Three very different new brews have arrived on the Boise scene, all in the larger format 22-ounce bomber: from California's Lagunitas, a 13th anniversary redux; from Colorado's New Belgium, a big and flavorful 20th anniversary offering; and from Oregon's Ninkasi, a hop-driven salute to summer.
Lagunitas Lucky 13 Anniversary Release
This orange-tinged amber pour has a thin layer of froth that clings with admirable persistence. The nose is a mix of pine and citrusy hops. This beer is nicely balanced in the mouth and neither the sweet, toasty malt nor the crisp hops dominate. The finish is lightly sweet with shades of ripe lemon, soft orange, honeyed plum and fresh bread, all making for an intriguing brew.
New Belgium Lips of Faith Super Cru
This ale brewed with Asian pear juice is bright gold with a touch of red, topped by a thick head that fades into an lovely lacing. The honeyed malt up front on the nose is backed by soft hops, floral fruit, clove and white pepper. Saison yeast is used here, and it definitely adds a noticeable tang to the caramel malt flavors. Lots of fruit on the palate with tart cherry, green apple and sweet pear backed by olive and spice. This one goes down a little too easily given its 10-percent alcohol rating.
Ninkasi Maiden the Shade
This great choice for the tail end of summer pours a soft and hazy amber with a rich head that collapses quickly but leaves ample lacing. Lots of citrus and bright hops hit the nose with touches of apricot, tropical fruit and malt. There are plenty of hops on the palate but with a nice restraint that doesn't overpower the other flavors. You get a cornucopia of fruit here, with apricot, peach, mango and lime playing against subtle malt as lemon zest comes through on the finish.