A couple weeks ago, Alexi Front of the Local Option returned from Sweden where he produced his annual music festival for Swedish death metal. Before he left for Scandanavia, I had set him up on a beer date with Pelle Stridh, one of Sweden's preeminent beer experts and producer of the Allt om Öl Festivalen. It went well. A couple hours before opening the bar, Alexi shared a few special hand-offs he received, including the Nynäshamns Valsviken Vinterporter, a 9.1% robust porter with an abundance of malt, lower carbonation and a rye-like zing, perfect for a mid-winter pour.
Ryan Burk of Virtue Cider returned from the northeast over the holidays with a bottle of Flora from Hill Farmstead, a beautiful barrel aged wheat saison that's as delicate and nuanced as it is sessionable. I've been really pleased to see the craft market, typically driven by extremes, starting to balance out with these flavorful, brighter beers that expose their ingredients and craft more transparently.