Congratulations to Other Half on yet another great year of releasing some of the best beers in New York City … and the world! Tomorrow, February 8, at 10 a.m., they’ll release their new anniversary beers.
I can’t believe it’s been more than six years since I first tried Green Diamonds on tap at The Pony Bar, in the Upper East Side. At the time, I thought: “This is as good as Heady Topper!” But, now, I realize that Other Half was only just scratching the surface.
Today Other Half is a leader in the world of hoppy beers. In my completely honest opinion, no other brewery makes better IPAs. They are almost always stellar and have really unique flavor profiles—I rarely find myself thinking that that one IPA ever tastes like another. Maybe that’s because so many of them are created in the spirit of collaboration with other breweries, infusing the beers with so many diverse influences. It’s astonishing, really. Other Half pumps out more one-off IPAs than anyone I’m aware of and I can’t remember the last time I was underwhelmed.
And over the past couple years, the brewery has embraced and mastered pastry stouts, even starting a festival Pastrytown. (Tickets on sale now and check out my review of last year’s event to get an idea of what’s in store!) These big, decadent, sweet concoctions that mimic and even sometimes include some of the world’s favorite desserts, have quickly become some of the most sought-after beers Other Half makes. And this year’s anniversary release features four amazing pastry stouts, bringing back a fan favorite in the 5th Anniversary Bananaversary, which I reviewed last year, as well.
Anyway, I won’t pontificate any longer about why I love Other Half so much—on to the reviews!
Line @ Garnet (7.2%)
First off, the can art on this beer is hilarious and really embodies an Other Half release. The name of this IPA brings back fond memories from the first big release I attended for Street Green, their collaboration with Trillium Brewing, from Boston, back in 2015. I was lined up well past Garnet Street, though, and after more than four hours, I happily walked away with my prized hop elixir. After seeing that turnout and meeting people in line who are now lifelong friends, I realized that Other Half was more than just a brewery. They were creating a community in their corner of Brooklyn. This beer is very citrusy with big grapefruit and lime flavors from the Citra and Cashmere hops, followed by white wine and earthy flavors from the Nelson. Line up for this one!
Cost + 10 (8.4%)
If you know what the name of this beer means, you’ve likely used the services of a “mule.” Without these fine people, many Other Half fans would miss out on some of their best releases. As someone with kids, who can’t make it often to Saturday releases, I know firsthand that their services are very convenient for many New Yorkers. Um, how many hops are in this beer? I’m just gonna list them: Mosaic, Galaxy, Citra Incognito, Citra Cryo, Cashmere, Cashmere Cryo, Idaho 7, Idaho 7 Cyro and Loral Cryo. To me, this beer tastes very Galaxy forward. I get big notes of stone fruit, papaya, and grapefruit and other citrus. I really loved this beer.
Batch One Was Better Imperial IPA (7.8%)
Whoops! I didn’t get to try this one. I hope I get to soon, or I’ll have to wait until Batch Two, which we all know won’t be better 😉
4th, 5th, and 6th Anniversary Imperial IPAs
I don’t know what sort of magic Other Half uses to make such balanced, big hoppy beers. All of this year’s triple IPA releases have a perfect amount of malt to balance the higher ABV, without being too sweet. This allows the hops to shine big time, instead of being overpowered by sweetness or booze. They’re super drinkable, creamy, hop smoothies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “How is this 10%? How is this beer so dry?” These Imperial IPAs are just out-of-this world. I would not sleep on trying any of these anniversary Imperial IPAs. Here are my thoughts on the individual beers:
4th Anniversary Quadruple Dry Hopped Imperial India Pale Ale (10.0%)
This is my favorite triple IPA that Other Half has ever made. It’s QUADRUPLE dry-hopped, so, yeah, it’s got a ton of hops in it. As soon as you crack the can, the aroma smacks you in the face. I am a huge fan of Citra, Galaxy, and Mosaic hops. If you aren’t familiar with their profiles, to me, Citra imparts big grapefruit notes, Galaxy gives the beer big stone fruit and orange flavors, and Mosaic always tastes like super ripe blueberries and lemon. This beer has all of that going on, like a big bowl of fruit in liquid form. It’s fantastic and I was glad to get to try it again. I really hope they bring back this beer every year.
5th Anniversary Imperial IPA (10%)
Just like 4th Anniversary, this beer is loaded with some of the best hop varietals around: Citra, Galaxy, and Mosaic. But this version also features Nelson Sauvin, which I think is a great compliment to the other hops … though I like it alone too. (Please, Other Half, bring back the Nelson single-hop IPA!) I always get an earthy, white wine thing from Nelson and you definitely get that on the finish here. The beer is also brewed with oats to give it a super creamy mouthfeel.
6th Anniversary Imperial Pale Ale (10%)
The newest iteration of the anniversary triple IPAs has the big time juicy hops all hopheads are familiar with, but with the addition of perhaps the most-hyped hop of the past year: Riwaka. Riwaka is a hop from New Zealand that is just the most grapefruity a hop can be. It also gives big orangey notes. And those are the predominant flavors.
ANNIVERSARY PASTRY STOUTS
Bananaversary Imperial Stout (15.4%)
It’s baaaaa-aaack! It was first just called 5th Anniversary Everything Imperial Stout, but since the internet dubbed it “Bananaversary,” the brewery decided to make it official. It’s a great name and funny AF. But there’s nothing funny about this beer. It was an eye-opener to me when I first tried and reviewed it last year, and this new batch is really just as good and also my favorite of this year’s anniversary stouts. I love the interplay of the coconut, banana, and macadamia nuts. It’s like the best banana nut bread that you’ve ever tried. I wish that the actual dessert tasted this good. Remember when beer was just yellow fizzy stuff? This beer is the antithesis of that, with roasty, sweet malt and a luscious, thick mouth feel. The flavors just come in waves and build on the palate. Other Half truly created a new style of stout with their use of wild Thai bananas and the world hasn’t been the same since. There are many imitators, but Other Half is still Banana Stout King!
Barrel-aged Bananaversary Imperial Stout (15.4%)
I was very excited to try the barrel-aged version of this beer and it didn’t disappoint whatsoever. The bourbon works really well with the banana and coconut, reminding me almost of a luscious tropical dessert cocktail. The banana is much more pronounced in this variant compared with the non-barrel-aged version. And the mouthfeel on this beer is also a bit thicker and super creamy. It’s just a really well-done pastry stout and worth the effort many people will put in tomorrow to snag a bottle.
Bourbon Barrel-aged All 5th Anniversary Everything (15.4%)
The other barrel-aged variant in this year’s release brings back last year’s other 5th Anniversary stout, with coffee, cinnamon, cacao nibs, vanilla, and Marcona almonds. This bourbon barrel treatment on this beer created a liquid Oreo cookie in a glass. It’s the sweetest of the release, and super decadent and chocolatey. The mouthfeel is also very creamy and luscious but not quite as thick the banana versions.
All 6th Anniversary Everything Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunchee Imperial Stout (15.4%)
When I saw that Other Half was trying out their “Crunchee treatment” on a stout, I was intrigued to see how it would translate. I was absolutely floored by this beer. It really tastes like granola. The aroma is also outrageous—again, it just smells so much like granola. I wouldn’t even say that you can pick out any of the adjuncts individually, because somehow the brewers got the perfect ratios down so they meld together to create liquid granola in a glass, but without using any actual granola. This is stout wizardly at its finest and the type of pastry stout I like the most—creating a cohesive flavor profile that mimics a dessert or food product without actually brewing with it. It’s unbelievably good and I hope they make more “Crunchee stouts” in the future.
Big thanks to the Other Half crew, especially Andrew, Anthony, and Geriz, for helping to make my biggest review ever happen. And good luck to all you Other Half fans on tomorrow’s release—just know that standing in line will definitely be worth it once you try these beers. Cheers to another fantastic 6 years!