One of the things I love most about beer is the fact there’s always something new to try, but it doesn’t negate the point that there are loads of beers which I know are good, but which I never talk about because they aren’t new.
So today I want to talk about a few beers which aren’t new, but which I’ve drank loads of times, sound exciting? Well it should, because the reason I’ve drank them loads of times is because they are damn good beers. They deserve a repeat visit and every time I’ve had them again I’ve thought “why don’t I drink this beer more often?”
BrewDog Zeitgeist (Black Lager) 4.9%
Zeitgeist hasn’t gained anywhere near as much attention as some of BrewDog’s other beers, possibly because it isn’t as extreme as the likes of Black Tokyo Horizon or as (rightly) popular as the ever approachable new Punk. But it’s still an absolute belter.
Its got a big roasted malt flavour yet a lot of the characteristics of a good lager - nice light to medium body, slightly sweet, refreshing and massively drinkable. Even if the weather’s red hot this dark beer hits the spot.
Drink it straight from the fridge if you want a refreshing yet tasty beer, or let it warm up a little to coax out a more complicatedly roasted chocolate flavour.
Sierra Nevada Celebration (Fresh Hop Ale) 6.8%
They really should change the label of this beer. Calling it ‘Celebration’ and putting a picture of a snow covered cabin on the front screams out ‘Christmas’ more than a holly decorated mince pie - even though the beer inside doesn’t taste in the slightest bit Christmassy.
In fact this is a really well balanced beer with a complex yet satisfying combination of hops and malt; you get grapefruit, green tea, orange pith, and even a touch of herbal mint from the dry hopped American C bombs, alongside fruity, hardcandy sweetness and an underlying crisp toffee from the malt.
It’s just a great beer, any time of year.
Titanic Stout (Stout, duh) 4.5%
Titanic Stout was one of the first British bottled beers that really blew me away. It just doesn’t taste like it came out of a bottle - with a really big, mouth filling cask ale texture and absolutely bags of flavour. I’ve had this on cask and it’s almost identical to the bottle conditioned version, which is no mean feat.
It’s got everything you want from a stout, with a smokiness that’s just softened enough by flavours of chocolate and filter coffee, but remains charred and dry throughout with a really crisp bitter finish. It’s just a stunning stout, and at 4.5% punches well above its weight.
Drink this one at cask ale temperature (not straight from the fridge) and you’ll get a lot more out of it too.
Brooklyn Lager (Vienna/Amber Lager) 5%
I bought a pint of Brooklyn Lager at the weekend to compare it to Thornbridge’s new Kill Your Darlings Vienna Lager, and do you know what? Brooklyn is still the best Vienna Lager I’ve tasted to date. Kill Your Darlings and Flying Dog Old Scratch both came close to knocking it off the top spot, but didn’t quite make it.
It’s just brilliant every time I have it. As an introduction to American Craft Beer I’d say Brooklyn Lager and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are two of the best places to start - but even if you’ve been drinking good beer for years, their worth returning to. Classics for a reason.
Goose Island IPA (India Pale Ale) 5.9%
Goose Island IPA is the perfect example of a beer which I drink all the time but have never written about, because it’s been around for so long. It’s a stunning American IPA even by modern standards, despite the fact it’s been around for over 20 years and is in fact brewed as an “English Style IPA”.
Having recently been taken over by AB-InBev, and now being stocked in Tesco’s, this is a beer that is becoming extremely easy to get a hold of, which in my opinion can only be a good thing.
It’s got big flavours of bitter grapefruit and that classic American IPA citrus/pine needle flavour, yet the underpinning of sweet malt makes it pretty balanced and drinkable. Another one that can stand up to being drunk straight from the fridge, it’s a great beer to coax your macro-lager drinking mates on to good beer.