1. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye, California (Rye Beer, 6.6 ABV)–The grassy, peppery notes of the rye come through on the finish, but before that there’s a wonderful show of malt sweetness-piney hops interplay and a light, spry mouthfeel. Incredibly, dangerously drinkable.
2. 21st Amendment Bitter American, California (American Pale Ale, 4.4 ABV)–There’s a ridiculous amount of flavor and depth to this beer for only being 4.4% alcohol. The bitter, citrusy hops are predominant, but there’s also enough in the malt department to make this beer truly three dimensional. Tasty, quaffing, complex, crisp–it gives the Stone Levitation a run for best sub-5.0 ABV on the market. Drink up.
3. The Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale, California (Saison, 6.7 ABV)–There will almost always be a saison on this list, and this time around it’s the Red Barn Ale, which comes across as peppery and slightly yeasty but texturally light and breezy, laced with complex notes of lemon, meadow flora, herbs and a touch of wheat. Very lovely.
4. De Dolle Dulle Teve, Belgium (Tripel, 10.0 ABV)–Consistently one of my favorite Tripel/strong ale’s from one of my favorite Belgian breweries. This is a big mouthful of beer bordering on the sweet side with lots of rock candy, bread, esters, citrus, spice and coriander underneath a thick white head. One “Mad Bitch” that’s always up for repeat visits.
5. Maredsous Brune (8), Belgium (Dubbel, 8.0 ABV)–All the usual Dubbel suspects: fig, plum, caramel, sweet cooked fruits, bread, spice and cola but delivered within a focused and surprisingly fresh mouthfeel. The beer does not feel cloying or clodding like many Brunes.