May conjures thoughts of Kentucky thoroughbreds and Mexican mole sauce for Cinco de Mayo, while the end of the month brings the unofficial start of summer. So beer cravings can gyrate with the weather and calendar, between heavier brews aged in bourbon barrels to India Pale Ales (IPAs)—a harbinger of languid summer days in shirtsleeves. Here are a few to consider:
Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout
Brewed in Mendocino County, California, this velvety stout has a mahogany hue with a tan head that dissipates quickly. It’s aged for three months in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels that produce some woody, vanilla notes mingled with chocolate and light bourbon aromas. Unlike other bourbon barrel stouts, the subtle bourbon flavors don’t crowd out sweet cocoa and licorice. Some lingering bitterness makes it a good foil for beef sliders with carmelized onions; 6.9 percent ABV.
Upland Brewing Company’s Dragonfly IPA
This American pale ale is brewed in Bloomington, Indiana, and stays true to the original British IPAs that were strongly hopped to extend the shelf life of ales being shipped to the troops stationed at the Empire’s edge. It’s golden with an off-white head that gives way to solid lacing. The aromas are understated but some of the seven hops used break through with piney and strong floral scents. Bitterness remains on the palate along with lemon and orange zest flavors. The lively carbonation makes it a natural complement to mowing the lawn or Upland brewpub’s potato goat cheese pizza; 6.7 percent ABV.
Deschutes Brewery’s Inversion IPA
This American pale ale style pours a reddish-copper color with a long-lasting head. Brewed in Bend, Oregon in a shop known for its worship of hops (the beer flower), this one has strong piney aromas with a citrus bouquet dominated by grapefruit. The grapefruit follows through on the tongue together with caramel and biscuit flavors. The multi-hop jolt is nicely balanced by Crystal and Carastan malts, but this robust IPA is definitely for hop heads. The brewers suggest pairing it with a blue cheese bacon burger or hop-infused cheesecake; 6.8 percent ABV.
– Sarah Jaquay