Recently, I was asked to provide my top five beers for a 50 Best Beers of the World article by food and drink website TheDailyMeal.com. I was one of many beer bloggers asked to contribute their opinions, but I was pleased to provide my thoughts. For me, a great beer has to have a certain character as well as superb craftsmanship. There has to be great color, head, aroma and mouthfeel to go along with the heady flavors. That is why I picked the following five beers as my all time favorites:
#5 – Zombie Dust by Three Floyds Brewing Company
Grapefruit and other citrus aromas and flavors dominate this American pale ale with a touch of sweet malts as under notes. Even with its explosive hops character, this beer has a medium mouthfeel and a smooth, crisp finish.
#4 – Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout by Cigar City Brewing Company
Cigar City has made a name for itself by producing consistently outstanding brews. But, its annual release of Hunahpu’s is nothing short of brewing alchemy. This luscious, thick, inky black stout tantalizes with aromas of chocolate, malts, vanilla and a hint of chili peppers. Several sips will reveal a satisfyingly thick mouthfeel and the flavors promised in the aroma with the peppers coming in at the very end for a slight tingle.
#3 – Iris by Brasserie Cantillon
Sour beers are making a play for the American palate in a big way. But, this beer is deceptive in that it hides a slight caramel sweetness within its sour punch. Brewed in Brussels, Belgium and spontaneously fermented, Iris displays the characteristic funk of this style beer along with complex flavors of lemon zest, apple cider vinegar and oak.
#2 – Bourbon County Brand Stout by Goose Island Brewing Company
If stouts are the darlings of many beer snobs’ cellars, Bourbon County must occupy space in many cool dark places. This annual release from Chicago’s Goose Island brewery is one that improves with age, but is a complex delight fresh as well. Aromas of molasses, dark roast coffee and dark chocolate carry through with intense flavors and a lingering, mild sweetness.
#1 – Westvleteren 12
Cliché as it may be, the monks at the Abbey of St. Sixtus of Westvleteran have won my heart over with this huge Belgian quad that packs more complexity into a bottle than any other beer I have ever tasted. The beer is outrageously rich with aromas of dark fruits like figs and raisins cloaked with rum and other sweet fragrances. The flavor is as rich as the aroma with slight hoppiness, sweet caramels, dark fruits and spicy yeast.
So, there you have it, my top five beers in the entire world. I have each in my personal collection and occasionally drag a bottle out for a special event. These are not every day beers; most are low-production, special-release beers that beer aficionados will wait in the most extreme conditions to have an opportunity to obtain. But, to a true beer connoisseur, braving long outdoor lines in snow storms or driving rain is worth the discomfort when they open one of these bottles.