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Bar: What to Get Drunk on in 2016 

Wednesday, Jan 13 2016

FromSF Beer Weeknear the start of the calendar year to Outside Lands' Beer Landsto December's spirited holiday releases, the Bay Area ceaselessly fills your glass with world-class libations. For your drinking pleasure, here are the best recently released beveragesto seek out in 2016.

Toaster Pastry (21st Amendment Brewery)
2015 was quite the year for SoMa's original craft brewery. Not only did 21st Amendment finally open its mammoth San Leandro production facility — returning all of its beer-making back to the Bay Area — it also took home two silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, including one for this heavily hyped "Pop Tart" beer. The inspiration for this India-Style Red Ale? The San Leandro operation is a former Kellogg's factory. Whether or not you think it tastes like Pop Tarts is beside the point: It's juicy, drinkable, and crisply refreshing for a hoppy beer with a 7.6 percent ABV. And this year will see the reemergence of the canned bright red beauty in package shops throughout the city.

Dogpatch Whiskey (Seven Stills, Almanac Collaboration) 
Seven Stills is changing the whiskey game, releasing a series of spirits distilled from local beers. With Dogpatch Whiskey, first bottled this past November, the Bayview distillery harnesses Almanac Beer Co.'s tangy, namesake sour to produce a daring, experimental distillate. Running a beer through the still, however, strips it of much of its defining characteristics. So to impart the beer's original flavors back into the liquid, master distiller Clint Potter rested the juice in the same American Oak barrels the brewery uses to age its venerated sours. After five months, a floral, funky whiskey emerged from the cask. Extremely limited in supply, only a handful of bottles will hit S.F. in early 2016, priced at $45 for 375 ml.

Otra Vez (Sierra Nevada Brewery)
Goses were all the rage in 2015. The slightly salty style, which originated in 16th-century Leipzig, established itself as the darling of the craft beer world seemingly overnight. Some breweries, hoping to cash in on the craze, missed the mark — badly. Sierra Nevada, on the other hand, nailed it. Their first bottled Gose, Otra Vez, was a spectacular summertime sipper — never mind that it arrived mid-autumn. Brewed with prickly pear cactus and a hint of grapefruit, the session ale is sure to win over newcomers and seasoned vets alike. Now that it's in regular production, expect to see bottles in high demand come mid-May, the optimal season for this light, crisp, and tangy tongue tickler.

Calambic Series (High Water Brewing Company)
Last year saw the launch of High Water's ambitious Calambic Series — an ongoing line of ales that merge seasonal California ingredients with the longstanding tradition of Belgian sours. First up was Central Valley Breakfast Sour,aged with grapefruit, pear, and lychee. As the name suggests, it could be enjoyed before noon, drinking somewhat like a carbonated grapefruit juice. But whatever time of day you pop open a bottle, you're sure to be fully satisfied. Next up from High Water in 2016 is Ramble on Rose, a Grateful Dead-inspired grog made with fresh blueberries, rose petals, and pink peppercorns.

Batch 003 (Bender's Rye Whiskey)
Located on Treasure Island, Bender's has employed a consistent formula to its first three releases of hooch: high-quality rye sourced from Alberta, Canada that is rectified, carefully blended, and proofed down using pure Sierra Nevada runoff. The results have been similarly predictable: outstanding rye with a distinctive flavor profile, and mouth-pleasing roundedness. And Batch 003 might be Bender's finest work yet. Aged in white oak bourbon barrels, there is a lingering vanilla-like sweetness in the finish. Hovering at $50 per 750ml bottle, it is undoubtedly one of the best value buys in the craft whiskey world.

Double Dry
Hopped Dobis (Cellarmaker)
You know what they say about too much of a good thing? Well, the brewers at Cellarmaker don't. The SoMa microbrewery took one of its perennial all-stars — a Double IPA bursting with bitter, ripened citra hops — and jacked it up even higher. Adding fresh hops (not once, but twice) after primary fermentation turns this beer — in Spinal Tap fashion — from a 10 to an 11. Fruity yet malty, tropical yet biscuit-y, it has a most glorious cacophony of pungent flavors and aromas competing for your attention. Ultimately, it all makes sense. If there's any justice in the world, 2016 will see the triumphant return of this now-cultish hop-bomb. In the meantime, make your way to the tasting room to sip onHighway to the Danker Zone, analmostequally impressive Double IPA that is available for growler fills.


About The Author

Brad Japhe

Brad Japhe

I enjoy my whiskey neat, my beer hoppy, and my meat medium rare. I have been covering craft spirits, suds, and gourmet cuisine for a decade, with work published from New York, across Montana, and up and down the Pacific Coast.


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