New choices from the U.S. and Belgium

More new-to-the-shelf beers (seasonals returning, new imports, brand new beers). Information is from press releases.

Saison Imperiale from DeProefbrouwerij of Lochrist, Belgium: Saison Imperiale is a nod to the growing interest in the Saison style, alongwith growing popularity of “imperial-ized” versions of classic beer styles. The beer is light amber in color with an eggshell colored head. It is fermented with two yeasts – saccharomyces and (semi-wild) brettanomyces – giving it a traditional funky farmhouse character. A dash of coriander is also added. It has an original gravity of 1072 (18 plato), yielding 8.5% alcohol by volume. The beer is hopped at 30 IBU’s, using Tomahawk and Goldings.

Otter Creek 15th Anniversary IPA: The artwork for the label was commissioned especially for the anniversary. It features a painting by the well known Vermont artist Woody Jackson. “We chose to feature Woody’s painting on our Anniversary label,” said owner Morgan Wolaver, “because he is a local painter who can capture what Vermont means to us. The scenery in Vermont is so beautiful, and Woody really captured that quality in the painting, as well as the feeling of community. These are the things we care about. Apart from brewing great beer, which goes without saying!”

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine: The 2006 vintage is the biggest yet, checking in at 11.26% abv. “Nowadays with technology everything is getting smaller, it’s nice to know here at Stone things keep getting bigger,” said Stone CEO Greg Koch. The 2006 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine will be released in 22oz bottles principally because that is the only size bottle that can hold such a massive-profile beer, but also because it is the only size bottle that can fit the annual rambling soliloquy from Koch. (It says that in the press release.)

Sheep’s Secret Scotch Ale: From the Hartland Brewery in New York. Heartland Brewmaster Kelly Taylor: “Fresh Midwestern pale malts and British roasted barley impart a mellow malt sweetness, light toasted caramel background, and a smooth, balanced finish to this classic ale. 6.5% abv.”