Beer: Alt Nouveau
Brewery: North Coast Brewing Company (Fort Bragg, CA)
5.4% ABV / 38 IBU
Everything old is new again, and in the case of altbier, that’s especially true. Altbier is an old style of brewing in Germany that fell out of favor with the rise of lagers but is now experiencing an uptick in production due to beer nerd curiosity over ancient brewing techniques. Well, a slight uptick in production – you’ll never see an altbier craze like The Great Milkshake IPA Frenzy of 2018, because the style isn’t extreme enough to be truly trendy and the glory, at least right now, is in innovating with high-gravity beers.
But credit to North Coast Brewing Company (makers of the legendary Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout) for this intriguing modern riff on altbiers, especially since it’s the kinda thing that isn’t being driven by market concerns and there isn’t an obvious demand for it. Purists will probably point to the fact that it’s too overly-hopped and overly-carbonated to present as a true altbier, but its status as an altbier is cemented by the presence of top-fermenting yeast. I also dig the caramel notes, probably from the malt, both in the nose and the taste – Alt Nouveau is slightly sweet and highly drinkable. You don’t really even notice the hops – they’re definitely in the mix, and this is a hop-forward beer overall, but it’s the malt notes that offer the basic theme.