Xocoveza – Stone Brewing – Escondido, CA

A slightly viscous pour of this seasonal spiced Milk Stout yields a medium, slightly rocky brown head on an enthusiastically effervescent black body with sullen orange highlights; head retention is brief but lacing is excellent, consisting of thick sheets and bands. The nose is medium in intensity, leading with bitter coffee notes backed by a nicely complex blend of rich cocoa and more subtle molasses, milk chocolate and exotic cinnamon-like spice; modest alcohol overtones top things off.

Pinner – Oskar Blues Brewing Co. – Lyons, CO

This session IPA pours to a medium pebbly white head that quickly degrades to a ring atop a clear, slightly sparkling golden beer. On the nose, it is all hops: a nice strong blend of citrus, pine and resin. On the palate, it is also characteristically hop-dominated, with strong pine and lemon flavors up front, joined by a significant hoppy bitterness on the back end, with nice pineapple and floral notes; really no maltiness to speak of. The finish is bitter, middling for the style, with lingering pineapple and florals. The linger on the bitterness is also middling for the style, but the hops flavors stick around longer. The mouthfeel is thinner than expected, and very prickly due to the strong carbonation. This is a refreshing, very drinkable beer.

Original Oktoberfest – Hacker-Pschorr Bräu – München, Germany

This Märzen pours to a briefly-lived, slightly pebbly medium off-white head on a singularly dusky medium-amber body, which is clear and slightly sparkling. The nose is expectedly moderate in intensity: bready malt and apples with a slight noble hops spiciness. On the palate, it presents itself as a well-balanced blend of spicy hops and lightly-toasted bready malt, with hints of apples and green grapes. The finish is sweetish bready malt and hints of alcohol, followed by a mild spicy hop bitterness that lingers until the next sip. Mouthfeel is medium, and the texture is smooth and creamy with a moderate pepperiness from the fizzy carbonation.

All Day IPA – Founders Brewing Co. – Grand Rapids, Michigan

This low-ABV IPA is a very slightly hazy, slightly sparkling deep gold beer; its brief-lived, giant pebbly ivory-colored head leaves very sparse streaks of lacing. The nose is big: a nice, balanced blend of citrus, pine and florals. On the palate it starts as bitter, sour grapefruit, joined mid-palate by the pine and the florals. There is really no malt presence to speak of, and it is quite dry as far as sweetness goes. The finish is piney florals, followed by the onset of a style-moderate clinging hop bitterness that lingers for a few minutes. The mouthfeel is biggish for the light-medium body- this is one session IPA that is not watery- and the texture is moderately creamy. The carbonation is fairly soft and does not really make itself known. Altogether, this is a very drinkable beer.

Weekend Vibes – Wilmington Brewing Co. – Wilmington, NC

This is a straightforward, single-hopped New England-style Imperial IPA from Wilmington Brewing Company that proves that they can play the New England-style game just as well as they can West Coast-style. Turbid as juice and pale gold in color, it wears a large, slightly pebbly white head that leaves fair swoops and bands of lacing. The medium nose is delicious: candied pineapple with sweetish herbal topnotes and hints of tamarind and lemon.

Neon God – New Anthem Beer Project – Wilmington, NC

Neon God is one of New Anthem's popular "milkshake IPAs": a hazy New England-style IPA brewed with lactose. It pours to a medium pebbly off-white head on a turbid, golden body; lacing consists of moderate bands, splotches and dots. The aroma is medium in intensity: a tasty blend of pineapple, grapefruit, and candylike notes, backed by hints of tamarind and slight alcohol overtones.

People’s Porter – Foothills Brewing Co. – Winston-Salem, NC

People's Porter pours to a thick, lingering creamy light-tan head atop an effervescent, turbid deep-brown body with dirty ruby highlights; lacing consists of moderate rafts and swoops. The nose is fairly assertive for the style: a nice blend of dark roasted malt flavors, predominately cocoa, dark toffee and bitter chocolate. Up front, the palate is tart, thinnish bitter milk chocolate; mid-palate, a significant toffee presence and a hint of sweetness build in, joined at the back by faint alcohol undertones. The finish is a brief flash of molasses and toffee, followed by the onset of a moderate chocolatey bitterness that lingers awhile. Mouthfeel is appropriate for the medium body, and the texture is slightly creamy and peppery from the fizzy carbonation.

Hopsecutioner – Terrapin Beer Co. – Athens, GA

Hopsecutioner is a slightly hazy, pale amber beer that sports a thick, lingering fluffy just-a-bit-off-white head that leaves moderate amounts of lacing. Its nose is big: mostly pineapple, resinous pine and floral notes, with lesser amounts of bright citrus and some boozy undertones. Up front, the palate is bitter pineapple and citrus; by midpalate a slightly-toasted, slightly-sweet bready malt foundation shows through, balancing the flavor through the end; the hops flavor broadens to include the pine and floral notes from the nose. The finish is quite clean, with just a hint of pine left behind; this is quickly joined by a moderate hoppy bitterness that lingers a few moments. Mouthfeel is a bit bigger than might be expected from the light/medium body, and the texture is creamy and smooth. This is a very well-balanced, drinkable IPA.

NoDa Brewing Company – Charlotte, NC

We stopped at NoDa's North Tryon Street location about opening time (noon) on a holiday weekend Saturday. The taproom itself is pretty good sized, and nice enough; there is a good bit of seating outside as well, which was really nice as it was a beautiful day. Parking was also plentiful, which is not the case at every taproom in Charlotte.

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