Winter may still be dragging on, but our reviewers stayed warm all month with blockbuster beers like a boozy flavor-bomb of a Russian imperial stout and a pair of well-balanced IPAs striving for hoppy perfection. While a decadent, luscious pastry stout loaded with chocolate may be expected right around Valentine’s Day, there was a lot to love in other categories, including a scarlet-hued American ale and a beautifully crafted pilsner.
90: Alesmith’s My Bloody Valentine
Despite the “gimmicky beer title” this American red ale is more of a “serious sipper” than a “Valentine’s Day novelty,” writes Tom Thornton. “It’s a mouth-coating beer that has a fairly lengthy finish, with a lingering balance of both the savory hop and bready malt flavors” that should “win praise from IPA drinkers and fans of reds and ambers.”
91: Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils
“This is a damn fine beer for any style,” writes Tucker Anders of this “extremely approachable” pilsner. “The hops bring bright lemon, deep herbal, and light floral notes to go along with plenty of bitterness. Honey malt rounds out the bitterness with a touch of sweet, and that signature pilsner dirtiness adds yet another layer of flavor.”
93: Foothills’ Sexual Chocolate
“For a beer to be called sexual, it’d better deliver, and Sexual Chocolate sure does,” says Tucker Anders, who praises this imperial stout as “silky and smooth, and yes, a little bit sexy.” “Chocolate hammers the tongue with all of its complexly sweet, bitter, and dark fruity notes” but “Foothills ramps up the bitterness” so that this balanced beer “happily avoids a syrupy fate.”
95: Toppling Goliath’s Golden Nugget
“Golden Nugget smells like a fruit smoothie with a dose of underripe mango,” says Tucker Anders of this “smooth, balanced, and highly drinkable” IPA that pours a “vibrant, golden-orange color with plenty of haze.” A “creamy, soft mouthfeel” and the all the “tropical fruit flavors as well as aromas typically reserved for the most sought after hazy IPAs” make this a winner.
96: Claremont Craft Ales’ Pepper & Peaches
“I’ll be damned if Claremont hasn't hit a dazzling combination here,” says Pete Keeley of this fruit IPA that starts off “distinctly peach-y” and exhibits a “concentrated juicy sweetness that ambles up to cloying and then retreats,” leaving “a battery of florals and herbs: black licorice, orange blossom, juniper” as “the strong citrus and resin flavors of Citra, Columbus, and Centennial eventually turn peaches into an afterthought.”
99: Surly’s Darkness 2018
“This is a very congenial beer—one that provides sweetness and comfort in place of fire and brimstone,” writes Jerard Fagerberg of this inky black Russian imperial stout with “deeply satisfying esters of anise, raisin, bourbon, and spice cake” that “drinks like a flannel duvet, coating the throat and chest with generous, blood-thickening warmth.”