Last week, we posted an article on the worst beers out there, and it drew a lot of interest.
But what about the good beers that deserve a mention?
Try one of these obscure but great beers as recommended by beer expert Jon Richards. Known simply as “Mr. Beer”, Richards is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server from The Growler Station in Greenville, South Carolina, who spends his days tasting various ales.
1. Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout
Speaking of a tear in my eye, before the Caldera, the last beer to do that was this one, a little more than a year ago. Anderson Valley specializes in reasonable strength beer, and they coaxed a boatload of flavor out of a beer which won’t leave you wondering where your bedroom went. It has a huge oak and bourbon aroma, but don’t be deceived; the flavor comes in with toffee, caramel and vanilla, and then dries out with wood and a touch of charcoal smokiness on the finish. Look for the turkey on the label.
2. Avery duganA
Maybe you’ve heard of duganA, maybe you haven’t. It seems to be Maharaja’s less well known brother, but it’s equally worth checking out. Much more pine, spruce and forest flavors than its big brother, and a big earthy, dank hop aroma to boot. A round, smooth maltiness does not overpower the dry hoppy finish, and the earthiness lingers. Great with big cheddars and earthy swiss, it’s also a good combination to full creamy pasta dishes especially with Italian sausage or pancetta.
3. Brewery 85 Sweet Tea Sour
The first sour offering for this brewery uses a South Yeast Labs wild saison yeast for fermentation, and it’s quite a pleasant surprise. It really does taste like sweet tea with lemon. And I’m not talking about some of the cotton candy sweet teas that show up in some of our diners or fast food drive thru lanes; I mean something much closer to an Arnold Palmer. The aroma from the centennial hops really sticks the landing on creating a tea aroma as well.
4. Caldera Hopportunity Knocks
This beer is a revelation of hop aroma and flavor. At a respectable IPA strength of 6.8%, they managed to cram 100 IBUs into this beauty. Mingled floral and citrus aromas greet you, and the beer follows suit adding a light bodied but persistently sweet maltiness to keep the hops in check. This one brought a little tear to my eye which is fairly rare these days.
5. Dogfish Head Piercing Pilsner
For those who are still holding out against pilsners, stop it. Go get one of these….now! The signature fresh floral aroma of Saaz hops, and the soft, clean, smooth maltiness of a czech style pilsner are all here on center stage, but playing around them and stealing the show like Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are the aroma and light touch of sweetness from the pear tea and juice. Light bodied, and amazingly crisp and refreshing, let this beer help you through a warm spring day.
6. Goose Island Pepe Nero
This one’s a bit of a style-bender. It looks like a stout, and it tastes a bit like a stout, but it doesn’t feel like a stout. Nuts in the aroma and roasted malt on the palate finish with a peppery dry finish and just enough earthiness to remind you that this is a saison at heart. It pairs magnificently with food. Lots of food. Red meat or pork off the grill is amazing here, but the revelation is with grilled or roasted vegetables. If you find a good baked or especially fried brussel sprouts salad, go for it!
7. Quest Kermesse Pumpkin Saison
Quest has not disappointed with their offerings, and the brewmaster’s pumpkin recipes are legendary. This beer is no exception. A lightly sweet and meaty pumpkin flavor settles in first, followed by a dry, earthy yeasty finish, but the pumpkin flavor manages to hold on into the aftertaste and leave nutmeg and pumpkin pie flavor before it’s done with you. Naturally only available near a pumpkin themed holiday of your choice.
8. Sierra Nevada/Russian River Brux
This one seems to bring everyone to tears. A collaboration between brewers of this auspiciousness ought to be magnificent, and it measures up to expectations. Hugely carbonated, and with the unmistakable funk of Brettanomyces yeast, it’s hard to mistake it for anything but a wild yeast beer, but it has an array of flavors and aromas competing for, and often winning, your attention. Fresh pear and apple fruitiness; grassy, floral aromas like a spring meadow, and those signature barnyard aromas all play a part to complement a dry, effervescent, tart, and light bodied brew. Substitute at will for champagne on New Year’s Eve.
9. Thirsty Dog Wulver
This happens to be a leading candidate for the best BBA beer ever made. It lives in bourbon barrels for a solid eleven months, and the recipe is specifically made by Thirsty Dog for bourbon barrel aging. It doesn’t do anything else, and it shouldn’t. It has a big aroma full of molasses and bourbon, a big caramel-y malty sweet body with something more than a touch of vanilla, and a long, burnt, caramelized sugar finish. It’s a very sweet beer, but manages to stay well shy of cloying. A masterpiece.
10. Thomas Creek Conduplico Immundus Monachus (Latin for The Double Dirty Monk)
They call it a double Belgian-style porter. It’s a rich, chocolate-y, slightly fruity Belgian dark with a fairly substantial hop backbone to keep the sweetness from getting out of order. Lighter drinking than you’d probably expect, but rich and satisfying enough for a cold night by a fire. If you can get your hands on a bottle, you won’t be disappointed.
Share this list of exotic brews with all your beer loving friends!