I hate to admit it, but I had some trouble coming up with a topic this week. I’ve been reading a couple of beer books for fun, but I don’t think I’m the one who should preach about beer history… at least not right now.
But when I was looking through my past archives, I realized something. I’ve never just sat back, looked in my fridge and taken time to appreciate what was already there, sans planning.
So I present to you: A short summary of five brews I had sitting around in my fridge. There’s variety, I promise. And if you’re thinking this is a lazy post, think of the theme as “Good, unique beers under $10.” Actually, all but one (#2) were under $8. As a plus, I’ll even rank them from least to most worth a try… though none of these were bad.
5. New Belgium Coconut Curry Hefeweizen: 3.5
Give the New Belgium crew points for trying something crazy. The coconut curry does come through in the smell and taste through a potpourri of odors: lemon honey butter, boozy coconuts and coriander in the smell and wheat, cinnamon, coconut, dusty cayenne and spicy ginger in the taste. It’s a little watery and doesn’t come together very well, but it’s incredibly unusual. Also, beware its looks. It’s hazy gold can’t hide all of the pond scum-like sediment floating around.
4. Fort Collins Out of the Ashes Rauchbier: 3.75
This one has a lot going for it, but it didn’t live up to the Gold Medal it received at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012. Out of the Ashes pours a clear gold with a big, bubbly white head that dissipates quickly, making it the weakest part of the beer. But the smell is very bonfire-like, with a mesquite barbecue scent that reminded Danielle of “a honey-baked ham.” It was very light bodied, but all of the smoky oak flavors stayed, and linger on after the crispness dries out the beer’s finish. A sweet maltiness balances it all out. Good for enjoying barbecue without getting the whole hog.
3. The Perfect Crime Hollow Point Quadrupel: 3.9
Just short of outstanding, this quadrupel was a cloudy chestnut and sported a thick, tan head with decent lacing. It smells of boozy raisins, sweet malt and molasses was about par for the style, but the beer’s taste was very thick, boozy and full of more molasses and prunes. Very mellow, with some honey to smooth itself down your gullet. I’m just a fan of the style. This one might be hard to get (it was pointed out to me at my liquor store as a “one-time thing”), but it’s worth buying if you find it.
2. Verhaeghe Vichte Vichtenaar Flemish Ale: 4
It’s hard for me NOT to rank a sour beer as no.1 on any list. This one isn’t an exception. This example of a “Flander’s Red Ale” from Belgium is a translucent cola brown, with a big tan head with great retention. It smells like alcohol-soaked barrel wood, tannins and unripened raspberries. Its taste is very sour up front but finishes crisp, with black cherries and oak from middle to end. This one stood out because every part of it was subtle, and every part was exceptionally done. No crazy colors, no nose-raping smells. No palate-shattering flavors. But it was all very well put together.
1. Bear Republic Big Bear Stout: 4.25
This one’s a classic, AND easy to get across most the country. It was also the cheapest of the beers on this list ($5), which gives it a few more points. Big Bear Stout is a thick, ebony beast with a boozy, roasty smell that brings out baker’s chocolate, espresso and a little caramel. In the taste you get a rich, creamy body to carry more dark chocolate cake and deeply roasted malt flavors. It’s 8% ABV, but it’s impossible to notice. And even though the “charry” bitterness in some beers is one of my least favorite flavors of anything I put in my mouth, solid or liquid, it somehow works in this beer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Very well done.