You'd be hard pressed to find three more disparate brews than this week's lineup. Beyond their malted barley base, they don't have much in common. They're not from the same continent, they don't share the distinction of being bottled and one comes in a can. The only real thread that connects them is quality: All three are worthy efforts.
Abita Restoration Pale Ale
Score another one for this Louisiana-based brewery. This smooth, dry ale has a slight earthiness and pours a light gold with a creamy head that fades rather quickly. Soft grain and floral hops mark the nose, while the palate has a fresh baked-bread quality with lightly sweet malt melding nicely with the fruity, just-bitter hop profile. This is not the most complex effort but it is impeccably balanced and delightfully drinkable.
This Kansas City brewery's take on a Belgian witbier is flavored with coriander and orange peel and pours a hazy straw color with a thin cap. The soft aromas are nicely herbaceous and filled with spicy fruit. There's a pleasant graininess to the palate, where the sweet lemon flavors are backed by ample spice. The finish is crisp and refreshing with just the right hit of bitterness.
From the can, it pours an opaque ebony with a billowy, cafe au lait-colored head that collapses slowly. In the mouth, it's like biting into a bar of high cacao, dark chocolate--rich and well textured--with a lightly sweet espresso chaser. Touches of cherry, a hint of smoke and subtle hops color the finish. At 8 percent-plus alcohol, this might not be the best choice on a hot summer day, but it would make a great nightcap. This very impressive stout is my first from Sri Lanka.