We finally made it to 2021!! Here’s hoping for a better year.
And, to start things off, I wanted to share one of my favorite brews from last year - Fiddler’s Dream from Newgrass Brewing, which ranked #5 on my list of the best beers of 2020.
Newgrass Brewing Co. calls the small(er) city of Shelby, North Carolina home, which is nicely situated right between Asheville and Charlotte on Highway 74. While they produce a variety of styles, they focus on hop-forward and Belgian style brews. It looks like right now they only distribute throughout North Carolina and finding them outside of the Tar Heel State can be difficult.
However, I was able to find a can of their Fiddler’s Dream, a year-round IPA brewed with Azacca, Centennial, and Palisade hops and then dry-hopped with Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, and Mosaic hops. They used Vermont yeast and flaked wheat and naked oats as the malt backing. The beer has a 6.7% ABV and a single can was a reasonable $4.75. They also offer an Imperial version, aptly named Fiddler’s Nightmare, which sounds just as good and comes with a massive 9.5% ABV.
My 16-ounce can was packaged on 10/27/20 and was reviewed on 12/17/20.
Fiddler’s Dream poured a dark and murky burnt orange color with a small amount of head forming. The foam was quickly fizzling away as the can was being emptied, leaving just under a finger of eggshell white head remaining when all was said and done. The bubbles were soon nothing more than a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a small webwork of lacing around the whole thing.
It smelled wonderfully hoppy and juicy with a backing of flaked wheat and oat that gave off just a hint of cereal. However, big notes of tropical fruits were most prevalent with the most dominating aromas being those of oranges and pineapple. You could also pick up lighter notes of mango and papaya as well.
My first sip began rather subtly and quietly. There was no big fizzle of carbonation and the flavors were muted at first, not really appearing for a few moments after the sip had ended.
After a long pause the citrus bursts onto the scene and swarms my taste buds. It was orange, orange, and more orange up front. Sweet and juicy oranges with some lightly tart tangerine hitting right behind.
Midway through the flavors, the pineapple hits with some acidity and a brief sharpness but those other tropical fruits found in the smell remained hidden and never made a real appearance.
The grist profile brought a nice balance to the beer, adding some sweetness and cereal-like quality to the final moments of the brew.
Also appearing in those final moments was a grainy resinous feeling that coated my tongue towards the backend, appearing out of nowhere and disappearing a few moments later.
Outside of that resin, Fiddler’ Dream ended very, very cleanly and was a super crushable IPA. I only bought one pint of this brew but am regretting that decision right now...I would love to crack open another one of these guys right now.
Newgrass has something really good here. In fact, this might be one of my favorite brews of the year...I couldn’t believe how delicious this brew was. DDH done right! Good thing it’s available year round! Take out that grainy feeling on the backend and this is an A+ beer...but, even with that, it’s a great buy and totally worth it!