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Weird Beer 

Culinary influences take these brews in a whole new direction

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MIKE RIEDEL
  • Mike Riedel

I think one of the reasons that craft beer is so hot right now is that it can become much more than just another alcoholic beverage. Sure, you can have all kinds of flavored spirits, but those are generally used as flavoring for other beverages, and it's inconceivable to find a wine that can come close to the unique flavor combos you'll find in a basic craft beer. I found a couple more flavor-explosion beers that you will either love or hate.

Shades Pleasantly Pickled: People tend to like love pickles, right? But will that love translate into a pickle-flavored beer? The kids over Shades Brewing think so, as they've taken their hugely successful kveik beer and given it the dill pickle treatment. It pours a hazy pickle-brine-looking golden color, with little in the way of head or foam. As the scent greets the nose, moderately strong dill week jumps out, plus just a touch of jalapeño pepper tickling the sniffer.

Dill washes across the tongue first; it's slightly tart and with a hint of sweet. The dill quickly transitions into some light pineapple notes for just a bit. From there the chili kicks in. There is some heat, but it's mostly in the form of a scratchy feeling in the back of the throat. As the drink fades away, the dill and the jalapeño are the only lingering flavors left on the tongue, and continue to grow in strength after the drink ends. I wouldn't exactly call this a quencher. The tartness of the base beer combined with the dill and peppers make this more of a complementary beverage to a cold-cut sandwich or a sushi roll. I'd also recommend this as a cocktail mixer: Look at adding this into a chelada, Bloody Mary or margarita for some interesting flavor combinations.

Quarantine Desirability Rating: Given the multiple uses of this 6.5 percent beer, the cloistering factor of this beer is high. Once you've exhausted all of the cocktail combinations of Pleasantly Pickled, and can pluck the pebble from Master Po's hand, you will be ready to leave the temple ... er, your house.

Templin Family Who's Barry: Still reeling from the pickle beer, I looked towards something on the opposite side of the flavor spectrum and found it with Who's Barry, a smoothie IPA. This beer pours a bright purple color that is dense and opaque in the glass—and it actually looks like a smoothie through and through. The aroma is moderately strong, highlighted by a medley of berries and a hint of hops. A touch of citrus kicks in and transitions the scent over to the tangy side.

Vague berries wash across the tongue first, slightly tart and mostly sweet. Lactose sweetness comes in next, taking the edgeoff of some of the tartness for just a bit. The hops kick in next and start to ramp up the classic, resinous bitterness. The back half of the drink is a combination of the biting hops, fruit and the lactose sweetness, in that order of prominence. As the flavor fades, the hops lingers most on the tongue, continuing to grow in strength after the drink ends. A successful merging of beer and smoothie.

Quarantine Desirability Rating: Another high cloistering factor beer. This heavily-fruited IPA completely eliminates the conflicts between my wife and I, in regards to how much liquor to add to our smoothies and milkshakes. The built-in 6.8 percent alcohol takes the stress out of coming home from a hard night of partying and figuring out how much Kahlua will go into a pint of Chunky Monkey. Thanks, TF!

Pleasantly Pickled comes in a 12-oz. can, while Who's Barry arrives in a 16-oz. can. Both are brewery exclusives, and supplies are very limited, so don't delay if you've got an adventurous palate. As always, cheers!

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