RJ’s top 10 beers to give as a present (or drink for yourself)
RJ Side Note: Now keep in mind that these are not my 10 most favorite beers because that list would look something like this: IPA, IPA, IPA, IPA…..you get the idea. So I have tried to pick not only a good range of beers for everyone, but also beers that should be reasonably easy to find at your local “good beer store”. Another thing to keep in mind is we are approaching the Holiday season, so this may or may not have impacted my decision when putting this list together. So without further ado, may I present to you “The Holiday Beer List”
#1 Sierra Nevada ”Pale Ale”
Let’s start out easy, shall we? This is a widely available beer. Normaly sold in bottles, this ale is not over powering , and goes down nice and smooth. Has a soft smooth amber color and a slightly spicy taste. Has a nice amber color with an average head. It finishes smooth, a little dry, faintly bitter and not too quickly. An exceptional pale ale even though it’s not like most pale ales.
#2 Rogue “Dead Guy Ale”
OK now that we have the readers out at their local supermarket buying the first one on the list, let us go with something that you will have to venture past the isles of your big box supermarket, into a store that has a bit more selection. Yeah yeah yeah, another ale, but I told you I am an ale person. This beer pours a cloudy copper with a nice creamy off white head. Nose is malty caramel, yeast, floral hops. Taste is sweet malts, earthy floral hops, with some bready notes. Palate is full body, good carbonation. Finish is sweet caramel malts balanced very well with earthy bitter hops. A very nice smooth and flavorful brew.
#3 Leinenkugel’s “Sunset Wheat”
Ok…..Ok I will venture away from the ales for you. Lets travel down the wheat road for a minute. This next one is one of the wifey’s favorite beers. It’s a traditional cloudy wheat beer. White foamy head that doesn’t last long. Taste is definitely of some blueberries, even though the “fruity pebbles” comments may be overstated some. Light and fizzy in your mouth, and easy to drink. I would recommend this for a nice “summery” beer, but I would seek it out regularly.
#4 Highlands “Oatmeal Porter”
There was that good enough for you non hop heads? No? well how about I throw a porter your way? This beer can be found in the NC/VA/GA/TN area for sure. The brewery has been growing steadily for quite some time. Highlands “Oatmeal Porter” pours a deep black color with a russet head and good lacing. Smells of roasted oats, roasted malts, chocolate malts, and some mild hop aroma. Tastes of strong roasted oatmeal, roasted malts, brown sugar, chocolate, and some toffee. Great complexity of flavor. Mouthfeel is very thick and nice. Very drinkable, not as heavy as it looks, nice brew.
#5 Stone “Arrogant Bastard Ale”
My turn! Ok time for one of my favorites, and it is not even an IPA. (notice how I have not listed one yet) but we are back on the ale wagon. Stone “Arrogant Bastard Ale” The beer pours a deep amber reddish color, with a thick white head. The smell is strong, mostly hops, kind of a piney citrus aroma. The taste is well balanced caramel and hop taste. The mouthfeel is medium and I would say this beer is drinkable, and yet one of those beers you’d want to sip.
#6 Cottonwood “Pumpkin Spiced Ale”
Now I know the season is almost over, you best act quickly on this one. But get out there and grab this years best (as rated by my wife and I) pumpkin beer. Cottonwood “Pumpkin Spiced Ale” is an ale that we simply can’t resist, especially in the months of October and November. This beer poured a bright orange color with a huge beige head that lingered. The aroma is sweet and yeasty with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and citrus. Subtle but very pleasant. The flavor is sweet and very yeasty with notes of tart citrus, caramel and faint touches of nutmeg and cinnamon. Medium finish and medium body. The spicing was far more subtle than in most pumpkin spice beers and it worked much better. Very good.
#7 Dogfish Head “90 Minute IPA”
So, you are still here reading and not rushing to the store? Ok well I guess I owe you 4 more. So I am not sure what way to go here. I guess that I did a good job waiting until #7 to break out an IPA. Let’s get down to brass tacks. This is one of my all-time favorite beers ever. This beer pours a burnt orangey copper with a nice white creamy head. Aroma of floral citrusy hops, sweet spices. Taste is floral citrusy hops with some sweet malt. Palate is full body, good carbonation, and nice smooth mouth feel. Finish is bitter floral citrus hops, but not overpowering, balanced by some sweet caramel maltiness. Overall a very nicely balanced, complex, drinkable and flavorfull brew. I would skip out on the 60 minute if there is a choice, and if you live somewhere where you can score 120 minute, careful it is a totally different brew (And message me for an address to send it to).
#8 Anderson Valley Brewing Company’ “Boont Amber Ale”
So you say you were looking for a brown ale. Deal! Here is one that I think you will find pleasing to you, this one is my favorite brown ale out there. The wifey even likes this one. This beer pours cloudy copper with nice off white head. Aroma of earthy hops, sweet malts and caramel. Taste is same as aroma. Palate is medium body with good carbonation, crisp. Nice caramel nutty finish with a good amount of bittering hops but not to overwhelming. Overall a nice robust and drinkable amber ale.
#9 Duck Rabbit “Milk Stout”
Ok next up lets go with a stout, is that OK with you? North Carolina brings you another delicious addition to the list. and a thoroughly enjoyable beer. The dark color, almost like an untainted cup of freshly brewed coffee, was very appealing. It poured about a two finger wide head that had a toffee-ish hue to it. The aroma was strong with a roasted coffee smell. On first taste it was a blast of flavors. You definitely get the coffee flavor at first, followed by a rich caramel, and ending with a slightly bitter semi-sweet dark chocolate. Throughout the whole experience, the beer had a medium body with decent carbonation to it. I definitely recommend this stout.
#10 Bud Light
And finally but certainly not least my #10 on this particular list: Bud Light.
Hahaha Ok I am joking I told you I would bring you some good beers, and I will not let you down with tainted water.
The Real #10: Breckenridge Brewery “Small Batch 471 IPA”
So last on the list I am afraid that I have to retract back to my #1 favorite beer of all time….that is saying something. This is a classic double IPA is chill-hazed coppery/orange, with a short head of white foam. Aroma-Fruity, subtle hop note. Taste-Tangerine/orange fruitiness, malt sweetness, underlying but not overly harsh hop bitterness. Decently balanced and pretty drinkable with the alcohol well hidden. Overall, a phenomenal, and affordable DIPA.
Ok boys and girls. Get your butt to the store and go buy your good friends and family some good beers for the holidays.