A recent post by the yellow dog (ah, do we capitalize or not? the topoi of formal names vs. persona, Dylan vs. dylan, Thomas vs. tom, but I guess I’m free-associating now, hmmmm) made an off-hand comment about the metaphorical top ten list of beer. I am pretty diligent about posting my beer tasting on Rate Beer.com (recent pleasurable find: Alameda Black Bear Stout), but like the yellow dog I don’t know how my ratings hold up in the long run. I taste, I note, I comment, I rate, and then I drink some more, go searching for more, the pleasure of finding the new beer. I’m not sure the notes are more than having noted that I tasted the beer. But what about that metaphorical top ten? What would it be? Would it be the BEST beer? Would it be the beer we most want in a given situation? Would it be a ratio between quality and price (which incidentally is one place I draw the line for that vague “overall quality” category on rate beer: is it worth the price? I mean I had a great experience with Rogue Brewery’s Imperial IPA, a fabulous beer that was the nightcap to a great trip to the west coast, but when I saw the price of it per bottle, it didn’t seem so great. Context, I suppose, is everything). So, knowing that such a list will change probably by the time I finish the list in the first place, here is my current top ten. Do remember, I’m not claiming these are the best, but the ones I most want to drink at the moment:
10. Summit Pale Ale. OK, I’ve written about this before. I acknowledge it’s not the most outrageous beer. But it is an incredibly well-balanced beer and this one gets the nod for sentimentality as well as quality–it’s the combination, a very good beer that also serves my memory well. I can pretty much drink it any time and be happy. What else do you really want from a beer?
9. Bell’s Hopslam. My tastes start to show through here: incredibly rich, luscious hops that just can’t be beat here. It’s not available all year (and not at all here in Iowa) so drink it while and where you can.
8. Surly Furious. Yes, I’m new to the Surly bandwagon, but I’m hooked. This, too, I have to travel to find, but fortunately Minnesota is one of those places I love to travel (or that friends will bring me beer from–thanks to the Koeods for the beer extravaganza in Austin, MN–and the Spam museum–but that’s another story). Like Hopslam, this is all about the hops. Yummmm…..
7. Lagunitas IPA/Maximus. Both of these are great versions of what has become one of my favorite breweries. I suppose I’m repeating myself, but can you say hops? If not, this probably isn’t the list for you.
6. North Coast Brother Thelonius. A west coast Abbey style ale that I find really well balanced and rich and creamy and tasty and I want another one as I’m typing this.
5. Saint Bernardus Abt 12. I know there is an immense number of great Belgian beers, all with a unique flavor and yeastiness, but this one really hits the spot on almost any occasion. I vote for this one for its sheer versatility as well as its quality. A great, great beer.
4. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. Yes, there are a number of amazing dogfish head beers. But for my general drinking days, I’ll go with the 60 minute. It’s everything I want in a beer, really.
3. Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye. I suppose any beer with hop in the name is bound to appeal to me. But add that tang of rye in there and it’s something special.
2. Stone Arrogant Bastard. An incredibly dense and layered and complex strong ale. “You are not worthy” the label says, but I am, I am, I am. Pour me another you bastard.
1. Pliny the Elder. Double IPA. Nothing like it. It’s all things beer that I love. It is the best. Sure, my list may well change tomorrow, but I’m not sure this one will.
My honorable mention list would just go on and on. I start listing beers and all I can really think is all the fine beers that won’t make the list. How can I? How can I? Oh, but such is the nature of the list.Yes, such lists are ridiculous in the end. Argue with me and disagree, in the end, the point, as with my many musical lists on this blog, is to keep searching out the good stuff and enjoying. Here is to the hop!