Top 10 beers in the world press
The 1759, Guinness, Dublin, Ireland
Jim Vorel writes in Paste Magazine on this surprising limited edition offering from big brewer Guinness. He writes: “The beer pours a very dark, brick red that might very well be closer to brown. The aroma is interesting: Big malt, with a winey, vinous character of dark fruit such as raisin.
“There’s caramel and toffee sweetness, but not the smoke or spice note that I was immediately expecting. In short, the aroma is similar to what one would expect from a high-gravity amber beer.
“In terms of flavour,” Vorel continues, “the smoke comes out to play, as does a hint of peaty spice, but nothing over the top. As it warms, the smoke flavors become stronger. Everything about this would be described as “warm,” from the chewy malt to the campfire smoke.
“It’s not all that sweet (stock Guinness being bone dry, after all), which means it’s hiding its 9% ABV pretty darn well. What you’re left with is a mildly roasty, fruity, smoky ale.
“It’s actually unique enough a profile that it makes a good case for being a limited edition release, because it would presumably appeal to a very specific segment of drinkers. As for who those people are: Scotch fans, perhaps?”
9% abv amber ale
All Day IPA, Founders Brewing Co, Michigan, US
They write: “Over the past couple of decades, America has re-invented the concept of the India Pale Ale, some breweries packing so much hoppy bitterness and full-on-strength into these ales that they would be quite unrecognisable to those whose livelihoods depended on these famous old beers at the time of the Raj.
“At 4.7 per cent ABV, Founders All Day IPA draws back from that, creating a mainstream sessionable beer of moderate strength that is a little cloudy, slightly gloopy on the palate, but with lots of refreshing grapefruit, which is dry and bitter without ever becoming overpowering.
“It has a long dry finish and was the perfect foil for a great evening.”
4.7% abv IPA
Hop Hog Pale Ale, Feral Brewing Co, Baskerville, Australia
He writes: “It’s refreshing and loaded with hop flavours, which impart more than a trace of bitterness. Clean and generous taste with a refreshing follow-through. An excellent aperitif beer.”
5.8% abv pale ale
Blitzen Belgian Tripel, Steamworks, Vancouver, Canada
He writes: “The bracingly clean nose is teasingly subtle, with light notes of sourdough and fruit including pear, lemon and orange rind, along with some honey and marmalade sweetness and a gentle spicy crackle of clove and nutmeg.
“It’s effortlessly rounded in the mouth, with a flavour profile beautifully poised between fruit, spice and warm bready malt. The fruitier flavours include bright apple and pear followed by denser, slightly musty bitter orange with a grassy underlay and a lightly acidic bite from the carbonation.
“The mouthfeel comes into play in the middle, bringing out denser, richer fruit flavours along with some bubblegum and light clove. It all ties up with a gentle bitterness and semi-dry, lightly saline finish, before a lightly salty, chewy-bread and marmalade aftertaste.”
9% Belgian beer
Dark Arts Bourbon Barrel Wild Imperial Stout, Wicked Weed Brewing Co, North Carolina, US
He writes: “It smells like a brownie covered in cherry compote and chocolate syrup, a decadent beer-lovers dream. On first taste, it’s clear that there’s a simply great imperial stout under all of the other accoutrements, but combined with its barrel character and a tang of sourness, it becomes something truly unique.
“The bourbon barrels thankfully impart a restrained character that add more notes of caramel and vanilla without taking over completely. In fact,” he continues, “fruit is probably the dominant flavour component, as dark fruit flavours are enhanced and given an acidic edge by its tartness.
“Despite this, it’s also not cloyingly sweet, making it one of the more drinkable 15% abv beers that I could imagine. Although if you’re planning on consuming an entire 500 ml bottle of Dark Arts on your own, you may want to do it in the confines of your own home.”
15% Imperial Stout
Rooie Dop Double Oatmeal Stout, Brouwerij de Molen, Utrecht, Netherlands
He writes: “The 9.6% ABV stout poured a thick black, forming a creamy tan head that dissipated rather quickly. This is not unusual for a high-alcohol beer. The aroma was dominated by cocoa and roasted malt.”
He continues: “The flavour was loaded with chocolate, cocoa and roasted malt, with background notes of coffee, caramel and vanilla. An espresso-like bitterness was present throughout the tasting and the finish. It also had a slight red wine sharpness that was a nice counterpart to the sweet and bitter characteristics.
“At nearly 10% in alcohol content, it was slightly boozy, but in the background in a pleasant way. The use of flaked oats gave the stout a solid and creamy mouth feel.”
9.6% abv stout
Consilium Pale Ale, Renegade Brewing Company, Colorado, US
She writes: “After years of reviewing Colorado beer, I thought I knew what this brew would be like. It would smell heavily of orange zest, be overloaded with hops, and taste like a boozy milkshake. On first taste, though, none of these things were true.
“This brew pours out a golden orange, or what I will now call “gorange” (it wasn’t too metallic or too bright). The head is resilient, and holds up long after it’s been poured. The nose has subtle citrus notes, but these don’t overwhelm the hoppy undertones. The inclusion of lactose is most obvious in the mouthfeel, which is robust without being overwhelming.
“These well-balanced elements explain the brew’s name: “Consilium” is Latin for wisdom and judgment, both of which are exhibited in this brew. Renegade originally prepared if for their second anniversary in 2013, but has since added it to their bottling lineup. We can see why. It’s sessionable at 5% abv, hoppy without being bombastic, and flavoured without being gimmicky. It demonstrates that Renegade’s brewing program is maturing – with both wisdom and judgment.
5% American Pale Ale
Oostvleteren 12, St Amatus, De Struise Brouwers, Belgium
He writes, “St Amatus is their counterpart beer to the infamously difficult to get hold of ‘best beer in the world’ Westvleteren 12, cheekily billed as ‘Oostvleteren 12’.
“Unlike its rival from across the way, this beer is a tad more experimental: both are quadruple ales, however St Amatus has been aged in a mixture of Woodforde’s Reserve and Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels. Interesting stuff indeed.”
On the beer, he writes that it pours “a deep, almost muddy, coffee brown with a thick butterscotch head, the initial aroma is treacley, with a hint of biscotti and Bourbon vanilla. The whisky comes through only faintly, as a slight tang of apple carrying a gentle nudge of oxidation and spice.
“Initially sweet and vanilla-y, a robust cocoa body erupts with cinnamon and cinder toffee. A warming bourbon finish, resplendent with glowing alcohol and apple pie notes, finishes up with oak, fudge and nutmeg on the way out.
“Somewhat oily in texture with a gentle carbonation, this is a proper winter warmer from a fantastic Belgian brewery.”
10.5% abv quadruple ale
UFO Gingerland, Harpoon Brewery, Massachusetts, US
Alex E Weaver, in Boston’s Bostino magazine, begins his review of this beer by admitting that it was “with some trepidation” that he opened this beer, writing, “I’m a fan of bold-flavoured beers; when the predominant flavour is akin to hot apple cider, though, I feared the label might be the only thing up my alley.”
However, he continues, “What I found, though, was a winter spiced beer that had graciously showed real constraint. The flavours are there, but they’re subtle, at least for this particular category.
“It tastes like something you’d drink with warm apple pie, not the warm apple pie itself. My first inclination was it fell somewhere in between a Harpoon Winter Warmer and a Shipyard Pumpkinhead.” From the brewers:
5.2% abv spiced wheat beer
Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, Goose Island Beer Company, Illinois, US
Philip Montoro writes in The Chicago Reader on this release that was cause for excitement.
He writes that the beer is “utterly flat, probably due to the oils from the cassia bark, but none of the Bourbon County beers has much of a head – nobody at my tasting even commented on the total absence of visible bubbles here.
“A refined, almost cedar-like cinnamon dominates the aroma, fronting on inky-black roasted malts and bittersweet chocolate. This beer really blows up when you put it in your mouth: dark rye toast, coconut custard, milk chocolate, vanilla and almond from the oak, and a peppery tingle from the whiskey.
“It’s as warming as a good Bourbon without the sting of booze, and as spicy as a holiday cookie without all the sugar.
13.2% abv stout