Anyone who’s spent any time at all chatting with other beer apprecionados about the various superlative brews they’ve sampled has compiled a list in their head of which beers they aspire to someday drink. Some are difficult to find because of geographic location (either because the beer isn’t distributed to wherever they live, or there’s a pesky ocean in the way, or what have you), or they’re simply brewed in very small batches that disappear quickly. Or, at worst, both may be the case. I certainly have a few on my list of ‘beers I must drink before I die’, and crossing a beer off that list is a pretty awesome feeling (though they tend to get replaced quickly).
So fellas, enlighten us: What are the top three beers on your beer bucket list?
Please list in order of preference, even if it hurts.
KID CARBOY JR.
Novice that I remain, and due to difficulties in the procurement and distribution department when it comes to beer, it’s almost easier for me to list “bucket list breweries” than it is specific beers. Living where I do in central Illinois means access to beers from a number of great breweries, but by no means all of them. As such, certain brew experiences that others rave about are a total mystery to me. They can be itemized as such, although these are really more of examples than straight rankings.
- Alesmith – They’re good, right? Unlike contemporaries like Russian River, which I’ve at least had a few beers from, I’ve never had a single brew from Alesmith. Their bottles at least look nice…when I gaze at them online. Speedway Stout sounds right about up my alley. But unfortunately, that’s about the most I can really know.
- Deschutes – Another brewery I’ve never had the chance to sample even a year-round brew from. That’s why I have to list the entire brewery—I mean sure, I could go all geek on you and say “Deschutes Abyss, ZOMG,” but that wouldn’t really communicate the full point: I want to try them all! I want some Hop in the Dark! I want some Hop Henge! I want some freakin’ Black Butte for chrissakes! I don’t think I’ve ever personally threatened an entire brewery before, but it doesn’t seem like overkill when I say DISTRIBUTE TO ME OR FACE DESTRUCTION.
- Roughly a billion Chicago brewery one-offs – This one kills me the most because they’re right up there, and yet I still can’t get them without going into the city. Every week there are exceptional, special one-offs being released in Chicago, beers like Half Acre’s “Ginger Twin” India red ale or Double Daisy Cutter, or Revolution’s imperial stout collaboration with Three Floyds, “Sodom” and its small stout sibling, “Gomorrah.” This is the stuff that I’m painfully aware I’m missing, every weekend I spend in the safety of my own home.
It’s enough to drive a man to drink. But I’m okay with that.
DR. RIPPED VAN DRINKALE, III
When we started this site over a year ago, I had a pretty strong bucket list going that never seemed to go anywhere. My interest in craft beer was waning a bit and out of laziness I just grabbed whatever was distributed locally and ignored the rest of the beer world out of spite (I’m a spiteful man, after all). In the past year though, my flame has been rekindled and I’ve knocked off quite a few beers that I thought would never grace my thirsty gullet.
Like The Kid, I had entire breweries mixed into my bucket list right along with singular one-offs that I had been dying to try for years. The big one I knocked off was Deschutes. While I haven’t had nearly as many offerings as I’d like, I’m happy to say I’ve had 3-4 solid samples sent in from various reaches of the country and I’m a better man because of it. Did I say better? I meant fatter. I’ve also finally tried a few of the best brews from Russian River, including Pliny the Elder, which was tops on my bucket list for years running (Sorry RR, my first bottle came from Sudsy, who got it on eBay. Gotta do what you gotta do). The last bucket list beer I erased from my list was the overly simple yet amazingly delicious Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point. No back-alley dealings or internet scams with Nigerian Princes were needed to procure that beer, just some lucky distribution that finally made it into my area.
So, now that I’ve either bored you with the details here’s my updated bucket list. I now only keep 3 beers on this list and avoid complete brewery lineups, not because Beerford told me to, but because madness creeps in the longer this list gets.
- Portsmouth Brewery Kate the Great – I’m sure it’s not as great as I think it is, I’m sure the hype is unwarranted, but I want this beer and I want it now. Part of the reason I keep this beer at the top of my list is because I live an hour from Portsmouth and I could actually get a bottle on Kate The Great day if I got off of my lazy ass (I miss it every year). Unlike Dark Lord, it’s pretty easy to get a bottle or a fresh pint of Kate if you just go at the right time of day.
- New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red – Probably strange to have a beer on my bucket list that I’ve actually had before, but I’ll explain. This is the arguably the best Belgian-style beer brewed in the US. New Glarus is absurdly limited in its distribution area. I want things that I can’t get, and I want them even more if I get them once and can’t get my damn hands on them again. Yes, I’m a two-year old. I loved this beer when I had it 7-8 years ago and I desperately want another bottle. I’m tempted to connect through Milwaukee on my next trip to anywhere just to get some.
- Minneapolis Town Hall Masala Mama IPA – I’ve been intrigued by this beer for years. Admittedly, I only stumbled across it by perusing the “Top” whatever lists on BA, but ever since I found it I’ve been on a quest. Not much of a quest really, being that I have to go to Minnesota to get it, but still. Even worse, I sent a friend to this brewery/bar/restaurant a few months ago and his reviews of the Masala Mama were more than glowing. I have a very distinct flavor profile for IPA’s and everything I’ve read leads me to believe that this beer was brewed with my tongue in mind.
COMMANDER PINT O. CHUG
Like Doc, I’ve knocked a bunch of beers off my bucket list in the past several months. Contributing my shlock talk to Aleheads has exponentially amped up my interest in beers and my motivation to go out and get things that aren’t readily available. But bucket lists are like any competitive sport: as I conquer some, I add more that I’d like to take on.
Those who follow my rantings will know what to expect from my list–and what not to expect. You’re not going to find any farmhouse ales, red ales or milds, and everything is going to be 8% ABV or higher. So here’s your updated Commander’s Bucket List for 2011:
- Kern River Citra DIPA. I’ve heard outstanding things about Kern River Brewing Company, buried about halfway between Bakersfield, CA and Death Valley. Its Citra DIPA in particular is legendary, and just my speed: a full-flavored citrus-forward DIPA that’s loved by the intrepid few who make it out to Kern River. If the Commandress ever leaves me I am totally moving to the desert and starting a brewery.
- North Coast Old Rasputin XII. This one was only brewed once, so the chances of my ever trying it are diminishing. I don’t care for the original Old Rasputin in a bottle, but on the nitro pour at Bodega it is insanely good. (If the Commandress ever leaves me I am totally getting a nitro keg system for my bedroom.) The Old Rasputin XII is the perfect bucket list beer for me, well I guess not “perfect” since there’s one higher on my list, but very close to perfect–sort of like that graphing equation where the curve would approach zero but never actually get there. That confuses me.
- Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. I don’t really know what to expect from this beer. If I expect it to be on par with Founders KBS, it will surely disappoint. So I’ll temper my anticipation. At the same time, I’ve tried exactly two offerings from Cigar City — both courtesy of Brother Barley Beermail package delivery service — and I want the best they offer. I could have put the Marshal Zhukov Imperial Stout here instead, but I am limiting myself to one bucket list beer per brewery, so I’ll arbitrarily go with the Hunahpu. After all, if I haven’t tried them, how do I know which I’ll like better? If the Commandress ever leaves me I am totally trying both.
Barley: Just make the trip down to ‘Bama. I’ve got a bottle of Hunahpu chilling in my fridge.
Commander: So I don’t need my wife to leave me to try it? Bonus.
Barley: She can come too! How pregnant could she possibly be?
Commander: Very. I told her that in recognition of carrying and delivering our three children, I would gladly share one Founders KBS with her. She is psyched.
Barley: You’re an officer and a gentleman.
Commander: Well… an officer.
Barley: I had a KBS last night. Delicious as always.
Commander: Yeah. “Lord” Copperpot, has been sending updates as he’s shared each bottle with a treasured friend or family member. I guess I’m glad to know I contributed to father/son bonding last night.
Barley: I shared mine with Brother Barley.
Commander: That guy is a dick. I can’t believe you wasted a perfectly good KBS on him.
Barley: Indeed. But I can’t seem to shake him.
Commander: Maybe you should take down the “under construction” sign on your forehead and he’ll leave you alone. (Editor’s Note: That joke is so inside, the umpire should give a warning for it).
Barley: Still better than sharing with Slouch.
Commander: Because Barley holds it down? OK, I can see that. Alright… back to work…
Slouch: I can hold it… nevermind.
BROTHER BARLEY MCHOPS
I’ve sampled Westy 12 and the Dark Lord. Crushed many a Pliny the Elder and Abyss. Sipped a Utopia and a smattering of KBS bottles. When it comes to prestige beers, I’ve had my share. But there are still so many out there that continue to elude me. Limiting my “bucket list” beers to three is ridiculous since my list contains roughly 1,000 beers and grows every day. Nevertheless, Magnus taught us that life is short and we don’t always have the chance to do everything we want. If my days were numbered, I’d attempt to tackle these three brews:
- Russian River Pliny the Younger – A no-brainer, of course. Currently sitting pretty with the pole position on BA’s Top 100, the Pliny is considered the epitome of the Imperial IPA style. Beerford sampled this legendary brew a few weeks back and came away thoroughly impressed. Considering Russian River’s bona fides and my love for the Elder, I have no doubt the Younger would mesmerize me. Number one…with a bullet.
- Portsmouth’s Kate the Great – Like the Good Doctor said, it’s kind of embarrassing that none of us have tried this one yet (seeing as how I attended college in New Hampshire and then lived in Boston for a few years). The Kate is in the same ballpark as the Dark Lord and Hunaphu. A big, bold Imperial Stout that can only be purchased one day a year at a special brewery event. I’ve only had a couple Portsmouth beers during a trip through the town a few years back, but I remember enjoying them very much. People swear by the Kate and since I’ve got a bit of an obsession with Imperial Stouts, I can’t imagine this one letting me down.
- Petite Orval – An odd choice, but one I need to try before I shuffle off this mortal coil. The Petite Orval is the patersbier for the Trappist monks of Orval (most Trappist monasteries make a lower-strength beer “strictly” for the brothers). Orval is unique amongst Trappists in that the brewery only makes two beers: the ubiquitous “standard” Orval (quite possibly my all-time favorite beer) and the lower-ABV Petite which is exclusively served on the premises of the monastery. Even if it’s not as good as the standard (and it probably isn’t), I’d like to say that I have consumed the beer that my heroes drink every day.
The postman left a box on the doorstep yesterday that will soon allow me to cross Deschutes The Abyss off my bucket list. Thanks Hordeum! Likewise, I plan to make a beeline shortly to Birmingham, AL before Barley makes a huge mistake and wastes his Hunahpu Imperial Stout on the trollish Commander.
That being said, my bucket list is still embarrassingly long and contains some interesting beers not yet mentioned:
1. Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout – The bastard Canuck brother of KBS, the aging barrels for CBS were used previously at an artisan maple syrup operation. That’s right, both bourbon and maple syrup in those barrels. Then, Founders Breakfast Stout. What do you get? The legendary Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, generally available (very rarely) on draft. Haven’t had it, near impossible to find, but I’m absolutely certain I love this beer. An easy number 1, eh?
2. Three Floyds Dreadnaught – I wouldn’t turn down the Dark Lord, but I have had my share of prestige Imperial Stouts… I’m more intrigued by this Imperial IPA from the masters of Munster. Who has two thumbs and wants “A hophead’s dream beer… an opening salvo of mango, peach and citrus hop aromas that sit atop a pronounced caramel malt backbone. Strong and intensely hoppy ale…9.5% ABV, 100 IBUs.”? This guy.
3. Cigar City Guava Grove Saison – I’m an huge Cigar City fanboy, and this just sounds delicious. If I make it to old age, I want to be put in the sort of convalescent home where the CC Guava Grove Saison is served in goblets at breakfast, so I can take my pills.
LORD MASHTUN COPPERPOT
a) an insanely hopped double imperial IPA
b) an intensely flavored, yet smooth and drinkable, imperial stout
You know, unlike the rest of the lowlifes who write for this site.
I, too, was able to recently cross off a beer from my bucket list thanks to the “Commander.” The KBS you sent is fantastic, but the lasting memories you’ve provided me with, and I’m talking about the father/son bonding you indirectly facilitated, are truly priceless (read: Lord Copperpot drank most of the KBS and drafted a fantasy baseball team while ignoring Granddad Copperpot). I’m going with 2 hop-bombs and 2 highly regarded stouts.
- Russian River’s Pliny the Younger – Sure, it’s on everyone’s list. But it’s my favorite beer style and I’ve never heard of anyone being disappointed. Plus, there are worse things than having an excuse to go to California to drink great beer.
- Bell’s Hopslam – If you’ve read the site or listened to a podcast over the past month (which, most of you haven’t because, I mean, no one actually reads this shit), you’ll note the ample vitriol that’s been slung in Larry Bell’s direction. I’m down with a temporary boycott of Bell’s, but not at the expense of Hopslam. I must try this beer…to hell with my moral stand.
- Hoppin’ Frog’s B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher – I need to get my hands on one of these bad boys. I want to be crushed. Crush me, BORIS. Crush me!
- Deschutes’ The Abyss – Slouch, wait for me! I’m getting in my car right now for the 12-hour trip to your front door. Thanks for waiting to share this with your good buddy!
Fine choices all. I hope my fellow Aleheads are able to sip these divine nectars before they ascend to the pearly gates (where they will be mocked relentlessly before being booted downstairs). As for me, my beer bucket list is far more humble:
1. Beer (any beer) out of Scarlett Johansson’s cleavage.
2. Beer (any beer) out of Jessica Biel’s ass dimples.
3. Beer (any beer) out of Marisa Miller’s neck hollow.
See, I’m not as unreasonable as my brethren. Hell, I would even drink a lager in any of the three above scenarios! Until next time, dear readers, remember to…