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With all due respect to the home brewers we need a commercial beer thread.  

 

What are you drinking? What do you like, what don't you like? What can't you find in your area that you want?  And how the hell do I smuggle Russian River Pliney the Elder into Texas without traveling to California?

If you use the fun Untappd app (iOS and Android versions available) to log your beer fetish please add me as a friend.  I'm CampM.

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First, I'll tell you what I don't like. IPA, I'm sooooo over this genre. It's so overexposed, it's played out, it's a dead horse beaten to a pulp, revivified and then blended into a viscous liquid. Over, done, no more. I once enjoyed IPAs but now I can barely stand them.

 

I have a good friend who owns a rising micro-brewery in San Francisco called "Almanac." We were talking a few weeks ago about their upcoming projects (they are rather adventurous having done Saisons, Gose, and a variety of Sours). He mentioned a few new things they had worked on, and then he gave me a look I can only describe as one of defeat and said "oh, and an IPA" - I was like "okay" and he said they just sell, and people keep asking for it. He said they did it just to get it out of the way. IPAs have become the Lager of craft beers. I lay the blame squarely on Sierra Nevada. And yeah, Pliny is one of those, ahem, IPAs, I first had that at a bar in SF like 10 years ago, and it was all the rage. It has attained something of a cult status here as well. I don't get it.

 

OK, so with that out of the way, there is so much happening in beer now, it's crazy and awesome.

 

First of all, I've been on a huge sour kick for over 4 years. They have reached a popularity now that they are easier to find. A few years ago, I could only find a sour in a couple of local specialty pubs. The first kind I ever had was the Flanders Red variety, which still remains my favorite. The Gueze kind can also be delicious, but I love the vinous quality of reds.

To that end, the very best I have had is Rodenbach's 2011 Vintage Grand Cru (note: this is not the standard Rodenbach that BevMo has), but at $20 a (750ml) bottle it's not a daily beer. A close second to that is Duchesse De Bourgogne, which is similar to the Rodenbach Vintage, if not quite as filled out with caramel undertones. But The Duchesse is "only" $12.50 (750ml).

 

Another excellent sour I've had recently is from New Belgium, La Folie, a really wonderful roasty-yet-tart flavor. Oklahoma's Prairie Artisan Ales makes an outstanding pair of sours, but the best of them is called Funky Gold Mosaic, it combines the tart-sour combination with a floral quality and even a slight passionfruit sweetness (the other one they make is called "Puncheon"). Unfortunately, after discovering FGM at Oakland's Trappist Pub, I only found it for sale at my local beer shop once. I went back to get more and they were gone, and so far hasn't returned.

 

Other sours of note: Strubbes (cherry-like sweet), Panil Barriquée (dry ultra tart), Oro De Calabaza (also tart, with a bit of dry fruit flavor), Supplication (incredibly rich, deep dark sour cherry flavor).

For daily drinking, my beer of this summer has been "Snapshot" wheat from New Belgium.

EDIT: added urls

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I'm a rube when it comes to drinking bear.  I likes what I likes.  I live in Lexington, KY.  That will inform a lot of my beer drinking strangely enough.  The only place for me to obtain "exotic" beers is our local Liquor Barns and some place called Beer Trappe.

 

Just because this is my regular rotation doesn't mean these are the only beers I like.

 

Yuenling - This is my favorite mass produced domestic product.  I have a strange addiction to it.  My only way of obtaining this golden elixir is crossing the Ohio River and into Cincinnati.

Coors Original - It's rare to find another individual that not only drinks this beyond Coors Light, but enjoys it as well.

Samuel Adam's Boston Lager - Probably the baseline for mass produced beers.  I like it in spite of not being great.

Amstel Bright - You read that right.  This beer I think is only available in the Carribean.  I don't know what it is.  May be it's the hot weather and sandy beaches, but this is the most refreshing beer I've ever had.

Young's Double Chocolate Stout - Just delicious.

Samuel Adam's Octoberfest - I love Octoberfest beers.  Lots of companies make good Octoberfests, but I love this one.  One of my favorites of all time.  For some reasons beer snobs think this particular beer is ok, yet those same people will buy cases of this.  I like the offerings from Hoffbrau as well.

Dogfish 60 Minute IPA - I love IPA's, and they're my favorite to spicy hotwings.  I prefer this one to the 90 min.

Magic Hat #9 - Another pale ale I like.  Great with wings too.

Guinness - Irish swamp water at its finest.  I love it.

Fat Tire - This was pretty good, although I didn't like having to cross another state line into Indiana into a shady gas station that sells Barely Legal Magazine on its racks still.  I ain't saying Barely Legal is bad, just saying you've got to be a pretty shady gas station to sell one.

Devil Dancer - Made the mistake of drinking all four very quickly.  Knocked me on my ass.

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale - This is so different on tap.  I love bourbon and beer, and this one is a decent tasting combo.

Gumball Head - Not bad, but does get a lot of praise I don't get.

Robert The Bruce Scottish Ale - Not bad either.

 

Those are some of the ones I can think off the top of my head.  Lots and lots I'm missing out on commenting on.  Looking forward to seeing this thread grow.

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First, I'll tell you what I don't like. IPA, I'm sooooo over this genre. It's so overexposed, it's played out, it's a dead horse beaten to a pulp, revivified and then blended into a viscous liquid. Over, done, no more. I once enjoyed IPAs but now I can barely stand them.

I'm the exact opposite.  I love IPA's.  It's my comfort food.

 

On a strangely related note, I've haven't had a drink in six weeks.

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I have a feeling that this is going to get super regional, but that's OK.  Always good to know what you can find in other areas when you travel.  Let's see, in my fridge now:

 

-Waterloo Dark: A great dark ale that doesn't taste as heavy as a Guinness (which is not a beer for anything but draft).  Probably the best thing Brick makes, although the Conner's Bitter was good (discontinued and I have yet to find a substitute), and Red Baron (blonde) is also a staple for a "yellow" beer in my stock.

-Labatt 50: The beer of Engineers and old French Canadians.  Mass produced, but still great!

-Maudite: I usually keep some Unibroue around, and this is my go to.  Fin du Monde is also good, as is Trois Pistoles.  Strong stuff.

-Innis & Gunn Original: I discovered this stuff a few years back and it's awesome.  A scottish cask beer where they age in Whiskey barrels, so you get some other unique flavours in the beer.  The original is still the best, but there are other varieties out there that do things with different woods.  There's even been a special Canada Day issue (since apparently they sell a lot of beer here). 

-Sleeman original Draught: One of the "utility" beers that I keep around, for when you just need a regular yellow beer. 

-Black Oak nut brown ale: Another one on the darker side of things.  I think this one is pretty local to the Toronto area though, but it's a little similar to the Amsterdam Nut Brown (yes, another Toronto micro, but a little wider distribution).

-Ginja Ninja: Beer...with ginger!  My wife picked this one up, both because she likes ginger, and because it has a cool name.  It's not bad, but nothing to write home about.

 

I think that's about it right now.  We don't actually go through that much beer at home on our own (a couple a week maybe), but when we have people over for pinball, the beer fridge tends to end up more empty than when it started.  I tend to go for darker stuff these days.  I used to really like Keith's IPA back when it was a "new" thing in the late 90s (at least in Ontario), but it got overexposed quickly.  Still OK from time to time.  I've also liked most of the Belgian stuff I've had (Leffe especailly), but that also got really popular to the point that it showed up on draft in a LOT of places (where before we'd have to go out of our way to find it).  Not a big fan of wheat and weiss beers though-anything where you have to add citrus to it probably won't be my thing.

 

We're into Bock season now, aren't we?  I should go check to see what the LCBO (Government Liquor Stores in Ontario) has.  Usually Creemore has a good seasonal this time of year.  The Sam Adams one is OK (actually, I've liked most of their beers that I've had when in the states).

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Another excellent sour I've had recently is from New Belgium, La Folie, a really wonderful roasty-yet-tart flavor.

 

Really liked that one.  Another sour I liked, and I'll have to look through my Untapped to make sure, was Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge.  That was delicious on tap.

 

I think the Guadalupe Brewing Company Texas Honey is my current favorite beer.  Love that one.

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Took a couple of beer shots tonight. First is a 4-pack I finished this week (sads) of Dogfish Head Pumpkin. Last year I resisted buying it, probably because I was fixated on sours as usual. I finally caved at the end of fall and loved it, but it was gone for the season. So I wasted no time when I saw it this year. It has a really nice pumpkin flavor that's NOT like eating pie filling. I drank this one last night. Won't be my last of the season THIS year ;-)

 

Beer-DogfishHeadPumpkin.jpg

 

 

The second is a local, Almanac's Dark Pumpkin Sour which is truly phenomenal. I'm still drinking this bottle, so it's fresh in my memory. What's amazing about this beer is how it fuses the two main kinds of sours; the reds which taste a bit like something between balsamic vinegar and wine, and the sours that are pucker-inducing, very acidic and sharply sour. By blending these varieties, you get something like what sour candy can be like, a sweet but still acidic sour. And under all of that are hints of caramelized pumpkin (seriously!). One of my favorite beers right now, but too expensive to enjoy regularly ($11/ 375ml). On the other hand, it is a sipping beer, every taste is a party.

 

Beer-Almanac-DarkPumpkinSour.jpg

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Really liked that one.  Another sour I liked, and I'll have to look through my Untapped to make sure, was Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge.  That was delicious on tap.

 

I think the Guadalupe Brewing Company Texas Honey is my current favorite beer.  Love that one.

I've had that Jacobins, it's very good, in the same vein as the Duchesse De Bourgogne, being a red sour.

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Nice thread idea

 

I personally prefer lagers to most anything and I've been on an import kick for a few years now. Most of these are easy to find/get in the UK in any store but, a few are online orders (marked)...

 

Lagers I like:

Paulaner (German) - Regular brew is great but, the Christmas brew is one of the best beers I've ever had. It has a heavier almost "spiced" flavor to it without coming across as too heavy or fruity; great year round *online order

Erdinger (German) - Blonde or Dark is a fantastic "earthy" lager that's not too heavy or too light; great year round.

Bruge Zot (Belgian) - Blonde or Dark is a great lager that's somewhere between "crisp and earthy"; great year round *online order

Jupiler (Belgian) - Blonde that's a nice clean and crisp lager that's perfect in the afternoon or with light food *online order

Banana Bread Beer (UK) - Absolutely tastes like bananna bread and is as awesome as you could imagine :) it's closer to an ale than a lager though. It's kind of a "heavy" drink but, it's great in the winter.

Carlsberg (UK) - A nice "crisp" lager and not too heavy so great in the summer.

 

As far as US beers I can get over here that I like:

Samuel Adam's Boston Lager

Samuel Adam's Octoberfest

 

To be blunt though, I'd never pick a Sam Adams over any of the German or other lagers if I could choose.

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Ed, you need to get on Untappd. It would make adding all your fantastic suggestions to my "wishlist" easier. :)

 

Really, your beer recommendations are timely as I have been wanting to dive into sours for quite some time now. I just haven't trusted a bartender enough to make the leap. Now I'm armed with some ideas and, luckily, Prairie Artisan is a fairly easy brewer to find here in Dallas.  I will make a couple purchases this weekend and report on my education.

 

I sort of get your (and some part of the industry's) disdain for the IPA explosion.  It has seemingly been overdone.  I, however, just discovered that I am a major hop head about 6 months ago.  I always avoided IPA's because of some unique physical reactions.  After one IPA I would get flushed, begin itching and, occasionally, get an almost hallucinatory effect.  I assumed it was an allergy or something.  Weird, I know.

 

Anyway, something changed over the past year. I slowly started drinking the occasional mild IPA and, over time, all that weirdness stopped.  Now I can't stop.  I don't just like IPA's, I seek them out.  I enjoy double IPA's with IBU ratings that are off the charts.  I'd probably eat raw hops if left unattended.

 

I also enjoy Belgians quite a bit.  These are an occasional treat as a good Belgian (anything from Unibroue) is almost  otherworldly.  

 

My issue is managing calories with quality beer.  It's a very real challenge.  A top double IPA like Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum is 312 calories per 12oz bottle.  Most Belgians begin around 300 calories.  I've had beers in the 370 calorie range for a single serving.  I work out every day but I'm not able to enjoy these top flight beers nearly as often as I would like for fear of losing fitness gains.

 

So, my recent crusade has been finding lower calorie "session" beers that are high on quality.  My quality requirement pretty much leaves out popular "light" beers.  No Bud Light's or Mich Ultras for me. I'd rather get fat. I've found that there are very few "good" beers below 150 calories.  It's an alcohol content thing.  At 5% alcohol you can pretty much expect a 140 to 150 calorie beer.  It's not easy making a 150 calorie high-quality beer that can compete with offerings in the 200-300 calorie range.

 

I've discovered a few favorites so far.  Founders (out of Michigan) makes a great session IPA called the All Day IPA. Kansas City's Boulevard is a hit or miss brewer for me but their Pop-Up IPA is a pretty amazing beer.  It's an amazingly low 130 calories that is seriously worthwhile.  I recently discovered an Austin-based brewer called Hops & Grain who have a couple offerings in this category.  My favorite is a strait lager called The One They Call Zoe.  It's 150 calories of what Budweiser wishes they could be.  Also good is their Pale Dog pale ale (though at a higher calorie count).

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I'm on untappd as "rustyjaw" - great app!

 

I can't deny the appeal of a good IPA, especially when you've not had the pleasure of rampaging through the style with abandon. But I have had my fill.

 

Sours are dangerous because they are expensive. They are expensive mainly because of how long they take to make. A good Flanders red sour is usually a blend of two aged beers, the older of which is at least 12 months. Duchesse, for example is a blend of 8-month and 18-month beers aged in oak barrels.

 

But perhaps that can work to your advantage since you need to watch the calories. They are slow-drinking beers (to me) because the flavors are so intense and complex. A good Flanders red gets better as it gets closer to room temp. Although honestly I can easily drink a full 750ml of Duchesse on my own in the course of 90minutes. Lol.

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So I'm using untappd and I realize that when you check-in a beer, it's indicating that you just drank it. I like that idea, but is there a way to add beers to your list without indicating that you are drinking then at that moment?

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reading this thread makes me miss the USA..... here in Europe(well in spain more so) there's a total lack of a microbrew culture.... slowly but surely happening but damn I miss my Rogue.

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And how the hell do I smuggle Russian River Pliney the Elder into Texas without traveling to California?

 

Hah, to take a shot at the title, you brew it yourself.  There are some clone recipes out there that are pretty darn close from what I've heard.

 

But anyway, I have a good list that I want to type up and no time right now, be back later.

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Currently on a kriek lambic kick.

Which kind? Once I discovered that some of the big names (Lindemans) add sugar to their beers to get them sweet, I started to shy away from them.

 

BTW, Lambics are the gateway drug to sours. They are closely related yeast families.

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I love lagers and Pilsners, like Pisner Urquell, Radeberger, and the like. Not into IPAs at all, and here in NYC 90% of the taps are IPAs and the lager/pilsner is usually Stella, which I also don't like. So annoying. Luckily the store near me sells a 6-pack of 16 oz Radebergers for only $8.99.

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So I'm using untappd and I realize that when you check-in a beer, it's indicating that you just drank it. I like that idea, but is there a way to add beers to your list without indicating that you are drinking then at that moment? 

 

As far as I know there are only 2 lists available.  What you drank and your wishlist. 

I guess you could just add it to your "drank" list and just hope someone doesn't think you drank everything at once.  :)  I think it's OK to use it as a database to track your beers.  That's what I see it as.

 

 

 

reading this thread makes me miss the USA..... here in Europe(well in spain more so) there's a total lack of a microbrew culture.... slowly but surely happening but damn I miss my Rogue.

 

Yeah, the US is really the hotbed of the beer world right now.  There is hope on the horizon for Europe though. Stone Brewery out of California is opening a brewery in Germany specifically to target the European market.  The invasion is beginning. 

 

 

 

Hah, to take a shot at the title, you brew it yourself.  There are some clone recipes out there that are pretty darn close from what I've heard.

 

Nice. But it would probably be cheaper to drive to CA to buy a few cases and return to Dallas. :)

 

 

 

Currently on a kriek lambic kick.

 

Help me out with the Lambic thing as it's another genre I haven't explored.

Aren't many lambics sours but certainly not all sours are lambics, right?  I thought lambics were a style of beer (something to do with a different fermentation?) but sours are categorized by flavor even though they can span many styles.  Is that about right?

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Hah, to take a shot at the title, you brew it yourself.  There are some clone recipes out there that are pretty darn close from what I've heard.

 

Nice. But it would probably be cheaper to drive to CA to buy a few cases and return to Dallas.  :)

Make sure to get my order before you do.

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I'm unfamiliar with sours as well actually - is that a variation on a bitter or stout or more of a flavored lager? Something else entirely?

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