I’ll admit that Esquire isn’t generally considered the go-to source for brew news, but loyal reader Smiley Brown sent us a nice little list from the esteemed men’s style magazine which discusses this year’s most anticipated beers. Take a look if you have a moment. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on their selections:
1. Stone Old Guardian Belgo Barley Wine: Stone is adding the “Belgo” descriptor to a bunch of their beers this year. Actually, their intent was to release Belgo versions of some of their more popular offerings (like their Russian Imperial Stout) in odd years (2011, 2013, etc.) and then release the “normal” versions during even years. The Belgo offerings, as the Esquire article notes, simply have traditional Belgian yeast strains added to give the beers a funkier, horseblanket aroma and flavor. Naturally, proponents of Stone’s standard line-up were up in arms about this plan and Stone caved in and will be offering both versions of their beers. Regardless, the Old Guardian is a rock-solid barleywine so color me intrigued about a Belgified version. Though, in the interest of full disclosure, I generally believe that most beers could be improved with some Belgian farmhouse funk.
2. Captain Lawrence 5 Years Later Ale: There are about a thousand trips that I wish I could have made with Magnus before his departure. But if wishes were Russian Imperial Stouts, I’d be in a coma. One of those trips was to the Captain Lawrence brewery which Magnus always talked about planning a visit to. He loved Scott Vaccaro’s beers and talked them up every chance he could get. Their “deep, dark, and hoppy” 5 Years Later Ale sounds like the kind of brew worth heading to Pleasantville, NY to sample.
3. New Belgium Le Terroir: While the Aleheads aren’t huge Fat Tire fans, we do love New Belgium’s more experimental offerings. I was able to tuck into a couple bottles of last year’s La Folie, a delicious Belgian sour aged in French oak barrels. That brew, like Le Terroir, was part of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series. Unlike it’s frère, Le Terroir is dry-hopped in addition to being barrel-aged. Dry-hopping, unlike dry-humping, is never a bad thing.
5. Cambridge/Stone/Victory Collaboration: Don’t know the name of this one, but it’s apparently the first all-female craft-beer collaboration. The brewers’ bonafides are certainly legit…Stone and Victory are two of the most popular ale factories in the US and the lesser-known, MA-based Cambridge Brewing Company makes some outstanding brews. I’m not sure why it should matter that this is an all-girl group since I’m fairly certain that men don’t have any innate edge when it comes to boiling sugar water and adding fungus to it. Still, it would be nice to see more female brewmasters in the craft beer world so I’m absolutely looking forward to this brew. I just hope they “man up” before they brew this beer and leave their purses, skirts, and lower back tattoos at home. Because the Miller company obviously thinks beers with flavor are solely the domain of people with testicles.
6. Trader Joe’s Mission St. 2011 Anniversary Ale: Other Aleheads may have known this, but I certainly didn’t…Trader Joe’s proprietary brews are actually made by the highly-regarded Firestone Walker Brewing Company in California. In my defense, there are no Trader Joe’s in ‘Bama so I haven’t had access to their wares in years. During a recent Maltercation, I mentioned Imperial Brown Ales as a style that I thought was criminally underrepresented on package store shelves. So the fact that Trader Joe’s 2011 Anniversary Ale is just such a brew makes me very pleased. Now I just need to travel to a state that actually HAS a TJ’s so I can grab a bottle.
7. MGD 64 Lemonade: Esquire deems this beer the “one to avoid” this year and they couldn’t have selected a more deserving target. Look…if you want to get drunk on lemonade, pour some goddamn vodka into your lemonade. At this point, it’s getting too easy to mock Miller’s absurd marketing gimmicks. It’s bad enough that they’ve become obsessed with brewing the lowest carb beer possible. Now they’re flavoring it to taste like a children’s beverage? What’s next, Kool-Aid Kölsch? Hawaiian Punch Porter? Sunny D Stout? Their products don’t even resemble beer anymore. Maybe they’ve realized that the watery, urine-flavored garbage they’ve been foisting on the public for decades is losing market share amongst the coveted 21 to 45-year-old male demographic so now they’re hoping to win over underage girls with eating disorders. Good luck with that, Miller.
Thanks to Esquire for giving us a glimpse of the year ahead. It’s an exciting time to be an Alehead and 2011 should be a fun year indeed! Assuming that pesky hop shortage doesn’t destroy the entire industry, of course.*
*While I found the Esquire article pretty straightforward, Doc thought it smacked of journalistic laziness. He went off on a classic Doc e-mail tirade which I decided needed to be appended to this post in its entirety. Enjoy!
Doctor’s Note: This is fucking ridiculous. First, you start out with some really cool new offerings that any good beer geek would be excited about. I even learned something new in regards to (awesome) Firestone Walker’s involvement in Trader Joe’s (shitty) beers. I’d just assume they’re good. The beginning of this article makes sense.
- Hey guys, good cuts of beef to try this year would be grass fed Ribeye from Honky Donk farms in Nebraska and their Kobe style beef that’s fed a strict diet of bull’s semen and sarsaparilla. Tender doesn’t begin to describe it. If you want a nice night out with your lady friend, you can’t go wrong with Shula’s or Ruth’s Chris – Great steaks and a truly remarkable experience. One word of caution for you steak lovers though – Don’t try the McDonald’s Big Mac this year. It’s made from 50% Brazilian cattle raised in mowed down rainforests and 50% saw dust. If you like good beef, you really want to avoid this.
- Hey guys, just got back from the new car show and I’ve got a couple of beauties for you millionaires to purchase. The new Maybach is sweet, the Bentley Ghost will take your breath away, and I saw a nice 1943 Rolls that really would look nice in your driveway. With that in mind, make sure you don’t buy a 1982 Yugo this year. There’s a ton of them down at the junkyard and they barely cost anything, but it should really be avoided.
- Hey guys, you like beer? You like good beer? Well, if you do, make sure you don’t try any low calorie beers mixed with lemonade. If you like stuff that’s good and don’t like stuff that’s bad, I can’t imagine you’d enjoy this.
- Welcome to the bunny ranch, guys. We’ve got this nice blonde, 5-2, 110lbs, a brunette, 5-5, 120 lbs, and a happy fat chick that may or may not have started the evening as a happy fat dude. So, which one would you like. Guys?
What point is he trying to make? Who’s his audience? The audience is either the guy that likes high-end beers or the guy/chick that likes crap. You can’t have both. If his beer to avoid was the Dogfish Festina Peche, I could respect his choice. Sure, peach beer shouldn’t be good, but most people reading the article would take his advice. If he started out with Fat Tire, Pyramid, Redhook, Magic Hat, Blue Moon, then ended with the Miller crap, I think it would work too. If you fill it with some mediocre beers that appeal to the masses, you can throw in something that they may have reached for without your advise. You can’t appeal to both worlds on this issue.