration behind Arizona Wilderness is evident in its name, which evokes the diverse flora and fauna of the Grand Canyon State. The brewery has only been around since 2013, but is already making a name for itself. Camp Coolship was made in collaboration with Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing using open fermentation in a mobile vessel in the Arizona mountains. This means that natural yeast and bacteria came into play to ferment and flavor the beer. The resulting brew is bold and unique.
The Alchemist, Heady Topper
The Alchemist is a Vermont brewery that specializes in unfiltered IPA. It started out as a brewpub and now has two brewery locations, one in Stowe and one in Waterbury. Heady Topper, the brewery’s flagship IPA, is a highly coveted beer that has developed a rabid cult following. It’s only distributed within a 25-mile radius of the Waterbury brewery, which makes it hard to come by for many. So if you get a chance to drink this hoppy, spicy IPA, consider yourself lucky.
Hudson Valley Brewery, Purelake Petite Syrah
The colorful, minimal design of Hudson Valley Brewery’s cans is as striking as the beer inside. The brewery makes a wide variety of styles, from sour IPA to IPA to Berliner-style Weiss. The Purelake Variations series is one of the brewery’s standouts. These sour IPAs are brewed with grapes–one with Petite Syrah, and the other with Viognier. They are fruity and tart, with bursts of flower and citrus that pop up as you drink.
Great Notion Brewing, Blueberry Muffin
Portland, Oregon is another American city known for its beer scene. Great Notion focuses on IPAs and “culinary-inspired sours and stouts.” A good example of the latter is the Blueberry Muffin beer, a fruited sour that was designed after its namesake. On the nose, it’s literally like a freshly baked muffin. As you sip it, that sensation remains, but the sour notes take over resulting in something altogether different and delicious.