Hey, it’s a quintet of new releases from our friends up the road in Petaluma, Lagunitas Brewing.
Lagunitas Born Yesterday Pale Ale 2018 – (2017 bottle pictured.) Born Yesterday is a highly limited, fresh-hopped, unfiltered pale ale that Lagunitas has put out a few times before. For 2018, this one is “a newborn version of our re-born Pale, a Newer New Dogtown Pale with a fresh addition … We added some wet, lupulin-drenched, un-kilned, whole-cone, fresh-picked-and-rushed-straight-from-Yakima hops for your immaculate reception. This Un-Freakin-Filtered, wetter-than-wet beer has 11 lbs-per-barrel of Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Indigenous Catawampus.” It’s a gorgeous expression of hops, in all their juicy glory, sweet and citrusy without becoming overly resinous or thick. The alcohol’s not too high, which lets the yin-yang of hoppy bitterness and fresh-and-fruity notes play off one another. Notes of apples, peaches, and pineapple are all in the mix, with a perfectly balanced punch of hops on the back end. Get this one while you can. (It’s very limited.) 7% abv. A / $10 per six-pack
Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ Ale – One of Lagunitas’ most under-the-radar brews is Brown Shugga, a beer that seems to be everywhere come wintertime but which no one seems to ever be drinking. Described by the company as “a failed attempt at our 1997 batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale that resulted in an all-new-beer-style we like to call… Irresponsible,” this is a We believe this Special Ale is something unique. Made with brown cane sugar (hence the name), it’s a deceptively easy drinking ale thanks to that sweetness, which is modulated by a modest bitterness. Hints of its barleywine origins can be found in notes of plum preserves, cinnamon, and some resinous notes, but it never feels over the top the way many a barleywine can come across, its piney bitterness giving the finish a mouth-cleansing edge. Solid stuff. The Rolling Stones were right. 10% abv. A- / $9 per six-pack
Lagunitas Mozango – Mosiac hops and tropical notes go together like hand and glove, so it makes perfect sense that Mozango — Mosiac-hopped ale brewed with mango juice — would be a hit. Juicy like a New England IPA with a bit more of a bitter edge, this unorthodox combination should be pleasing to just about any type of drinker — whether they’re a full-on hophead or a beer lover looking for something a little more approachable. That said, it’s not a terribly complicated brew, its two star ingredients battling for supremacy on the palate. They battle quite well, but ultimately it’s the mango that wins out ever so slightly, proving that this is an outstanding exercise in balance — and restraint on the side of the brewmaster. 7.7% abv. A / $5 (22 oz. bottle)
Lagunitas Sparkling Swan – A wine-beer hybrid, crazy stuff! Tart and mildly sour, it is either the best of both world or the worst of them, a purple monster that is heavily fizzy, candylike, hoppy, and chewy, all at once. It doesn’t come across as particularly winey, more like just-starting-to-ferment grape juice, which gives it a sort of pruno character — though the green, forest-floor finish throws things into another direction. Not my jam. 6.5% abv. C / $7 (22 oz. bottle)
Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Brett Stout – Imperial stout, lightly soured with Brett, then aged in Sonoma County red wine barrels for up to four years. As every bit the powerhouse that the description would imply, this bold stout kicks off with a lightly soured funk, all mushrooms, prune juice, and roasted meats, then rolls that through the filter of imperial stout, with notes of coffee, leather, and very dark chocolate. The sour elements are at their strongest on the finish, which is racy and cleansing — something you really want when the beer clocks in at over 11 percent alcohol. But as that sharp, winey note fades, everything coalesces into a rounded, cohesive whole, the coffee and dried fruit notes working together particularly nicely. A real fireside sipper — but best in small quantities. 11.3% abv. A- / $10 (22 oz. bottle)