Great Beer

On the way to work this morning, I passed an advertising billboard for Stella Artois: “Six hundred years ago, the quality of life improved dramatically.” Well, hm, okay. A bit pretentious, but whatever.

Now, I haven’t actually tried Stella Artois lately – or six hundred years ago, either, unless I’ve grown forgetful over the years – but it made me think.

What are the really great beers? The world-class ones, that stand head-and-shoulders above the rest?

And, perhaps more interesting, how do you judge? What are your criteria? What makes a beer great? Is it the hops? The alcohol content? The raspberry essence? Or what?

Some other threads about this have been:

What Beer do you enjoy the most?
My Belgian beer report
Tournament of Beer – Final Four!
Favourite Beer
What is a good beer for a beginner?
Newcastle Brown Ale
What’s your favorite drink?
Beer of Choice

I wouldn’t call Stella a “great beer” personally. YMMV.

ratebeer.com lists the following as the top 5 “accessible” beers:

1 Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
2 North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
3 Chimay Bleu
4 Fullers London Porter
5 Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout

Check out the site for ratings on any and all beer.

I find BeerAdvocate.com to be better than ratebeer. Their current top 10 is:

1 Westvleteren Abt 12 (yellow cap)
2 Expedition Stout
3 Stone Imperial Stout
4 Storm King Stout
5 Double Bastard Ale
6 Two Hearted Ale
7 St. Bernardus Abt 12
8 Celebrator Doppelbock
9 Trappistes Rochefort 10
10 Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier

I lived 13 years in the town where Stella Artois is brewed. There are even some pubs that have a direct pipeline to the brewery, and serve absolutely fresh beer. Quite a different taste compared to the bottled Stella.

Best Beer ?
Some extraordinary suggestions to try

  1. Gueuze Lambic Frank Boon
    (most delicious lambic/gueuze I know. Try to get the Faro variant if your S.O. doesn’t like the lambic)
  2. La Chouffe
    (If you like Orval, or Rochefort try this one)
  3. Rodenbach
    (drink the regular in hot weather, grand cru with candle light at a long winter evening)
  4. Judas
    (Similar to Duvel)
  5. Julius
    (a white beer, strong variant of Hoegaerden)

For the amateurs of Trappist beer, if my information is correct,
the sixth Trappist brewery, La Trappe, in the Netherlands, has ceased production. On the other hand, a new trappist beer has emerged, from the monastary of Bocholt. Unfortunately, this trappist beer is not up to standard, and virtually undrinkable.

Moorhouse Black Cat. Mmm.

Flymaster, I looked at the first 20 of BeerAdvocate’s “top 50 accessible beers” list, and at least half of them I’ve never seen at a store (upscale grocery stores and a couple liquor stores.) Also, their top 50 list has only 42 brews on it and is rounded out by Coors Light, Bud Light, and Corona. Think I’ll stick with Ratebeer, it seems to have a lot more existing user feedback than (the newer?) BeerAdvocate.

Enville Gothic ale. Can’t beat it!

Neuroman, I can get pretty much all of their top 20 available beers at specialty beer stores around here, must be a regional thing. Their top x# lists really aren’t what makes the site so good, though. They have 30-40 reviews on pretty much EVERY beer that there is, so you can get a wide sampling of opinions. And it’s a great community, as well.

Ratebeer is a Texan site, and as such will feature more beers available down there, while BeerAdvocate is Boston based, so they have more of what I can get up here.

Crusoe That’s brewed in Burnley! I used to pass the brewery evey day on my way to school! Go Moorhouse’s!