As a kid, I always looked forward to sweeps week, the time when television companies would broadcast new episodes of popular shows to drive up ratings and—if they were lucky—set up a season of success.
But two times a year seemed to turn into four, which seemed to turn into, well, just about all the time. These days, a new TV show debuts every few weeks. The same could be said for craft beer. There were once spring, summer, fall and winter seasonals. Now, though, the industry releases a new beer at every possible turn or excuse. This one has rose hip, that one hibiscus. Here's a collaboration between two notable breweries, and there's a beer tied to a music festival.
All this equates to a lot of get-it-while-you-can, supply-and-demand vexation. Oftentimes, you're only allowed to buy a six-pack, four-pack or, in extreme cases, a single bottle. Sometimes, though, great beer just arrives in your backyard.
From Clayton, Deep River Brewing's Mango Tango Foxtrot is one such example. I'd call the IPA a sleeper hit, but the company recently released limited four-packs of 16-ounce cans, so Deep River understands it has gold on its hands. When you pop open the can, huge citrus notes will slap you in the face. You'll get some mango, sure, and hints of guava. (Despite the name and taste, brewer Paul Auclair says there's no mango involved.) Oddly, as fruity as it smells, the bitter, resin-like bite of the hops makes folks go googly-eyed.
Still, it's quite balanced. With a moderate ABV (5.7 percent), the hop bomb (75 IBUs) has a medium body, making it incredibly drinkable. Several Australian hop varieties give it oomph, but the yeast strain and malt bill keep it centered. Although I did not taste any chocolate or cherry, the subtle, lingering sweetness reminds me of a candied cherry covered in chocolate malt. Bell's Hopslam Ale does this with honey. You won't say "I taste honey," but sweetness lingers after the bitter hops' hard bite fades.
There's gold beer in Johnston County; don't let it, like the season, escape before you enjoy it.
Eat This is a recurring column about great new dishes and drinks in the Triangle. Had something you loved? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.