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Friday, June 20, 2008

Beer Spree

Around Chez Alworth, we have no hard-and-fast rule against profligate beer buying, yet I try to moderate my purchases. Since dropping $15 on a wee dram of spontaneously-fermented kriek is an out-of-budget expense, I don't do it often. However, a few months ago, thanks to my superior insight as a basketball prognosticator, I came into some March Madness cash. A hundred and fitty. I may not spend it all on beer, but since it's found cash, I'm gonna go on a spree.

But which beers?

I appeal to you all: which world, national, and local classics do you consider must-tries? Jon has his list, but I've never really thought it through. I recognize that not every beer I should try is on the classic list (Hoegaarden Wit ... yawn.) But others, like Orval, do make my cut as one of the world's best. That beer I reviewed last week (Taras Boulba) was so new the brewers haven't even gotten their own facility yet, and it would be a respectable recommendation. There are at least a dozen world-class beers brewed right here, too.

For what it's worth, if someone asked me this, I'd offer this list (excluding locals, which don't require a spending spree):
  • Budweiser Budvar
  • Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus
  • Coniston Bluebird Bitter
  • Saison Dupont
  • Duvel
  • Fuller's ESB
  • Guinness Extra Stout
  • Hanssen's Oudbeitje
  • Huyghe Delerium Tremens
  • Orval
  • Rodenback Grand Cru
  • St. Peter's Porter
  • Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne
As you can see, my tastes tend toward the Flemish. I would easily double or treble the list if I added domestics (the US is now rivaled by only Belgium in the sheer number of world-class beers it produces). Not limiting yourself to foreign styles only, or even those available in the US, on which beers should I absolutely, positively spend my hoops lucre?


  1. How about Allagash Curieux, or any of the other fine beers from their barrel-aged series?

  2. Hennepin Farmhouse Saison from Ommegang.

  3. I can't believe you left out Kingfisher!

  4. I absolutely agree with Fred from the Wood - imo this beer will ultimately go down as one of the all-time great beers.

    I also think the Allagash is a good pick, but the Hugh Malone might be the pick there (although you can't really quibble with the Curieux)

  5. I would add the Lost Abbey collection which you can pick up in Washington at Buy the Bottle. I'm partial to the Red Barn myself.

  6. And speaking (loosely) of Lost Abbey, you might also consider a bottle of the Tomme Arthur / De Proef collaboration 'Signature Ale'.

  7. Or any of Russian River's Belgian eries, though they can be tough to lay hands on in this neck of the woods.

  8. Thanks, guys. Allagash is a good idea--they've had national attention for years now, and I've been neglectful. Hennepin is an amazing beer and very closely rivals Dupont (apostasy notwithstanding). Fred from the Wood--I'll try to track it down. I'll check out Lost Abbey if I can find it.

    Kingfisher ... no.

  9. I know this thread has probably reached the end of it's lifecycle, but I can't resist adding one more that I just tried: Avery's 15th Anniversary beer, fermented with 100% brett; very nice if you like that sort of thing.