Ten Beers to Try

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A week or so ago, reader Doug Peltz, who had noticed my appreciation for good beer, emailed me to exchange beer recommendations.

I regard myself as still on the journey from beer snob to connoisseur, but I enjoyed thinking of this list, perhaps in no small part because I haven't had time to stop by any of my favorite pubs lately.

Since I haven't much time to blog either this week, I'll kill two birds with one stone by posting some slightly modified excerpts from my reply to Doug.


... I have to try [Pilsener Urquell] again. I keep hearing it's good, but the time I tried it I might have gotten a bottle that went bad. If I see it on tap and my mood is right, I'll give it another chance.

Ten Beer Recommendations (In No Particular Order)
  1. Lindemans Gueuze. If you've never tried a lambic before, this style may take some getting used to. I do not recommend drinking it after anything hoppy.
  2. Kostriker Schwartzbier. This is a black lager from the eastern part of Germany. Very tasty, but probably overwhelming to people who prefer or are used to lighter beers.
  3. Schneider Aventinus Weizenstarkbier. Very complex flavor. My wife likes it, too. The same brewer makes a good Eisbier.
  4. Avery Czar Russian Imperial Stout. As I once put it on my blog: "The iron fist of the alcohol is felt through the velvet glove of the mouthfeel." (If you held a gun to my head and asked me to name a favorite style of beer, I'd probably say, "Russian Imperial Stout.")
  5. Full Sail's Session. A very tasty lager. Only one person I have ever introduced this to has not liked it. Yes. There are good light lagers out there, even for people like me who prefer ales. Don't let Budmiller cause you to write off all lagers.
  6. St Arnold's Elissa IPA. You'll have to go to Houston to try this as St Arnold's is a small, local brewery. I regard this as their best non-seasonal ale.
  7. Sierra Nevada IPA. This is listed at their site as a "specialty draft", so that may be hard to come by. (My recollection is that it had a red label, unlike the dark green one at the link. Now I'm beginning to wonder just a little bit whether I had another one of their hoppier beers and am recalling the wrong name. Nothing at their site rings a bell for me.)
  8. Left Hand Brewing Company's Milk Stout. Called "milk stout" for the lactose, which sweetens it and makes for a creamier mouthfeel.
  9. Black-and-Blue. Not really a beer, but a nice variant of the "black and tan" serving style. Some bars may call it by a different name, but what you want to ask for is a "black and tan" made with Guinness and Blue Moon.
  10. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. They craft a different one each year during the holidays. Typically big beers, and never disappointing. Some of my friends have succeeded in storing these for two or more years. (Follow "specialty draft" link at #7 above.)
And, for one last bit of advice: If you haven't done so already, you should stop here to pay homage to the late, great Michael Jackson (No! Not that Michael Jackson!), and then buy his Great Beer Guide.


-- CAV

PS: And if you're in Southern California, you should stop by here some time. Yes, Doug. I am jealous. Very jealous!


The Gregor said...

Any good Texan and beer drinker should never leave Shiner off the list!

Myrhaf said...

The current Budweiser commercials call it a lager. I thought it was a pilsner.

Gus Van Horn said...


A good one to remember, and a favorite "default beer" of mine, but I'd already put one that he could't try on the list.


You and they are correct. Pilsner is just a light type of lager.


Anonymous said...

What . . . no Duvel?!! LOL.

Gus Van Horn said...

That's the problem with a list of ten. Lots of good stuff gets left out....

Thanks for your implied recommendation!

I happen to really like their Maredsous 8 and wish I'd listed it.

Jim May said...

I have a sneaking suspicion I may be repeating myself here, but have you ever tried any of the Unibroue beers from Quebec?

"La Fin du Monde" (The End of the World)

"Maudite" (Damned)

"Don de Dieu" (Gift of God)

The names are actually references to history and legends of Quebec. Their dark beers (e.g. Chambly Noire) hold their own against the likes of Guinness and the Trappist beers, according to my Irish-descended bartending fiance ;)

Ironically, I can find these beers routinely here in California, but not until I moved to the United States had I ever heard of them. I used to live in the province of Ontario in Canada, and to this day no one there who hasn't been to Quebec has ever seen or heard of Unibroue's beers, which is a shame.

It's a pointed reminder of what some of the critics of the original US-Canada free trade treaty sometimes said -- "why have free trade with the U.S. when we don't even have it inside Canada?"

Gus Van Horn said...

I've had the first two of those (and La Fin du Monde was my favorite for a while).

Your remarks on their (non)availability in Canada also remind me that during the time I grew up, the world has seen the United States go from being a beer drinker's desert to a place with one of the more vibrant beer cultures in the world.

The last time I want to Europe -- about eight years ago -- it seemed like I could not escape ads for Budweiser.

Sacrilege! (Even if for tourists.)

Monica said...

Gus -- if you ever in Cooperstown, NY, there is a brewery there by the name of Ommegang? I had some of their beer about 10 years ago and it was incredible.

Left Hand Brewing Co. is near here and I have not tried their stuff yet. Glad to hear it is good.

I may have asked you this before, but do you brew your own beer? You seem like a good candidate for the hobby. I am not an expert by any means but I would like to get back into it again within the year.

Gus Van Horn said...

I'd heard of Ommegang at some point, but have never had it, so thanks for the reminder.

I am, nominally, a home brewer, but time to brew is very rare. I have so far done a few extract brews and aspire to partial mash (if I'm even remembering the term correctly).

I'm pretty much a newbie, but that will eventually change!

Monica said...

Well you will only be a few hours away from Cooperstown soon! :)

I too am a newbie at home brewing. But it is one of those hobbies that I would really like to develop in time.

Gus Van Horn said...

That fact isn't lost on me!

Once I get situated up there, there is lots of good potential for historic day/weekend trips that incorporate brewery visits.

Kim said...

My husband started brewing his own beer after a friend of ours put a buzz in his ear. After outfitting ourselves with the appropriate equipment for extract brewing using a full boil, I have to say that I'm a convert. Having a Bud drinking dad, I never much cared for really flavorful beers until my husband started brewing. He just did a honey brown that I like a lot. I find it interesting to note how it matures. I'm not quite as into the bitterness as he is, so every once in a while I get to pick a recipe.

Gus Van Horn said...

Were I brewing frequently, my wife would insist on the same arrangement as I like the hoppier beers.

canuck49 said...

A McEwans Scotch Ale to the memory of The Beer Hunter.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hear, hear!