Now that Halloween is behind us there is nothing to stem the tide of Christmas beers and holiday ales that threaten to overwhelm your palate with flavors of cinnamon, allspice and fermented honey. Where can the spice-averse beer lover turn to fight off the blues that settle in as the sun retreats into the southern hemisphere? Any wet hop beers still hanging around are quickly passing their best by date. The big hop bombs of the deep winter, like Hop Slam and Chillwave are still months away. Fortunately our friends at Land Grant Brewing are releasing a trio of beers that are sure to fight off the tug of seasonal affective disorder. Last night I made a trip down to the Franklinton taproom to check them out.
Goon (6.1% abv, 65 IBU) – This hockey-themed copper hued beer, billed a Strong American Pale Ale, is available only at Nationwide Arena and the Land Grant taproom. The nose is predominantly sweet caramel malts, with a subtle accent of floral hops. The aroma is suggestive of a marzen. Initially the taste follows suit, but before you get comfortable an aggressive punch of piney, bitter hops slaps your taste buds around and chases away any notions of a sweet cloying finish. The malt bill is rich and nuanced with Pale Ale, Munich, Carapils, Crystal Rye and honey, but the hops (Magnum, Northern Brewer, Chinook and Green Bullet) are as unrefined as the name. The end result is an unexpected stalemate where neither malts nor hops get the upper hand. Blue Jackets fans looking to numb the pain of a disastrous start to the 2015-2016 campaign can find this on tap at six different beer stations at Nationwide Arena starting this week and running throughout the season.
Totes Liotes (7.3% abv, 60 IBU) – This black IPA was brewed collaboratively with Hoof Hearted for the recent Studio 35 beer tasting event. Black IPAs can run the gamut from hoppy porter to IPA in all but color, but this beer lands squarely in the sweet spot between the two. It has the dank, fruity goodness you would expect from a Hoof Hearted beer, and the smooth drinkability you would expect from a Land Grant beer. While hops are the star attraction (seven different varieties were used) the use of Midnight Wheat malts and flaked rye gives a hint of chocolate and spice that sets it apart from any Hoof Hearted hop bomb I’ve tried. The roasty bitterness of your classic porter/stout are completely absent. This beer is the shit, one of the best black IPAs you can find anywhere. I’m told there were 10 barrels (20 kegs) brewed. Make sure you find one before it’s all gone.
Beard Crumbs (7.3% abv, 42 IBU) – Land Grant’s unique holiday beer makes it’s 2015 debut at the taproom tonight (Thursday 11/4/15), but like a kid who gets to open one present on Christmas eve I got a preview a day early. Beard Crumbs marries the flavors of an oatmeal stout with the unmistakable flavors of caramelized raisins. Your opinion on this beer is likely to hinge on your affinity/aversion to raisins, but there’s no denying that the combination of chocolate and raisins is unlike any other Ohio brewed holiday beer on the market. Look for this beer in cans as the holiday season gets into full swing