Maybe I was in the mood for something different, but I can't remember when I last had three such unique and exceptional brews. All three have unusual back stories: two are collaborative efforts; two are brewed with unexpected ingredients; and two are on the tart side, with sour substituting for bitter hops--a category that's on the rise.
Mikkeller/Grassroots Wheat Is the New Hops IPA
The Danish-based ghost brewery Mikkeller (it has no facilities of its own) created this unique IPA at its favorite stop, De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium. It's a hazy golden pour with spicy brett and floral hop aromas punctuated by pepper and grain. That pepper colors the palate, as well, along with lively tropical fruit, citrus-y hops, roasted grain, soft malt and a touch of lemon zest on the finish. This is a seriously delicious, world-class effort.
New Belgium Heavenly Feijoa Tripel
This Lips of Faith entry is a collaboration between the Colorado-based brewery New Belgium and Canada's Dieu du Ciel. Brewed with hibiscus and feijoa (aka pineapple guava), this beer has a bright amber pour with a thick head that leaves a lovely lacing. The nose is an intriguing mix of sour mash, black pepper, guacamole and spice. In the mouth, the hibiscus definitely shines through, along with ripe lemon and more spice. Be glad this beer comes in a 22-ounce bomber--you'll want more.
Trois Dames L'Amoureuse
Brewed with grapes, this hazy, grapefruit-colored sour ale from Switzerland throws a very thin head. The aromas are soft and light with a creamy fruit component and a hint of spice. Beautifully balanced on the palate, it has a sweet tart element--something like a well-aged balsamic vinegar--that plays against the ripe apple, cherry and grape flavors. The finish is smooth and refreshing with a lively hit of citrus peel.