This quintet of beers is available as part of a Christmas-themed collection from Alameda, California-based Almanac Brewing, complete with holiday-friendly labels. We received five of the dozen brews for review, all tasted from 16 oz cans.
Almanac Love Hazy IPA – I like my hazy IPAs to be hazy, and this super-juicy offering really does the trick. Hopped with Sabro, Citra, and Mosaic hops, Almanac has hit on a winning formula here that bursts with pineapple and mango notes, touched with lemon oil, all dropped against an almost creamy backbone that leans heavily on its wheat and oat elements. The latter gives it a chewy texture that really comforts the belly on a cold evening. Meanwhile, all that fruit provides a festive overlay that feels like taking a tropical vacation when everyone else is at work. Suckas! 6.1% abv. A
Almanac Bunny Hill IPA – More of a classic, west coast IPA, dry-hopped with Cashmere and Simcoe hops, giving it a punchy, slightly brooding bitterness. It hits the palate as slightly watery, despite having the same abv as the richer, more rounded Love Hazy, with a finish that has its share of somewhat lifeless vegetal notes. Nothing much new here for longtime drinkers of the style. The name makes some sense, I guess. 6.1% abv. B
Almanac Boost Coffee Stout – It doesn’t get more holidayesque than a coffee stout, and Almanac’s expression — brewed with coffee and vanilla beans — certainly does the job. Boldly chocolatey and full of sweet coffee flavors from front to back, this brew only breaks from that theme to showcase a rather racy, boozy quality that evokes a more traditional, slightly oxidized, and winey stout experience as the finish emerges. It’s got a beautiful balance, and it’s tough to put down when you’re sipping fireside. 9% abv. A-
Almanac Fruit Cobbler – A sour farmhouse ale aged in oak barrels with peaches, nectarines, and spices. Overwhelmingly, mouth-puckeringly sour, this is too far down the rabbit hole for my tastes, drinking dangerously close to vinegar, albeit with a clear focus on peaches, apricots, and other stone fruits. There’s no hint of the barrel here, just the purest expression of fruit in its sourest possible form. 5.7% abv. C+
Almanac Plum Sournova – Another sour, aged in oak barrels with plums and vanilla beans. More approachable than the Fruit Cobbler — despite the wild, fuschia color — the vibrant, plum-heavy fruit character is balanced by notes of hibiscus, rose water, and a mild vanilla character underneath that brightens things up. A squeeze of lemon gives the finish a distinct tartness beyond the sour plum elements at its core. 5.2% abv. B
each about $15 per four-pack of 16 oz cans / almanacbeer.com