Top 10 beers in the world press
Delicious IPA, Stone Brewing, Escondido, California, US
He writes that this beer “could theoretically be the holy grail of products for someone with gluten intolerance: A good, craft beer IPA that won’t make them sick if they drink it.
He continues, “As most people who have done much gluten-free beer drinking would attest, they’d likely just be willing to settle for “good beer,” because most gluten-free offerings leave much to be desired in the realm of taste.
“However, the gluten aspect isn’t the only area where Stone is experimenting here. Delicious IPA is a dry, West-Coast IPA that also plays with a new hop variety called Lemondrop in addition to the new-ish varieties of El Dorado and Calypso.
“The result is an intriguing citric aroma that strongly reminds me of the leaves of lemon verbena, when crushed to release the essential oils. There’s also a bright, green, grassy note and herbal qualities, and a suggestion of sweetness that marries together with the citrus to produce the impression of a stroll through the greenhouse or a handful of old-school lemon candies.”
Style: American IPA (gluten-reduced)
Frambozen, New Belgium Brewery, Fort Collins, Colorado, US
She writes, “The brew itself is a lovely ruby brown, but I’d recommend drinking it straight from the bottle as the little head you’ll find after pouring it to admire the colour will disappear more quickly than you can say “Happy Holidays.”
“You’ll smell plenty of raspberries immediately, but the taste isn’t overwhelming. Instead, you’ll get lots of fill-your-mouth malt flavours (chocolate and biscuits).
“The result is a crowd-pleasing beer. Sour fans will dig the hints of pucker in the finish. Fruit beer lovers will adore the raspberry-syrup smell. Craft beer geeks will appreciate the remix of a classic brown ale. People probably won’t fall madly in love this brew, but they will enjoy it and recommend it. It reminds me of adding a bright scarf on a trusty snowman; it perks up an old favourite.”
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 6.5 percent
Colorado Cream Ale, Station 26 Brewing Co, Denver, Colorado, US
He writes, “Station 26 opened two years ago in an old Denver fire station… Ever since, it’s become one of our favourite new breweries in town, though perhaps it should not considered “new” these days, considering the rate breweries open along the Front Range.
“The lightest of the Station 26 lineup, Colorado Cream Ale is brewed with barley from Alamosa and Cascade hops grown in Palisade. The brew is crisp and refreshing with a subtle sweetness and a light hop bite.”
Style: Cream Ale
ABV: 5.1 percent
Back Home Gingerbread Stout, Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles, California
He writes, “The bouquet of cinnamon, ginger and allspice springs from the whimsically illustrated can the moment the top is popped, and the flavours of the walnut-black brew match the aroma. A sip of the stout evokes an illicit lick of the spoon when mixing gingerbread batter — all spices and molasses and the vague cognitive dissonance of tasting a baked good in liquid form.
“Mercifully, it isn’t all baker’s spices, and there is still beer there. The full body has layers of malt flavours, from graham to toast to toffee, all underlined by smoky molasses. An earthy and woody hop character manages to peek through in the stout’s long finish.
“While Back Home Gingerbread Stout is quite sweet, it avoids being cloying, and a prickly effervescence enhances the aromatic spices and helps keep the syrupy body from overwhelming the palate.”
Summing up, he writes, “From the high notes in the first sniff to the gentle throat-warming after each swallow, the brew’s alcohol strength is obvious, and Back Home Gingerbread Stout is a winter warmer that even beer-phobic drinkers can enjoy.”
Style: Imperial Stout
Donut Whole Love Affair, River City Brewing, Jacksonville, Florida, US
She writes, “It was created as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Donut Whole, a popular shop at 1720 E. Douglas that frequently uses River City’s beers in its doughnut making, and the brewery.
“This beer was made using 100 of the Donut Whole’s donuts in the mash. The brewers then combined a couple of yeast strains during fermentation and added caramel and sea salt. They describe the finished product as a “liquid doughnut.
“It really sort of was. The beer was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. It was surprisingly sweet and felt thick on the tongue with a salty follow. The first sip made me want to send it back, but the more I tried it, the more it grew on me.
“I would try it again and give it high marks for originality. My beer snob husband, on the other hand, says he will stick with IPA.”
Style: Belgian Pale Ale / Speciality Grain
Big Sky Uncommon Lager, Whistler Brewing Company, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
He writes, “Whistler’s aptly named brew takes its cue from a faded production technique. Before the spread of refrigeration technology in the 20th century – responsible for virtually all lagers today – lagers were fermented at warm temperatures generally reserved for fuller-bodied ales.
“Mid-amber and vaguely hazy in appearance, this limited-production, seasonal offering shows a rounded, almost sweet malty character balanced not so much by familiar lager crispness as by a satisfyingly bracing, bitter edge. A fine brew for hearty burgers.”
Style: California Common / Steam lager
Russial Imperial Stout, Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, Massachusetts, US
He writes, “The good signs that start this beer are the heavy, oily pour, deep black color and thick tan head that forms. Chocolate and some roast are apparent in the aroma, with a faint plum fruitiness.
“The flavour is heavy on the chocolate malt, followed by caramel and a bit of coffee roast. The mouth feel is chewy without being cloying, and the carbonation is a bit below medium. It is medium sweet and has a semi-dry finish without any lingering bitterness.
He concludes, “Although it does not have the unpleasant vodka-like alcohol finish that some ultra-strong ales have, the 13% ABV is noticeable. This is an assertive beer that is not for the faint-hearted, and the world is better for it.”
Style: Imperial Stout
Black Fang, B. Nektar Meadery, Ferndale, Michigan, US
He writes, “It poured a purple colour with red highlights and the aroma of the blackberry and clove was immediate and inviting. Meads do not form a head and can be carbonated or still; Black Fang has a nice medium carbonation similar to what you might find in a typical cider.
“The blackberry flavour was fresh and enhanced by the sweetness from the honey. The clove flavour was intense and bordering on overkill, but it was tempered by the honey and the delicate orange that came through more in the aftertaste.
“The smooth mouth feel and medium-sweet honey ended in a slightly tart finish, with the clove and orange lingering for a bit. Black Fang, at 6% ABV, was a nice change of pace from beer.”
Santa’s Little Helper, Mikkeller Brewery, Copenhagen, Denmark
He writes, “There was surprisingly little aroma at first – a light warm, booziness, with just a slight coffee note. But to taste it’s got the buttery richness of a proper old treacle toffee, all buttery and silky.
“Then there’s a light sweetness, mellow, not at all cloying, with just a memory of the cognac in the background along with a hint of spiciness. It’s strong, but doesn’t taste the 11% strength it boasts. It’s subtle brilliance, I’d say.
“I’ve had “barrel-aged beers” that are overpoweringly flavoured by the spirit in question. They’re novelty drinks, more or less. With this, the barrel aging really makes the right kind of difference, gently lifting the Belgian-style ale into another realm.”
Style: Barrel-aged Ale
Tropicalia, Creature Comforts Brewing, Athens, Georgia, US
He writes, “This brewery, which is still months away from its first birthday, is now making the best packaged, commercially available IPA in the Peach State, and it’s known as Tropicalia.
“As the name would suggest, this IPA’s aroma explodes from the glass with tropical fruit and citrus character. It smells, for lack of a better word, “ripe,” like grapefruit and mango chunks macerating in sugar to soften and release their juices. There might be malt character in that aroma somewhere, but you’d never know, given the strength of its fruitbasket nose.
“On the palate it’s again juicy fruit, a little cloudy and unfiltered, with sweetly fruity pineapple and passionfruit flavours. Bitterness is medium, just enough to keep the beer’s overall impression as “balanced” rather than overtly sweet. I’ve implied a fair amount of sweetness here, but this IPA is truly quite drinkable – almost frighteningly so. At 6.5% ABV, it could be one that sneaks up on people who are new to craft beer.”
Style: American IPA