Happy Independence Day! Just got a huge laugh. Spelled Independence with an a, and spell check’s recommendation was indolence. Considering the hiring plight being suffered nationwide by many businesses, perhaps it was intentional. Who says Bill Gates and his minions have no sense of humor?
Because July 4th means fireworks, picnics and beer, even to most winos, I am opting to cover outtakes from Beer Advocates’ top 250 list. There are several good raters for beer, but none as interactive and transparent as Beer Advocate, IMO. Obviously, there is little space to cover 250 of anything. I chose BA because 1) Their interactive site is linked for each recommendation. 2) In the right-hand column on their top-rated page they show their transparency by listing such items as: How to review beer, Beer Styles, BA ratings explained, and Top-rated beers explained. There is enough explanation that even the uninitiated can get up to speed easily. Don’t let terms like “Bayesian based formula” or “weighted rank” appearing in the first paragraph deter. Each is described in straightforward language in the subsequent paragraphs. Here’s the link: beeradvocate.com/beer/top-rated. Normal admonition applies. Just because the paper has gained weight doesn’t mean all are out of the woods from the disaster of last year. Read entire paper, including the ads, and then support our local businesses. Keep in mind that the FANGs aren’t supporting Beebe, Cape schools, senior activities, the arts and kiddy programs in our area. Local merchants are very generous in supporting these activities, and the money spent with them makes our economy thrive. In the grand scheme, I really don’t want to support China, Silicon Valley, LA, Seattle and Portland. We in Lower Slower already have our own albatross in New Castle County to support.
So, this year saw huge changes in the beer rankings at BA. The top 4 and 14 of the top 30 were stouts, while 13 were IPAs. No. 17 is a fruit lambic, Brasserie Cantillon’s Fou’ Foune. No. 26, Brouwerij Westvleteren XII, was a quadrupel, a strong Belgian-style ale with bolder flavor compared to its sister styles dubbel and tripel. Typically, deep red and ruby brown end of spectrum with garnet hues. Full-bodied beer with a rich, malty palate and spicy phenols at moderate levels. Sweet on the palate with a low bitterness yet well-perceived alcohol, 10.2% ABV (alcohol by volume). Quads improve with cellaring. No. 30, Duck Duck Gooze from The Lost Abbey is another lambic-gueuze. I’m an old fuddy-duddy, I guess, but the stouts run 11-15% alcohol, and the last thing I need on a hot summer day is a greasy grilled death ball or dog washed down with stout. All the top-rated IPAs were 8% plus, and the lambic (fruit beer) is unappealing to me, although less alcoholic.
Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. Stout, American-Imperial, 12% ABV, won first place and placed five in the top 30. Tree House Brewing Co. placed seven in the top 30; its King Julius and King JJJulius took 8 and 9, respectively. No. 20 Julius; No. 27 Very GGGreennn, No. 31 was JJJuliuss, and no, I was not making fun of the president’s speech patterns. Highest-rated IPA was Heady Topper from The Alchemist at No. 5, and No. 6 is Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger, a real head buster at 10.25 ABV. FYI, by comparison, Bud Lite 4.3 % ABV 110 cal/12 oz; Bud 5%, definitely not an endorsement for Bud which now contains 30% rice in its mix and is owned by InBev SA/NV. Gussie is rolling in his grave. Let’s go back “to the dogs.” I am an IPA man. Can’t for the life of me understand why none of the great IPAs made the list or so few round here sell Burial Beer Co’s Surf Wax IPA. The aforementioned Heady Topper will run about 4/$20 and worth every penny. Pliny the Elder is a double IPA that will make most smile. Finally, for those who support the women’s equality movement, here are some breweries owned by the ladies: Freemont Disco Wolf (quixotic name); Three Weavers Knotty Double; Fifth Hammer Time Slippers; Outer Range produces a large variety of well-crafted beers and ales, and Lost Coast Fogcutter double IPA. A caveat for those new to stout: They are about 3X more potent than most domestic big names and 4X light. Please put down beer before lighting those cherry bombs or ash cans and enjoy Monday with all 10 fingers. Have a wonderful Fourth!