Beer Town: Craft beer’s lighter and brighter tastes

Most of the top beers at beer geek rating sites like and are still hoppy double IPAs and other big, strong beers such as imperial stouts and Belgian quads.

But as noted in many places, lately, tastes have been changing. And as more American craft breweries and beer drinkers embrace lighter, brighter styles, some old favorites, including pale and amber ales are being discontinued, while once famous IPAs are being reformulated to fit new profiles with more vivid flavors and aromas and less harsh bitterness.

In an excellent piece in Bon Appétit, beer writer Joshua M. Bernstein tracks the case of Southern California’s Stone Brewing Co., which made its name selling bold, aggressively hopped beers like Arrogant Bastard and Ruination, claiming the defiant motto, “You’re Not Worthy,” as a badge of honor.

Now, Stone has discontinued its session-style amber, Levitation Ale, while updating and revising both Ruination and its classic Pale Ale. Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 is brewed using “hop-bursting,” a technique that extracts citrusy, tropical essences without adding bitterness. And Stone Pale Ale 2.0 showcases the Mandarina Bavaria hop, a new German variety with bright peach and orange flavors.

In July, in another, maybe more surprising piece, New York Times food and wine writer Eric Asimov told of his rediscovery of gose (pronounced GOZE-uh), the tart, low alcohol German wheat beer that is often flavored with coriander and/or salt. Asimov describes one tasting as a “lively, citrusy, spicy, sour, saline brew” and declares the style perfect for summer.

Of course, gose has been gaining more ground with many American craft beer brewers and drinkers, recently. Around Atlanta, Westbrook Gose from South Carolina has been a big seller for the past couple of years. Asimov names it the best the American-brewed version he’s tried, noting its saltiness. He also likes Sixpoint’s Jammer, which is not labeled gose, and is less tart, but is flavored with coriander and salt.

Closer to home, Cucumber and Lime Tritonia from Athens’ Creature Comforts is a limited edition, draft-only take on gose that’s a tart, coriander and salt-flavored offshoot of the brewery’s very popular Athena German-style Berliner weisse.

Avondale’s Wild Heaven is brewing Emergency Drinking Beer, a light, low alcohol session-style that marries aspects of a pilsner and a gose and gets its bright, saline flavor profile from additions of citrus zest, Portuguese sea salt and lemongrass.

Atlanta’s Second Self is brewing a tart, draft-only take on traditional gose that includes the addition of fresh ginger, which brings a spicy edge to the coriander and salt flavors.

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