With age comes understanding, they say, and so comes taste. As you get older, you know what stocks to invest in, how many horses are under your hood and when to plant your habanero peppers. So why not educate yourself on beer? It’s more than just fizzy yellow lagers or dark pints with Irish names. Beer is as complex as your Wall Street portfolio, as detail-laden as your vintage Alfa Romeo, as tasty as your award-winning chili. It’s time to leave 18-packs and college keggers behind and move into the land of 4-packs and caged-and-corked 750 ml bottles. As the managing editor of All About Beer Magazine and a veteran of more than two dozen beer festivals, I recommend these five blessed brews.
1. Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils
From the Longmont, Colorado brewery that first canned craft beer comes this crisp, clean pilsner with a spicy Saaz hops mouthfeel. A sweet, malty backbone and a lawnmower-beer sessionabilty makes it appealing to both working man and bearded hipster. And at a modest 5.3% ABV, you can impress without pickling yourself. More: oskarblues.com
2. Port Brewing Older Viscosity
Talk all you will of your Glenfiddich single malt scotch and Kentucky bourbon. But how about a barrel-aged beer that weighs in at 12.5% ABV, smells stiffer than Auntie Mabel’s bundt cake and pours like motor oil. Sipping this beer is like tasting black gold. Highly regarded among cicerones (beer sommeliers), it has inspired many a beer knurd pilgrimage to its home in Southern California. More: portbrewing.com
3. Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter
Hawaii might seem like an unlikely place to find quality handcrafted ales. But coconuts? Most definitely. Maui Brewing Co.’s twist on the classic robust porter adds the native fruit—toasted, that is—into the mix. It may sound odd, but milk has long been a key ingredient in stouts and porters. This beer smells like a freshly cracked can of coconut milk with strong roasted coffee and burnt toast notes. Like a Thai meal in a can. Maika’i nui loa! More: mauibrewingco.com
4. Founders Brewing Canadian Breakfast Stout
A decadent imperial stout released in small batches once a year from a storied Grand Rapids, Michigan-based brewery, CBS smells of roasted coffee and chocolate, but aging in oak barrels imparts hints of vanilla bean and toasted wood. Maple syrup brings a muted sweetness to the Canada-sized 750 ml bottle and helps tone down the 10.5% ABV kick. Maple, Michigan, Canada and Kentucky all merge together to make this rare beer a must-try. More: foundersbrewing.com
5. 21st Amendment Bitter American
Named for the amendment that repealed Prohibition, this San Francisco brewery recently made this seasonal beer available year-round. Based on the classic English pale ale, Bitter American is low in alcohol (4.4.%), features heaping amounts of malts (Crystal, Munich, 2-Row Pale) but enough bittering hops to keep it balanced. Yet another example to dispel the myth that canned beer can’t have a flavor profile like its bottled brethren. More: 21st-amendment.com
Photos sourced from houston.culturemap.com, whoisbrew.com, beereveryday.com, thenextbarstool.com, theperfectlyhappyman.com and beertography.blogspot.com.