I'm not convinced that porters get enough respect. They're often passed over at the bar by the hop heads and the sour crowd. They're not as sought-after as many higher-octane American stouts or their Russian imperial cousins. But why? Porters are complex and roasty, filled with chocolate and coffee flavors, yet most still manage to be sessionable. They're damn-near perfect when it's cold outside, and you'd be hard pressed to find a better beer with a meal.
'Serious Beer' on Serious Eats
Of the 17 American-brewed Saisons we tried, some were malt-focused, others spiced, some herbed, funked, hopped up, and some were all of the above. The best Saisons we tried were dry, highly carbonated, and had a balanced bitterness.
Bières de garde were traditionally brewed in the winter and spring, and made strong enough to cellar for drinking during the summer. Bières de garde often have an earthy mustiness that comes from indigenous yeasts in storage barrels. We tasted 15 different bières de garde from the US and France and judged them based on aroma, flavor, and overall drinkability.
Our team of hale ale tasters gathered an array of beers brewed in the beautiful American Pale Ale style in order to pick a favorite. With their caramel backbone and piney, citrus-hop freshness, there were more definitely more winners than disappointments.
There are few beers as substantial—and full of such deep, complex flavors and aromas—as Belgian Dark Strong Ales. These beers aren't to be approached lightly. The first sip demands your full attention, though subsequent sips may cause you to lose your train of thought completely.
These strong, high-gravity ales can be found across a dynamic range of depths and flavors, all a little daunting and intense in their own ways. Bittersweet, sometimes syrupy barleywines aren't for everyone, but a taste here and there can greatly expand your preconceived notions of beer. Here are a few tasting notes from my recent explorations of the style.
The best way to a beer lover's heart might be through a rare, delicious brew, but here are a few other gift ideas for lager lovers and ale aficionados. Be sure to watch shipping dates and order any online gifts soon!
Among my fellow beer nerds, it's not the need for long sleeves that makes it autumn. It's not the burnished leaves or the candy corn. The real reason to be excited for the coming of fall is the arrival of autumn seasonal beers. Here's a sampler of this year's pumpkin brews.
I set out this year to try some of America's best märzens. These beers are just the ticket for getting you into a fall mood. They're rich and crisp, reminiscent of cool fall breezes and rustling autumn leaves. Check out our recommendations—but also keep in mind that freshness is king. If your local brewery makes a märzen, check it out now. If they've got one on tap, order a steinful straightaway.
I've been a fan of Surly Brewing Co. ever since my friend Lee of Hoptopia gave me one of his precious cans of Furious, an intensely brisk IPA with some rich Scottish malt thrown into the mix. (Thanks, Lee.) Who's behind this awesome Minnesota beer? A rock star. Literally.
If you haven't tasted a traditional Kriek or Framboise before, you're in for a surprise. They're funky and acidic, with hints of shoe leather and wet dog. These days, you'll frequently see fruit beers with added sweeteners and fruit juices—lots of folks love them, but we encourage you to try the real thing sometime. Traditionally sour fruit lambics may not be beers for beginners, but they're a palate-expanding experience we highly recommend.
While we're not really all that interested in who can make the sourest beer imaginable, we're thrilled at all the great, creative fruit beers coming out of American breweries. Some of these delectable examples are juicy, zippy, and full of real fruit flavor; others are funky and horsey, quite challenging for the beginner—and sometimes thrilling to the nerdiest among us. These aren't beers for chugging in front of a game; they're complex sips that demand your full attention. We consider ourselves very lucky to have gotten a taste.
Hefeweizen is a wheat beer, but for lovers of serious beer, what makes it exciting is the yeast. (Hefe actually means yeast in German, so this shouldn't be a huge surprise.) The special ale yeasts that are used to make traditional German Hefeweizen produce crazy flavors and aromas during fermentation—you can taste cloves and banana, spice and smoke, even traces of vanilla and bubblegum.
There's some great brewing going on in states like Michigan and Ohio, Wisconsin and Nebraska. This week, we gathered a sample of IPAs from the Midwest to review, and a few of them are truly top tier.
Ever wonder who decides what beers go on the menu at your favorite restaurant or watering hole? We did too, and then we met David Flaherty and found out all about it. (We also found out about his first time...drinking craft beer, that is.)
Greg Hall of Goose Island Beer Company makes beers that are delicious on their own and even more brilliant with food. We caught up with him to chat about his exciting new sour beer releases, his favorite beer-and-food pairings, and his thoughts on where craft beer is heading.
Many consider Colorado to be the epicenter of the craft brewing scene. There are over a hundred craft breweries in the state, and it's the home of the Brewers Association and the Great American Beer Festival. So even though we could only get our hands on fifteen examples, we weren't surprised to taste some truly awesome IPAs from the Centennial State. Check out our reviews and let us know your favorites!
If you live in the New York area, you may have spotted Captain Lawrence beers on tap at restaurants around town. We highly recommend you give them a try—next thing you know it, you may find yourself on the Metro-North train at an ungodly hour making your way the brewery for a special limited-edition beer release. We caught up with Captain Lawrence's owner and head brewer Scott Vaccaro for the latest in our brewmaster interview series.