Fifty Best Beers
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  Country: United States  
  Style: IPA  

Russian River Pliny the Elder
Santa Rosa, California

A smooth Double IPA from the Russian River Brewing Company is all it is hyped up to be. An absolute classic clocking in at 8% ABV. The ale is named for the Roman scholar and naturalist who first named the hop plant and studied them. Pliny the Elder named hops, “lupus salictarius,” meaning, “wolf among scrubs.” The beer is made with 40% more malt and two times the amount of hops used in the Russian River IPA, a single IPA product from the same brewery. A sticky, beige head leaves tons of lacing as the yellowish-orange nectar is gulped down. The aromas include oranges, floral centerpieces and notes of pine. The cream factor that makes this beer smooth and incredibly drinkable is what separates this from other Double IPAs of its kind. A very subtle bite and overall taste with big, bright aromas and malty reinforcement.

Russian River Pliny the Elder

 

  Country: United States  
  Style: Wild Ale  

Russian River Supplication
Santa Rosa, California

Russian River Brewing Company is famous for their barrel-aged creations. Located in the heart of Sonoma County, where wine flows freely, wine barrels are re-used to age beer. Supplication, one of these ales has been aging in local Pinot Noir wine barrels for one year along with sour cherries. Brettanomyces yeast is added to this honey-brown colored ale for extra leathery funk. Lactobacillus and Pedicoccus, two types of bacteria from the used wine barrels, impart a very tart zing. The taste is tart up front before giving way to the smooth wood-aged components on the finish. Grape flavors leap out at you, along with lemon and cherry. The acidic quality is not overpowering at all and neither is the 7% ABV.

Russian River Supplication

 

  Country: Belgium  
  Style: Saison  

Saison DuPont Vielle Provision
Tourpes, Belgium

Located in the tiny village of Tourpes in the southern farmlands of Belgium near the French border. The Brasserie DuPont has carefully constructed this Saison farmhouse-style ale in small batches since 1850. The ale is burnt straw yellow in color and unfiltered, leaving an opaque cloudy appearance. High-carbonation is evident with a luscious white head frothing freely upwards. There are hints of peppery spice and licorice lapping at the tongue, with earthy undertones. A light and refreshing ale with a snappy, dry finish. Lemon tang zips through each sip intertwining a mellow citrus feel, while herb-like yeastiness sits thick on the palate. Delicious with soft, aged cheeses and seafood.

Saison DuPont Vielle Provision

 

  Country: Germany  
  Style: Rauchbier  

Schlenkerla Urbock
Bamberg, Germany

Schlenkerla is a historic brewpub where on any given night you can come in and have a glass of “Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier,” or “Authentic Schlenkerla Smoked Beer.” One can observe the Dominikanerklause, a famous gothic ceiling in the tavern while tasting the famous smoked beer styles of Germany. Smoked German malts impart aromas of burnt wood, cured meats, campfires and toffee— reminiscent of walking into a local charcuterie shop of smoked meats. Dark-brown, almost cola-like lager style with a thin beige head, the Urbock is more subtle then most other smoked beers, finishing sweet and tangy. This beer would pair outstandingly well with most cuts of meats, barbecue, and aged cheeses, in addition to smoked fish and all sorts of smoked food products where the flavors are accentuated.

Schlenkerla Urbock

 

  Country: United States  
  Style: Saison  

Stillwater Cellar Door
Baltimore, Maryland

Brian Strumke is a part of a trend of brewers who have no brewery of their own, yet create delicious beers at breweries and brewpubs both stateside and in Europe. Stillwater Artisanal Ales usually create saison style ales, and the Cellar Door is no exception. Cellar Door, referred to as the most beautiful term in the English language, is the summer edition of Stillwater’s stateside lineup of brews. German wheat and pale malts blend with Sterling and Citra hops to create a grassy, citrus aroma. There is a “cleansing” theme to this saison accentuated by the interesting use of white sage, which gives this dry saison an herbal quality and spicy earthiness. Cellar Door is great to pair with Italian red sauce dishes or roasted poultry.

Stillwater Cellar Door

 

  Country: United States  

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous
Escondido, California

Originally started as the 11th Anniversary Ale by Stone Brewing Company. Sublimely Self-Righteous is a Black IPA, which all other beers of its kind are judged against. The benchmark for the Black IPA style, this 8.7% ABV ale is straight black in color. The best way to describe the style would be a hopped up take on a bold porter. There are layers of hop flavor from the use of Chinook, Simcoe and Amarillo hops leaving the beer at 90 IBUs. A technique of roasted dark colored malts provides a chocolaty, coffee flavor, with the aromas of tropical fruits from the hops.

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous

 

  Country: United States  
  Style: IPA  

The Alchemist Heady Topper
Waterbury, Vermont

After a recent hurricane washed out southern Vermont’s Mad River Valley Region, the Alchemist Pub and Brewery was forced to close due to flooding. Fortunately, the watery interruption coincided with the opening of a cannery on the other side of town, and the Alchemist’s are back in business. The Heady Topper is a delicious, hazy, double IPA— orange in color, unfiltered and unpasteurized. The beer tastes quite piney with tons of fresh grass hop flavor. Smooth and creamy finish, with a piney resin coating the mouth. John Kimmich, the Alchemist brewmaster, recommends drinking this 8% ABV American Double IPA right out of the can.

The Alchemist Heady Topper

 

  Country: United States  
  Style: Imperial Stout  

Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout
Munster, Indiana

This Russian Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing Company has its own day devoted to it. On the day that this beer is available for sale at the brewery there are ticket raffles for vintage beers, tailgating parties and plenty of drinking. Highly devoted beer fans make this event a sold out success every year, released each April with different colored wax-dipped tops marking the year or vintage. The Dark Lord is worth the hype, too. Black as night, this stout weighs in at a walloping 15% ABV. Dark Lord is brewed with “Intelligensia” coffee, vanilla beans and molasses. A very dark, dense ale shows tons of coffee flavors from roasted chocolaty malts. The coffee rides in waves over vanilla, with a light chocolate base and a boozy bite seeping in at the end of each sip. Barrel aged versions of this ale are also available.

Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout

 

  Country: United States  
  Style: Pale Ale  

Three Floyds Zombie Dust
Munster, Indiana

Formerly known as Cenotaph, Zombie Dust is a pale ale from Three Floyds Brewing Company. Zombie Dust displays the delights of the Citra hop from the Yakima Valley in Washington State, which imparts a piney, grassy flavor over this grainy pale ale. The feel is creamy, and a rocky white head sits atop a yellowish-orange body. The beer is not very bitter, but filled with aromas better fit in a lawn mower bag. Zombie Dust has a slight flavor of pineapple, with a dry, smooth easy drinking finish. This pleasurable ale features artwork of a zombie king on the label drawn by comic book artist Tim Seeley.

Three Floyds Zombie Dust

 

  Country: United States  
  Style: Red Ale  

Troegs Nugget Nectar
Hershey, Pennsylvania

Troegs releases this masterpiece every February. Nugget Nectar is a perfect balance between sweet, malty flavors and bitter hops. Three hop varieties: Nugget, warrior and Tomahawk, each lend their distinctive flavors to the mix. The base of this ale is Troegs’ year-round flagship Hopback Amber. The malt and hop flavors are intensified by increasing the dosage. Sweet apricot flavors in this amber colored ale wash over the palate before being sliced by a crisp, bitter hop bite. The pleasant and fruity malt back is ever present diminishing the intensity of the bittering hops. This beverage, also known as an Imperial Amber ale, rounds out to a 7.5% ABV.

Troegs Nugget Nectar

 

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