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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Updated Top 10 Beer List

I am drinking my new favorite beer tonight so I thought that I should update my list...

10. Duvel

This is a classic Belgian strong ale and particularly great in the summer. I used to not drink this much as it seemed too much of a cliche. But it is such a great beer that I keep coming back to it. It has a wonderfully crisp taste with a hint of apple. But don't be fooled by the lightness; it packs a punch at 9% alcohol.

9. Westmalle Tripel

I have a special place in my heart for Belgian tripels as this was the first kind of good beer I ever had. While the Tripel Karmeliet is still a favorite, the Westmalle Tripel has rightfully taken its place on the Top 10 list. There is a perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness in this beer. The head on this beer is unreal.

8. Stone Old Guardian

I have a great story about this beer. A couple of months ago I spent a fabulous week in NYC with my great friend Ted and his family along with my family. To my surprise and delight, Ted stocked the fridge with lots of great beers. One day we decided to go see if there was anything else good at the store and we happened upon this treat from Stone Brewing. What a great find! Such a nice full bodied barley wine with caramel and raisins.

7. Trois Pistoles

It is hard to know which beer from the Canadian brewery, Unibroue, to put on the Top 10 list. But I can't get enough of this Belgian-style strong dark ale. Nice cherry and caramel flavors with a nice head. I especially love this beer on tap, which I can find occasionally at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur, GA.

6. Three Philosophers

For such an easy to find beer, this Belgian-style blend from Ommegang in NY is unreal. When I was first presented with this combination Belgian-style quadrupel with Lindemans lambic, I didn't think I would like it. But this beer has become a favorite among my posse in Atlanta. Whenever we get together now, I can almost guarantee that someone will bring a bottle of this beer. And everytime after we drink it, we all look at each other with a knowing smile.

5. St. Bernardus Abt 12

How can you resist a beer with such a nice smiling monk on the label? As if that didn't sell me on this beer, the beer itself was no disappointment. This has become my most regular beer. It is a classic Belgian quadrupel that is oh so drinkable. If I could afford it, I would have one every night. Hmmm...maybe I should have one now!

4. JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale

This is easily the best English barley wine I have ever had. The hoppiness will blow you away. This is a big beer and not for the fainthearted. I love the head on this beer and the nice spicy smell. JW Lees also makes a few other versions of this beer in which they store it in casks that had contained port, sherry, or an apple brandy. I highly recommend all of these.

3.Rochefort 10

This is my favorite beer that I can buy in Atlanta. The only thing that keeps this from being #2 is the rarity of the Westvleteren 12. The first time I had one of these at home, my wife walked downstairs and asked about the cologne she smelled. This Belgian Quadrupel is very malty with flavorings of plum and spice. I get almost as much enjoyment out of smelling this beer as I do drinking it.

2.Westvelteveren 12

I'm still pining for another one of these. I've had two now and the hype is for real. This is truly a world-class beer, made even more desirable by how difficult it is to find. My understanding is that they don't distribute the beer; the only way to get it is to go to the abbey in Belgium. Hmmmm...maybe it is time for a trip? This is the quintessential Belgian Quadrupel with all the body and complexity that you would imagine.

1. Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (2004)

Where to even begin with this beer? I never thought that a non-Belgian would top my list, but Dogfish Head has done it with this insane American Double Stout. I can't believe a beer with an 18% alcohol content could be so smooth. This is one of the blackest beers I have ever had, yet it is so smooth and silky to the palate. It is also the most complex tasting beer I have had, with hints of chocolate, currants, and raisins. It is sweeter than most stouts and almost redefines the genre all by itself. It is rather pricey at $9 for a 12oz bottle, but worth every penny.

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