Before I dive into reviewing more exciting, exotic beers, I think it’d be best to start with a couple of hometown favorites of mine. When I started reviewing beers, I just kind of dove in face first, buying random beers from random breweries with wild reckless abandon. And there was nothing wrong with that! But sooner or later I realized that I’d neglected the beers I actually drink — the ones that, up to this point, I’d kind of taken for granted.
So going back to my roots, I’ve decided to pick up a couple of my favorites from New Belgium: Sunshine Wheat and 1554 Enlightened Black Ale. The two are wildly different beers in color and taste, but what’s wild is that they’re both what I consider “stepping stone” beers.
Sunshine Wheat, the light, fruity, drink-any-time-of-day beer, is perfect for people just getting into beer. With its light fluffy head and crystal clear chardonnay-yellow complexion, it looks just like bottled sunshine. Even if you think it tastes like armpits (it doesn’t), it’ll at least look nice in your hand. The taste is pretty light and fresh as well, with the carbonation and sweet citrus riding the beer down your throat. Sunshine Wheat is one of those beers that might make you a beer drinker without you even knowing it. Sneaky sneaky.
In the next step up, 1554 will hold your hand and guide you gently into the world of darker beers. Unlike Sunshine, 1554 is black as sin, with a thick frothy head that resembles hot cocoa. Also cool, if you hold it up to a light, you’ll notice that it looks like a rich, raspberry red. The smell is slightly roasty and sweet, like burnt marshmallows, but it isn’t in-your-face. What makes it a stepping-stone, however, is the taste. It can hit kind of hard with spicy rye malt flavor at first, but it’s mellow sailing all the way down. A milk chocolate taste moves in slowly and lingers after you finish. It’s not thick or incredibly complex (I kind of wish it was), but that makes it all the more drinkable.
They’re both great. I reviewed them on BeerAdvocate (check my twitter), but my personal ratings would be 89 and 91, respectively.
On another note, please let me know if you have any suggestions for the blog! More updates to come.