10 Craft Beers to Try Right Now Slideshow
June 20, 2011
Saison is a complex and once-endangered style of farmhouse ale that originated in the French-speaking southern part of Belgium, traditionally brewed in the winter months and served all summer long. Ommegang’s Hennepin is the best interpretation you’ll find here in the States. It pours a softly murky straw-gold, with classic clove and spice flavors shining brightly through the Belgian yeast strains that give it that musty farmhouse aroma. Lighter, fruity esters and a dry, crisp finish hide the fact that this beer is nearly 8% ABV.
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, N.Y.)
Farmhouse Saison / 7.7% ABV
Nothing about this bottle makes it look like something you want to put your mouth on. Even apart from the name, its designless label and crudely positioned USDA sticker give the impression that Wyld is best served in a Petri dish at room temperature. The taste is surprising, but not how you might think. Its understated malt flavor is balanced with just enough hops to give it a ripe fruit aroma and dry, piney finish. Superb drinkability and versatility with food pairings aren’t always the top criteria for craft beers, but try this as your go-to sixer the next time you're unsure what to bring to your friend’s backyard barbeque.
Uinta Brewing Co. (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Organic Pale Ale / 4% ABV
Bitch Creek ESB
Typically labeled “Extra Special Bitter,” ESB is an English term that denotes a higher-gravity version of a brewer’s mid-range “bitter,” or session ale. Grand Teton’s award-winning Brown Ale is a robust flavor punch with a long list of ingredients that combine for a complex aroma and a surprisingly smooth finish. Earthy hops and caramel malt define the nose and a blend of Chinook and Centennial hops fill the back end with a pine-resiny, herbal bitterness that expands on the tongue.
Grand Teton Brewing Co. (Victor, Ind.)
Extra Special Brown / 6% ABV
Rich & Dan's Rye IPA
Harpoon founders Dan Kenary and Rich Doyle created this special beer to celebrate the brewery's silver anniversary this year. Now in the 37th installment of its small-batch "100 Barrel Series," this hop-forward IPA features a multidimensional malt body and enough spice and fruity hop presence to stand up to any spicy food dish.
Harpoon Brewery (Boston, Mass.)
Rye IPA / 6.9% ABV
This medium-bodied Belgian Pale Ale was formerly produced as "Zotten" before the small brewery from Easton, Penn., was made aware of a copyright infringement with Brouwerij De Halve Maan in Bruges. Centennial and Cascade hops add a distinctly American twist, but apart from that, this beer stays true to the mold with moderate bitterness and fruity esters imparted by the Belgian yeast. This beer is bottle conditioned so what you do with the yeast particles at the bottom is up to you, just don’t be alarmed by it.
Weyerbacher (Easton, Penn.)
Belgian Pale Ale / 5.9% ABV
Ovila Abbey Dubbel
Abbey beers are the official replica jerseys of beer, a close approximation of the Belgian brewing styles employed by the true Trappist breweries, of which there are only seven remaining. The Dubbel calls for a deep amber color with faint hops and a complex dark fruit and caramel flavor profile. Added candy sugar thins the body and kicks up the gravity. This is a particularly good one from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., with some proceeds going toward the restoration of the Ovila Abbey, which was bought and shipped brick by brick from its home in Spain to Northern California by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in 1931. Not for any particular reason, mind you.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, Calif.)
Abbey Dubbel / 7.5% ABV
Hop-heads will find this beer aptly named, as it is widely considered to be among the best Double IPA's available at the moment. The idea behind the style is pretty straightforward; take a strong, hoppy pale ale, make it even stronger and hoppier, and hope it turns out better. This one is loaded with citrusy, resiny hops from the Pacific Northwest. For a slightly more balanced Pale Ale, also try Bear Republic's XP.
Bear Republic Brewing Co. (Healdsburg, Calif.)
Imperial or Double IPA / 7.5% ABV
Allagash has always been at the forefront of traditional, Belgian-style brewing in the U.S., and this frighteningly quaffable beer marks the brewery's first exploration of barrel aging techniques. Lighter in hue but much heavier in alcohol content than a Dubbel, this Tripel exhibits interesting secondary notes of coconut, vanilla, and bourbon as a result of eight weeks spent in Jim Beam bourbon barrels.
Allagash Brewing Co. (Portland, Maine)
Tripel / 11% ABV
Dogfish Head World Wide Stout
Admittedly, this one is a novelty beer. With an alcohol content and price tag that you would expect to see on a bottle of fortified wine, this is something you might consider drinking after dinner but probably not after work. Still, if you're into stouts, this is it. The smell is like breaking open a box of liquor-filled chocolates and the mouthfeel is thick and chewy, with a blast of barley up front and a shot of coffee liqueur to chase it down.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Del.)
American Double or Imperial Stout / 18% ABV
Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
This style is catching on fast, but it's still new enough that nobody's quite settled on a name for it. It’s believed to have originated in Vermont, though many refer to it as Cascadian Dark Ale since it first spread widely across the Northwest. Others prefer to call it Black IPA, arguing that the name shouldn't be so region-specific. Black IPA is kind of oxymoronic though, so we'll stick with ABA. No matter what people are calling it, many are happily discovering that intense hops and roasty malts need not be mutually exclusive.
Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, Calif.)
American Black Ale / 8.7% ABV