Beer Group 1

     About fifteen years ago I decided to try something beyond the normal lagers and pilsners I had been drinking for years. It was an easy task to start on, the sheer variety of beers brewed in the United States these days (not to mention in the rest of the world) is staggering. It’s a shame that I’ll never be able to sample every beer that is brewed, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. These days I seldom have more than a beer or two in a day, so when I do have a brew I want something to titillate my taste buds.

     The history of beer goes back millennia in areas as far apart as China and Egypt. The cultivation of grains and the subsequent production of bread and beer was probably one of the cornerstones of civilization in my opinion. Brewing beer with hops as a flavoring and preserving agent seems to date to eighth or ninth century Europe and was perfected in Germany in the thirteenth century. This would seem to mark the beginning of modern brewing techniques. And the peasants rejoiced!

     The consolidation of breweries in America was ongoing throughout much of the last century and many fine local beers disappeared or had their brewing processes changed. The rise in the number of microbreweries and specialty producers has been a welcome development over the past twenty or thirty years.

     The huge success of the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) has surely been one of the biggest contributing factors to this trend. The community of quality brewers in the United States is as diverse and vibrant now as any time in its history. And I rejoiced!

     And now here is a list of some of my favorite beers by style. This is not meant to be a definitive exposition on these beverages, just some general impressions of some of my particular favorites.

Beer Group 2



Stone Brewing: Double Bastard – With the possible exception of the Vertical Epic Ales, this is the best brew ever released by Stone. The hops bitterness doesn’t overpower the malty sweetness for a well balanced taste. Absolutely bursting with flavor, this can be a bit overpowering.

Schmaltz Brewing: HeBrew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah Thirteenth Anniversary Ale – That is a mouthful in more ways than one. Thirteen malts, thirteen hops, and a ridiculous 13% ABV. There is obviously a lot going on here, so sip away and try to identify as many of the flavors as you can



Gulden Draak This is described in various places as a dark trippel style ale, but the brewer describes it as a barley wine style ale. I’ll go with the brewer on this one. This has been at the top of my list for some time and I have found no reason to think that it won’t remain there.

Bell’s Brewery: Third Coast Old Ale I tried this recently and it is the best American Barleywine I have tasted to date.

O’Hanlon Brewing: Thomas Hardy’s Ale – A favorite of mine which has unfortunately been retired. I only have a few bottles of the 2007 left in the cellar.

Nils Oscar: Swedish Barley Wine – Another favorite of mine, I haven’t been able to find since September 2009. The really bad part is
I don’t have any left in storage.

J.W. Lees: Harvest Ale – This reminds of the Thomas Hardy’s Ale, and is a more than adequate replacement for that excellent brew. This comes in four different caskings – port, sherry, calvados, and whiskey – in addition to the straight. Try them all and decide your favorite.



Chimay: Grande Reserve - A Belgian strong ale. This is without a doubt the best that I have tasted. I like it much better than the Rochefort 8, but I have not been able to find the Westvleteren 8 to compare it against. Until then, this is my favorite of this style.

Brouwerij Bosteels: Deus Brut de Flanders A light colored and light bodied, effervescent ale that doesn’t taste like any other Belgian Strong Ale that I’ve tasted. At $30 a bottle it is also one that I’m not going to drink often.

Ommegang: Adoration – This is a winter ale brewed with spices including coriander, cardamon, mace, grains of paradise, and sweet orange peel. A smooth, unique taste. Not as good as the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, but still worth drinking.

Delirium Tremens - Yeah, I know, yet another Belgian strong ale. Try it, you might like it. I admit I originally tried this just because of the name, but it is a pretty darn good example of its style.



Ommegang: Abbey Ale - This is a very good Dubbel style Belgian and is another example of why Ommegang is one of my favorite breweries. On a price versus quality basis, these guys are right up there with anyone in the world.

St. Bernard Brouwerij: Pater 6/Prior 8 – These are both listed as dubbels but the Pater is lighter in both taste and ABV @ 6.7 % vs. 8 % for the Prior. What they have in common is both are excellent.

Chimay: Rouge – Another favorite of mine, I like to drink this at a warmer temperature than the other dubbels (55–60°F). This is one I would like to try after at least a year or two of cellaring.



Unibroue: La Fin du Monde – This is the only trippel that I drink on a regular basis.



Brasserie Rochefort: Trappistes 10 – I have had this new and at two years old. The difference is astounding. This is what first got me to look into cellaring beer. Thanks to Matt at Sunseed Food.

Ommegang: Three Philosophers - Based on quadrupel style Belgian ale, Ommegang Breweries adds a bit of Lindeman's Kriek (a cherry lambic from Belgium) to give this excellent brew a very pleasant flavor. I recently drank a two year old bottle and found that the taste was much mellower than the newer brew. A very pleasant mouth feel without the bit of harshness present in the younger version.

St. Bernard Brouwerij: St. Bernardus Abt 12 - Another quadrupel that should be at the top of anyone’s list, this was one of my first forays into Belgian Ales. If you like Belgian ales of any type, give this one a try.



Fuller’s: 1845 This is a very well balanced ale, fruity and slightly sweet up front with just enough hops for a nicely lingering bitterness at the end.

Fuller’s: Vintage Ale – Fuller bodied and smoother than the 1845 it also has a higher ABV. This ale is very smooth and every vintage year I have had has been very good.

Samuel Smith: Yorkshire Stingo – Aged in oak casks for at least a year before being bottled, this is very drinkable without further aging. This is a full bodied brew with a pleasant range of tastes throughout.



Fuller’s: ESB – This is the only ESB style I have ever tasted and I enjoyed it quite a bit. This is just one more reason why Fuller’s is one of my favorite breweries.



Bell’s Brewery: Expedition Stout This is without a doubt the best Stout, and one of the best beers in any category, I have ever tasted. Be careful when you pour this because there is a lot of sediment in the bottom of the bottle.

Samuel Smith: Oatmeal Stout – Not much to say about this, but it is my favorite oatmeal stout by a mile.

Oskar Blues: Ten FIDY – The chocolate malts and roasted barley really come through in this beer. It pours very dark with a rich brown head. I know other people have their own favorites, but this is my perfect imperial stout.

St Peter’s Cream Stout - This is a smooth, creamy concoction with a lovely aftertaste. Drink this near room temperature (or at least warmer than any lager or pilsner if you are new to this type) to get the full taste. If you don’t normally like stouts, give this one a try.

Beer Group 3

     These are the favorite beers that I happen to have in the house right now, a couple of which I have tasted while finishing this section of my site. The beer I’m drinking right now is usually my favorite, but there is no excuse for drinking a bad tasting beer.
     As you can see from reading this section, over many years of beer tasting, I’ve become partial to the various styles of Belgian brews, barleywines, stouts, and English strong ales. I don’t think this is likely to change, but I’ll let you know.

Beer Group 4

















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