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Good Beers Around the World (Guide)
June 15, 2012 - 01:19
One of my biggest hobbies in the last 5 years has been good beer. Whether it is brewing good beer, visiting breweries (over 60 now) or picking something new up from the store, I've spent a lot of time experiencing the best beer the world has to offer.
One common misconception about beer is that it is always yellow and fizzy. This couldn't be further from the truth. Another misconception is that the only dark beer that exists is Guinness, and that it is a big, thick strong beer (it is actually a dark color but light bodied, low alcohol beer with some dry roasty flavor and a slight hint of sour). If your usual beer consists of Miller, Coors, Budweiser, Stella Artois or Heineken, or if your "treat" beer is Corona, Dos Equis, Becks or St. Pauli Girl, well, you might just find a totally new experience by trying some of the beer listed below.
For the list, I tried to stick to beers I have had, though in some places I used reputable beers instead. I peppered in a few pictures of some of my favorite breweries thoughout the thread. Also, don't just stick to the region you are in. You can find many of these beers outside of their respective regions. Freshness is important though, especially with lighter beers and hoppy beers (lighter beers because they go bad fast, hoppy beers because you want fresh hop taste). So when in doubt, stick to local craft beer. Exceptions apply, as I still have a half dozen bottles of 2008 Dark Lord, a ~12% alcohol Russian Imperial Stout made by Three Floyds, one of the top breweries in the world, and the taste develops and changes over time (like a good wine).
If you do try any of these, please let me know in this thread what you thought of the beers. If you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to list them, the more the merrier!
USA (West Coast)
Down near San Diego check out Alesmith, Port, Coronado or Stone beer. You can find most of these in Los Angeles as well. Up in San Francisco, look for 21st Amendment, Anchor or Russian River brewery beers. Towards Portland and Seattle, look for Hair of the Dog, Deschutes, Elysian or Rogue beers.
Sierra Nevada is a very good brewery distributed throughout the West Coast.
Vegas sucks for good breweries, they mostly have these little crappy chain breweries that brew sub par beer. However, since you'll probably be on the strip, a good place for beer is Bally's. There's a stand near the back of Bally's, just before you start going into the shops that connect to Paris. It's a stand with a bunch of fruity alcohol drinks, but they also sell Stone IPA and Laganitas IPA, two great West Coast Beers, in 22oz bottles (a bit less than 750ML). They sold Abita too last I was there, but get one of the IPAs, the explosion of fresh hop bitterness is a hell of an experience, and quite pleasant.
If you're down by the Pallazo, there's a little sports bar type lounge near the front that has a good beer list. And if you go to any of the nicer restaurants (like the steakhouses on the strip, N9NE, Smith and Wollensky, Strip Steak, etc.) they usually have a solid beer list.
Otherwise, you're lucky if you can find Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (another good west coast beer).
Minneapolis-St. Paul has Surly, Barley John's, Flat Earth and Town Hall Brewery.
Wisconsin has New Glarus, Capitol, Lakefront and many more.
Chicago has Goose Island, Three Floyds and Metropolitan.
Michigan has Founders, Bells, Dark Horse, New Holland and Arcadia.
Ohio has Great Lakes and Hoppin Frog.
If you're in Atlanta or the surrounding areas, look for Sweetwater Brewery beer. If you're in New Orleans, Abita and Crescent City are good. Texas has some good craft beer including Southern Star (Houston) and Thirsty Planet in Austin.
USA (East Coast)
Dogfish head is a great brewery known for eccentric and unique beers, Allagash has some great beers up in New York, as does Southhampton. Shipyard and Portsmouth make some good brews as well.
The first thing that sticks out about the UK is "real" or cask ale. Many pubs offer beer fresh from the cask, a lower carbonation and totally unique experience. But if the cask is not your thing, there is plenty of flavorful beer in the UK served in traditional bottles or on tap with co2.
Fuller's makes some really good beer, I particularly like their ESB and London Porter. Young's has a good chocolate stout and Theakston in Yorkshire is highly recommended. Samuel Smith in North Yorkshire exports to the USA and I enjoy several of their beers on occasion. Other notable breweries include Black Sheep (try the brown ale), Thornbridge (IPA) and Meantime (in London).
Over in Ireland, Beamish makes a good dry stout, and I prefer it to Guinness. If you're in Scotland, try Traquair's House Ale.
If you're in Belgium, you're in luck. Not only do you have access to good beer, but you have access to 100s of years of monastic brewing traditions and the interesting architecture and process that goes with it. So drop the Stella and pick up a real beer, from one of the breweries listed below.
Some of my favorites and the general direction the brewery is located in Belgium, include Chimay, De Struise (West), Duvel (Antwerp), St. Bernard (West) and Orval (South). If you like tart and sour beer, check out Cantillon (Brussels). It's not my thing, but many beer enthusiasts love that kind of beer.
Belgium was the previous king of beer (in my opinion), before the USA beer revolution. While Germany and even the UK have always brewed some great beer, Belgium's unique beers were the result of the creativity that spawned the USA's craft breweries, combined with the dedication that the Germans have always shown towards the process of beer. One place the individualism of each Belgian beer can often be seen is in the yeast. The Belgians manipulate yeast as well as anybody, and were the pioneers of this part of the brewing process. The fruity, sometimes tart flavors in Belgian beers can be directly attributed to the yeast. Many more flavors come out of these yeast strains, see what you can pick out.
Germany still holds 1st in one main category of beer, the lager. While the sheer size and unrestrained experimental nature of the US craft beer scene has led to them taking over as best in many main categories (pale ale, ipa, barleywine, stout, brown, amber and many more), Germany still is the clear winner when it comes to lagers. Some of my favorite German styles of beer are very difficult to find in the USA, due to the importance of freshness and care when it comes to lager style beers, and the difficulty of brewing them. I particularly enjoy doppelbock, swarzbier (black beer), Munich dunkel, oktoberfest and marzens. I had an eisbock before as well, a beer that is brewed, then partially frozen (water freezes faster than alcohol). Ice is then removed, strengthening the beer.
Look for a crisp, clean taste with many of these beers. Some caramel and some smoother almost roasted flavors can come with the darker styles of German beers (dunkel, bock or swarzbier for example). As always, look for fresh, quality driven beers. The bigger breweries often have less flavorful beers. If it's really cheap, it's likely not your best choice, because it is cheap for a reason (ingredient quality and quantity most often).
These choices are based more on reputation and other opinions than my own, as it is difficult to get fresh German beer in the USA and I have not yet visited.
In Düsseldorf visit Schumacher, Schlüssel, Uerige and Füchschen. Out West in Leipzig, check out Ohne Bedenken. In Munich, Hofbrauhaus is popular and north in Nurnberg, Hausbrauerei Altstadthof looks good. In Berlin, Brauhaus Lemke Hackescher Markt should be a good choice. I've had and enjoyed Ayinger beer (Munich), so that might be worth checking out as well, though I don't see it recommended online.
I'll try to get to Russia, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Australia, Japan and China in future posts.
June 15, 2012 - 04:15#1
I have homebrew on tap at
I have homebrew on tap at home so :P
I'm just about to carbonate an Oatmeal Stout tonight to help get me through these cold winter months.
For Aussie beers, you generally can't go wrong with anything by Coopers or Little Creatures (especially their Bright Ale). James Squire Golden Ale is also really refreshing.
These are all pretty mainstream down here though, but much better than the crap you guys get from us like Fosters.
June 17, 2012 - 17:00#3
I hope you tried Belgium beer
I hope you tried Belgium beer Hoegaarden, Ryan?
June 18, 2012 - 08:55#5
Dont know actually. I am not
Dont know actually. I am not very educated in beers. But here in pubs most popular white beer is Hoegaarden :)
June 19, 2012 - 08:20#6
Yeah all grain all the way,
Yeah all grain all the way, but I can only brew ~10L at a time on the stove. I resort to kit beers but still use liquid yeast, I have an erlenmyer flask, on a magnetic stirrer I made using a computer fan and a few bits and pieces , that is filling up with a Wyeast Yorkshire Ale starter (or something) as I type.
I use BIAB so I can't lift the grain bag if I brew more than 10L. I'm in the process of fixing up my house and will set up a hook/pulley system outside so I can brew ~50L batches :D
I'm pretty sure that the Little Creatures Pale Ale is very similar to Sierra Nevada.
On a side note LC just got bought out by Kirin, the owners are getting ~20-30 mirrion dorrars each!
June 18, 2012 - 12:37#8
That's a thread that is very
That's a thread that is very interesting (no offense to the other posters, but it's hard to beat a talk about good beers).
In my case, I'm a big belgian beer fan. I live in Paris, and Brussels in less than 2 hours from here by train, so I go there many times during the year to buy some brands that can't be found here.
Really like the ones you already listed, but allow me to add some, that are among my favorites:
- Hoegaarden: the basic one is pretty common in the pubs in France, but still very good. As for the "Grand cru" and "Verboden Vrucht" (forbidden fruit), they are both excellent, particularly the latter. I found that it's very important to serve the Hoegaarden beers very cold, more than the other brands (warm hoagaarden has a pretty strange taste).
- Kwak: well known too, with its strange glass. Very good beer.
- Rochefort: dark trappist beers. Good but can be pretty strong (the Rochefort "10" is 11% abv)
- Maredsous, abbey beer
- Tripel Karmeliet: it's a non-certified abbey beer, one of my favourites.
- Kasteelbier: also a non certified abbey beer, with 4 types of beer, dark, blond, tripel and red. The tripel and blond are the 2 best beers in the world for me. The tripel is 11% and the blond with "only" 7% is a little lighter. You need to try these if you haven't before!
- Cuvée des trolls
..... and so many others :)
These are my favorite.
Belgium also have a lot of "beer for girls", with fruits in it, mostly peach, cherry, raspberry. The most well-known, like "Mort subite" can be pretty sweet, a bit to much for me.
The Cantillon beers you mentioned earlier are a bit special it's true. They are Lambic beers (gueuze, faro, kriek...). The particularity of Cantillon is that the beers are still made the same way they were in 1900. I have tasted a few of their beers, and they are very good. They make gueuze and also produce fruit beers, Kriek (cherry), Rosé de Gambrinus (raspberry). As opposed to the ones I talked about before, these beers are not sweet at all, but are very good. But as Rypac said, you have to like sour beers. They also have a grappe flavoured one, but it's made only in very small quantity and is very hard to find.Another great thing about Cantillon is that you can also go there to visit the brewery (located in Brussels). You can see the different steps of making a Lambic beer, and at the end of the visit, you also get to taste a few of their products. If you like beer, it's a great place to visit.
I guess that's all.
June 18, 2012 - 14:07#10
Beer and Belgium
What do you think of, - Affligem
- Westmalle triple
I am Dutch, but live in Belgium for 8 years now. When you're a beer-lover it's heaven on earth,
because the're hundreds of diffrent beers. : )
When you're a good online poker-player it's not good because
the tax is to high! (from poker). lol
But when you're a true beer-lover you have to visit Belgium,
because they have the best beer in the world!
July 10, 2012 - 01:48#12
Don't forget Canada! Unibroue
Don't forget Canada! Unibroue is the only Canadian brewery I actually have tried much of but La Fin Du Monde is a great fruity and light tasting (despite 9% abv) belgian beer that you can find at a lot of places and La Maudite is one of my favorite belgian style ales. Outside of those I end up going for a lot of other belgians like affligem or leffe, or if I can I'll get Goose Island's matilda or sofie since Chicago is where it's at.
I'm going to Dublin and London this month so I'm pretty stoked to have Guiness at the source and try some new UK brews...what should I get in London?
July 30, 2012 - 16:44#13
heard of Maes Pils? they used
heard of Maes Pils? they used to brew it the same village where I'm from