As previously noted, Sierra Nevada has won my heart by making Torpedo one of its "regular" beers, available year-round. (Of course, when I was living in China, I was thrilled to find a single "ordinary" Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in a store in Hong Kong -- and then smuggle it back across the border and later open and savor it in a special ceremony in our apartment in Beijing.) At a dinner in Washington a few months ago, I was sitting next to a person who turns out to be in charge of craft-brew distributorship in the DC area. He said that there had been an amazing spike in Torpedo sales in one convenience store in DC. I said, "Would it happen to be the one on MacArthur at...." Of course Sierra Nevada's year-end seasonal "Celebration" Ale is predictably worth waiting for and seeking out.
In the same upbeat spirit, two other breweries -- one the king and pioneer of "mainstream" craft brewing, the other a deserving regional contender -- with offerings that brighten the heart. I took this picture on the back porch in September, when leaves were still on the trees. On the right, Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA. A review that matches my own appreciative thoughts here; the name refers to the latitude-48-North "hop belt" of central Europe and the Pacific Northwest where great hops are grown. (Pro tip: if you see a field of ripening hops, don't be tempted to pick one off the vine and eat it. Yuck! Bittterrrrrrrrrrr!)