Every time I go to my local bottle shop to buy a six-pack or three, it seems like there's another new beer or brewery gracing the shelves. Despite my ongoing drunkenness, I am not hallucinating. Brands are entering the New York City market at a dizzying clip. Here are a few of my favorite new arrivals to seek out.
Sixpoint 3 Beans: To build this burly Baltic porter (hello, 10 percent ABV), the crew from Brooklyn's Sixpoint turned to a blend of wheat, barley and, yes, three beans. The first is Stumptown Coffee, while the second is husked cacao beans from Brooklyn's Mast Brothers Chocolate. And the third bean, well, that's no obvious. It's a Romano bean, which was once used to extend the fermentable power of barley and, in a nice twist, contribute proteins to create a rich, luscious body. As a finishing touch, the beer was aged in toasted oak barrels for three weeks, resulting in a creamy, silky indulgence sold by the can.
Troëgs Nugget Nectar: For hop heads, January and February are the cruelest months. Brewers have turned their attentions to barley wines and stouts, mothballing bitter beers until the spring or summer. That's not the case at Hershey, Pennsylvania’s Troëgs, which uses these months to release its highly covetable Nugget Nectar, the ratcheted-up version of the year-round HopBack Amber Ale. The imperial Nugget’s caramel-malt flavor is complemented by a fresh, floral perfume. It's now available in bottles. Look for it in draft later this month.
Bayou Teche: While the South has long lagged behind in the craft-beer game, it's recently begun to catch up thanks to wonderful new breweries such as Louisiana's Bayou Teche. (Currently, much of its beer is brewed by Mississippi's Lazy Magnolia.) Based around an hour outside Baton Rogue in Arnaudville, Bayou Teche is the brainchild of brothers Karlos, Byron and Dorsey Knott. Their focus is beers designed to complement Cajun and Creole cuisine. Currently, New Yorkers can try the biscuity LA-31 Bière Pâle and the Passionnè wheat beer, which is made with passion fruit. In the future, be on the lookout for my favorite release, Bière Noire. The robust, subtly smoky dark brew tastes of dark-roasted coffee, but it still drinks crisp and surprisingly dry.
Lakefront Brewery Fernet Stout: Eben Freeman is the bartending equivalent of Mr. Wizard, smoking Coca-Cola, infusing bourbon with cigars and creating “white Russian” Rice Krispies that are twice soaked in Kahlúa and dehydrated, then set adrift in a bowl of simple syrup, vodka and milk. Now Freeman is turning his talents to beer, collaborating with Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery to create Fernet Stout. It's based on the recipe for the Italian amaro Fernet, and the beer is brewed with ingredients including dried orange peel, star anise, clove, lemon verbena, fennel and saffron. The bitter beer is available on draft at Nicoletta Pizzeria and Osteria Morini.