alcohol top 10

Top Ten Beers

11:50:00 AMPaul

An ostensibly unpretentious look at the world of beer (aside from the use of the word "ostensibly").

Chimay Grand Reserve
During Paul's trip to Chicago, I kept him as drunk as possible. The pinnacle was when, after an entire day of drinking, all Paul could think about was going to the store around the corner and getting this fantastic brew. He stumbled through aisles but somehow found his way directly to the bottle he was looking for. Normally, Belgians are not a favorite of mine (the beers, the beers... I've never met a Belgian human) but I have to agree that this is perfectly drinkable/drinkworthy and actually leaves you wanting more. The fact that Paul lost a bet and had to pay didn't hurt matters.

Southern Tier Cuvee #2
Paul lives near Southern Tier and as a special treat, he took me to their brewery for a tour. There was no tour on that day, but they were still serving beer. We had at least two glasses of this thick malty delight on top of sampling the other taps. I wish we could remember more to tell you here. Important Note: Neither one of us took the wheel after enjoying our day here.

Yuengling (v Rolling Rock)
It's very fashionable these days to disparage RR as corporate pisswater since they were purchased by the A-B conglomo-magnate, but it's a solid go-to cheap beer. Of course, its main competitor for any Westerner's affections is that other green bottle, Yuengling, which is a little darker, a little fuller, and only a little pricier. Both are solid and both are the perfect starting point for a fun evening.

Delerium Tremens
Now, I hate adding the suffix -able to any word just to make it an adjective...and i hate the cop-out word "drinkable" when describing beer, as if some beer is so disgusting it can't even pass the lips without instantly inducing vomit--for the record, barleywine is sort of like that for me. So let me explain what i mean. When I say drinkable, I mean that it isn't the kind of beer that comes in a snifter, but also doesn't come in a keg. You are quite aware that you are not drinking a shitty ballpark beer, but you don't have to sit back and describe the notes of each sip to your cross-eyed, cross-legged date. So... Delerium is award winning etc., etc... Highly drinkable, highly rewarding. It has a distinctive taste that is balanced without being middle of the road. Worth the buzz.

A locally brewed, narrowly distributed 12er does not have to be a handcrafted 200 yr old recipe. Lionshead is the exception. A college mainstay, mostly for the price (still under $15 for a case) and the word puzzle (it's called a rebus, kids), but I first drank this as a $2 Mystery Selection at St. [Someone's] Pub on 17th Street on the South Side, and really believed it was some obscure craft beer. I think that proves some sort of point.

Lion Stout
The most obscure this list will get. I had this once in a bottle from the cooler at the now defunct Palate Bistro (from which it's "alleged" I stole dozens of bottles of wines and liquor) and once (or twice, or several times) on draft from the world famous D's Six Pack & Dogz. It was equally delicious both times. Heavy on the tongue but not in the stomach.

Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout
The perfect beer? I've only ever had it in bottles, but it's always at the top of my list, especially if I am attempting to impress a fresh legal drinker and expand his/her-izons. There's the cliche about Guinness that the factory tour will turn you off their imported bottles forever. The beer is apparently so fresh, so much more flavorful and vibrant that the bottled version tastes stale and flat. I imagine if I drank a fresh pint of Mr. Smith's flawless brew, my insides would melt.

Dogfish 60 minute
First time I drank this was for $3 pints at the Cage (and that wasn't even on special--try to get that deal anywhere now). This was literally 5 years ago. Dogfish was starting to be more widely distributed and this is their flagship beer. Since then, they've expanded to at least 8 varieties that I've tried. My favorite memory is drinking this in the far back booth at the cage with 2 girls who were exactly the same dame and apparently competing to see who could lead me on. Later in the night, I gave one a piggy back ride... all the way home.

Great Lakes Burning River
They are based in Cleveland... ... ... Okay, now that we got that out of the way, if you have never bought their variety pack, do it. Now.  If you have ever bought it, you know each of those 4 beers are something special, which makes this quite a toss up. Burning River gets the gold, though, because it tastes exactly like its name. The first sip is almost some sort of initiation rite. While the Eddy, the Ness, and the Dorty are all exemplary of their particular variety, Burning River is exceptionally unique, and just two will make you loose enough to take your open mic showmanship to that nextuh levellllllllaaaaahhhhhhhhhh......

Samuel Adam's Cherry Wheat
I still remember serving a five course tasting dinner hosted by a Pgh Sam Adams rep. Of course we made sure we set aside some extras for ourselves... it is sort of what waiters do, but never at the customer's expense. The Cherry Wheat is no doubt the most interesting specialty (i.e. Not the original lager) they have. Unlike all their other beers, this one does not leave me with the distinct impression that they had way too too much hops left over and just tossed it all into the other brewing tanks. Cherry Wheat is refreshing, and not syrupy at all. Great job!

Honorable mention: Franziskaner Weissbier
My first ever legally purchased beer, at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, with a Polish platter watching the Inseams. Little did I know that's the best my life would ever get. I do not recall ever drinking this beer since. [(un)Interesting side note: I only ever drank twice as an underager.]

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