POPSUGAR Food

22 Cold Ones Worth Cracking Open This Afternoon

Apr 2 2013 - 11:13am

Last month we celebrated an unofficial — but hardly insignificant — food holiday: beer month. In its honor (and, OK, partially just for fun) we sipped our way through a legion of frothy brews, buffed up on brewing knowledge [1], and added a splash (or more) to our favorite dishes [2]. In the process we discovered — and revisited — a variety of brews ranging from bold and boisterous to crisp and refreshing; click through for our top picks, and share yours in the comments.

— Additional reporting by Anna Monette Roberts

2012 Goose Island Matilda Belgian Style Ale

Goose Island's Matilda [3] is creamy, sturdy, pleasantly bitter, and an easy sipper, making it a staple of POPSUGAR happy hours. Likewise, we'd suggest it as a solid choice for bringing to a party as it appeals to a large variety of palates.

Russian River Sanctification

If you've never tried a fermented sour beer before, then salty, saline Russian River Sanctification [4] is worth trying. The golden ale is fermented with brettanomyces, a yeast that gives the beer a mouth-puckering, sour flavor. There's not a hint of sweetness in this bottle. Those who drink kombucha or apple cider vinegar will appreciate it, and we think it would be best paired with something fatty like grilled cheese or sausage.

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

For those unfamiliar with IPAs, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA [5] is a great India Pale Ale to start with, since it's creamy, mellow, and spicy like black pepper rather than bitter like grapefruit. We found this IPA to be less carbonated than the others, which some may find more desirable in a beer.

Czechvar

While Czechvar [6] is referred to as Budweiser in its homeland [7], don't mistake it for Anheuser-Busch's light-bodied classic American brew. Hoppy, bitter, and heavier than a typical beer of this style, our food team collectively swooned at our first sip of the Czech import and enjoyed it even more when it was paired with a nibble of salty beer-infused cheddar cheese.

Almanac Beer Co. Farmer's Reserve No. 1

Barrel-aged and bolstered with unusual additions including plums and cabernet, muscat, and concord grapes, Almanac's Farmer's Reserve No. 1 [8] is unlike any beer we've ever tried both in terms of its production and its flavor. We'll be sipping this sour stunner on park picnics and pairing it with cheese and charcuterie plates as its berry nose, fermented funk, and prominent oak and grape flavors make it exceptionally food-friendly.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

We were hardly shocked to find this "extra IPA" to be intensely bitter, though that hardly put off our palates. Sharp but light-bodied and smooth, this IPA from Sierra Nevada [9] doesn't mess around, in a good — nay, great way.

Trumer Pils

Our day-drinking-friendly, picnic pick of the bunch, Trumer Pils [10] hits a perfect balance of crisp and malty and has a lingering, pleasant bitter finish. We'll be enjoying a bottle throughout the balmy Spring and Summer seasons.

Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Fruity, bittersweet, and light-bodied, Deschutes Brewery's Mirror Pond Pale Ale [11] is an approachable yet intriguing crowd-pleaser. Even better, it and the brewery's other plethora of brews have homebrew recipes [12] listed on the website, a boon to beer-brewing enthusiasts.

Guinness Draught

Worried that stouts are thick and bitter like sludgy tar? Fear not! Guinness Draught [13] is nothing of the sort. We found it to be lighter in body and finish than the standard stout. Hints of coffee, toasted nuts, and soy sauce fill the bottle, followed by a deep, smooth finish.

He'Brew Hop Manna IPA

Kitschy name aside, Schmaltz Brewing Company's beers mean business — the delightfully floral Hop Manna IPA [14] even took home a gold medal at the World Beer Championships. While this brew has many positive attributes, we most appreciated how drinkable it is while maintaining a complex bitter finish typical of the style.

Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Brew

At first whiff of this Japanese ginger-infused brew [15], a heavy soy-sauce-like aroma is unmistakeable. This savory quality holds up on first sip, though it surprised us with a lighter body and subtle ginger flavor, which would pair well with Asian cuisine, particularly sushi.

Deschutes Brewery Red Chair NWPA

Named for a ski lift at Oregon's Mt. Bachelor mountain [16] — hence the red chair reference and imagery — this pale ale is perfectly suited to snuggling up with after a day shredding through clouds of fresh powder. Bitter, dry, and with a pleasantly sweet aftertaste, it's worth snapping up a bottle (or two) before its limited-run Winter season comes to a close.

Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer

A bit earthier, less fizzy, and spicier than nonalcoholic ginger beer, Crabbie's [17] is otherwise a near-perfect analogue to the refreshing soda and could be subbed for that 1:1 in cocktails. We'll be trying it in a dark and stormy [18], as well as sipping it over ice with a squeeze of lime for a lighter option.

Firestone Pale Ale

While we try not to judge a book beer by its cover (or label rather), we'll admit to initially having been enticed by Firestone Pale Ale's [19] eye-catching graphic design and branding. Thankfully, in this case eating with our eyes first was a good call; its fragrant, fruity, and bitter flavor profile kept us coming back for sip after sip.

Hoegaarden

We couldn't think of a greater beer to drink during the Summer than Hoegaarden [20], till then we'll let it mentally transport us to warmer days. The thick froth and clovey, orange-blossomy scent had us salivating before we took our first sip. The witbier is so crisp and light, we're apt to think even beer naysayers couldn't resist a bottle.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

With virtually no bitterness to be found, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA [21] must be the sweetest, smoothest IPA we've tried thus far. It's like a chocolate croissant in beer form.

St. Bernardus Wit Belgian Abbey Ale

Slightly cloudy, nutty, spicy, crisp, and exceptionally wheat-forward, this Belgian ale is just the sort of beverage we'd like to leisurely enjoy on a mellow night out or in.

Lagunitas New DogTown Pale Ale

Coriander, bell pepper, and grapefruit peel are some of the strong flavors we picked up while sipping on Lagunitas New DogTown Pale Ale [22]. This is a bitter beer for sure, but the bright grapefruit-like finish made us want to keep drinking.

Anchor California Lager

We're admittedly partial to anything local favorite Anchor Brewing brews up, but bias aside, this robust lager [23] is an excellent option for those looking to branch out into heavier styles of beer, like IPAs. Prominent notes of toasted hops invite on first whiff, giving way to a flavor that's a hair more bitter than the typical lager, ending with a crisp and refreshing finish.

Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder [24] and its elusive sister-brew Pliny the Younger are practically cult favorites amongst beer aficionados, and for good reason. Crack a bottle open, and a grassy-green, hop-forward aroma wafts out, followed by notes of orange zest and clove for a complex perfume; take a sip, and those flavors linger on the palate, with a bitter, almost tannic finish. While lovely sipped without food, we're even more eager to pair it with a rich and meaty dish like Cuban mojo pork [25] or a platter of assorted charcuterie.

Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René

Sour-beer fans, listen up: Lindemans' gueuze [26] — a traditional style of Belgian lambic that's twice fermented, resulting in a tart Champagne-like flavor — is just the ticket. While this unusual varietal might not be for everyone — we had a few in our group of tasters who found it too acidic — those who enjoyed it were very much on board, touting its similarity to hard cider or a crisp white wine as positives.

Eel River I.P.A.

Notably the first beer to be brewed with organic malts and hops, Eel River's I.P.A. [27] won us over with a sophisticated and complex assortment of flavors. Floral on the nose, dark, nutty, and heavy-bodied on first sip, with a crisp distinctive finish that lingers, this beer might sound like it has too much going on, but trust us, it doesn't. It even became a fast favorite amongst this roundup of winning brews.


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http://www.yumsugar.com/food/Best-Beers-March-2013-28968846