Tag Archives: Smuttynose

What is Local?

In the beer community you often hear the mantra “Support your local breweries, drink local beer”. Well, what exactly does “local” mean? It has different meanings depending on who you ask, but that doesn’t mean that only one answer is correct. So… what is local?

Here in Rhode Island, we get beer from all over the country world. Most of it comes from the US. We get a lot from Europe, and even some from as far away as Japan. I’m not talking about beer that’s actually brewed in the US under license from foreign breweries. I’m talking about actually importing the final product from these other countries. It travels pretty far. Most beer geeks (I prefer the term geek) will seek out the best beer regardless of how far it traveled. Many prefer to support their local breweries. That’s where this question of “what is local?” comes into play.

Rhode Island is a small state. In fact, it’s the smallest state. We have four brewpubs and one production brewery. The beer to come out of these places is local beer for us. But being as small as we are, we are very close to many other breweries. Local has many meanings. It can mean in the town, in the county, or in the state. Well, New England states tend to be small. Maine is our only exception, though it’s nothing compared to some of the states west of the Mississippi River. New England has a very strong regional feel to it. When it comes to beer, at least in Rhode Island, local does not mean in the same state. We have to branch out to reach more beer than the five beer producers in this state. Once you add in Massachusetts, you add several more breweries and a whole bunch of brewpubs. Tossing in Connecticut adds in even more. These are all within about a 3 hour drive from most of Rhode Island. I’m not going to stop there, though. Local to me is anything produced in the six New England states. This adds in a ton of breweries from Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire, all of which have several breweries. The reason all of these breweries are local is because they are all within a relatively short drive, a drive that would keep you within many of the larger states out west.

The larger western states might have a different definition of local. They might make it a radius from their location. They might consider it anything within the same county or state. I tend not to think of local in terms of a radius. The biggest reason for that is because of the ocean. While Southampton might be pretty close to RI as the bird flies, it’s not quite as easy to get to as some places farther away in northern New England. This differs from the western states because there’s no ocean between you and the next state. A radius makes more sense. My definition most likely differs from that of people from a place like Vermont where they have an abundance of breweries all over the state. It probably differs from someone from Boston or Portland, ME where there are multiple breweries right in town. Ultimately, local has a different meaning for each person, but it need not mean only beer from  your state/county/town.

Let’s consider something else – the purpose of local. Local is used in terms of environmentalism and economics. With environmentalism, it’s used as a way to reduce pollution of trucking goods all over the place. Your “carbon footprint” is lowered by consuming local goods. With economics, it’s stimulating the economy of your location, whether that be town, state, or region. The reason I bring this up is that with beer, it tends to be considered in terms of economics. Drinking local beer supports the local economy and breweries in your local area. It raises an interesting question when it comes to contract brewed beers, such as Narragansett. The company is located in Providence. The money comes into Providence. The beer is brewed in Rochester, NY. Is it local? In terms of economics, yes. In terms of environmentalism, no. Would I consider it local as far as beer is concerned? Most definitely.

No matter how you define “local” when it comes to beer, support your local breweries. They may not be the best breweries or make the most amazing beer, but they are still your local breweries. Show pride in your locale, whatever that may be, and drink local beer. For me, that means drinking a Harpoon, a Smuttynose, or a Long Trail. It means drinking a Newport Storm, an Allagash, or a Berkshire. It means that I support New England beer. It means that when I travel, I try to drink the local beers for that area by visiting a brewpub or ordering the local beer. And if I don’t know what the local beer is, I ask. When asked what I’d like to drink, I’ll ask “what’s local and good?” The waiter or bartender usually knows.

I’ll be in Seattle and Bellingham, WA in June, and I’ll definitely be drinking. So… What’s local and good?

The Lion’s Pride

After our Sunday River trip, we  headed down to Brunswick, ME for the night to visit The Lion’s Pride, the newest restaurant owned by Chris and Jen Lively of Ebenezer’s fame. If you like beer and you live in New England (or anywhere really) and you haven’t been to Ebenezer’s, you need to get there… NOW. Of course their hours during the winter are funny, being only open on the weekend, likely due to their seriously remote location. This is why we decided to go to The Lion’s Pride. They’re open every night of the week.

While Ebenezer’s has a small middle of nowhere pub feel to it, The Lion’s Pride has a more urbane feel. Aside from that difference, they’re very much the same. The staff at both restaurants are fantastic. The food is to die for. And the beer… it’s world class. They’re both known for their steak tips, using the same recipe at each and getting their beef from the same local farm. This is what I ordered. And, as expected, they were absolutely amazing. Whatever they use as a marinade is just mouth watering. Susan got the seafood scampi, which said it came with lobster, mussels, shrimp, and scallops. We weren’t expecting much in the way of big hunks of seafood, but on top of the huge mount of pasta was a huge mound of seafood,  including a ton of lobster. I ate my whole meal, but Susan brought hers home. It fed both of us that second night. Prior to our meals, we were brought a small loaf of bread, which was amazing. I think it was a molasses oatmeal bread or something like that. I honestly don’t remember, but it was darker and very tasty.

Now the beer… being indecisive, we ordered a couple flights. They had a taplist of something like 25 different beers, all amazing. This made the choice difficult and the option of getting a flight much more attractive. Our first flight of six beers consisted of the following.

  • Smuttynose G-Bock
  • De Struise Pannepot
  • Cuvee de Jacobins
  • Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine
  • Biere de Boucanier
  • Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted

The Smutty was a great beer, classified as a doppelbock. It was sweeter and quite tasty. Cuvee de Jacobins is a Flanders red ale (or a sour red). The difference is that it’s far more tart than most in the style. In fact, it bordered on being a lambic, in my opinion. Pannepot is a spiced Belgian ale, similar to a spiced quadrupel. It’s tasty, but not my favorite (though I’ve heard it’s excellent aged). The Olde School wasn’t as good as I had hoped. It was hoppier, but not hoppy. The malt profile seemed lacking. I expected more depth to the beer. Bitter and Twisted is a traditional English IPA. It was nice and malty with a touch of hops. It’s very easy drinking. Finally, Biere de Boucanier is a Belgian strong pale ale. I wasn’t overly impressed by it, but it was still good (I’m not the biggest Belgian pale ale fan).

Because there was still so much beer left on the list that I had to try, I ordered a partial flight when we finished the first. That one consisted of:

  • Smuttynose Oak Aged Maibock
  • Allagash Interlude
  • Koningshoeven Quad
  • Bayrischer Berlinerweiss

The Berlinerweiss was ordered straight up. In Germany, they’ll add a shot of flavor to it, like raspberry or apple. We wanted the pure unadulterated beer. It’s a very light, easy drinking wheat beer with a tart finish. It’s a very refreshing beer. I wasn’t impressed with the Quad, which was surprising as I enjoy it from the bottle. Perhaps the difference was being on tap. I actually have  bottle of that in my basement from 2006 that I need to drink. I’ve heard that those bottles had something wrong with them, but I guess we’ll find out when I open it. Interlude is a different type of beer. I think Allagash was going for a saison, but ended up infecting it by accident the first time they made it. It gave the beer a slight hint of funky tartness. It’s an excellent beer as always. My favorite beer of the night, however, was the Oak Aged Maibock. I don’t know what kind of oak barrels Smuttynose used, but I was expecting a big bourbon flavor as with many oak aged beers. This one, however, was very different. The oak gave the beer a nutty maple flavor that I was not expecting. It tasted almost like maple walnut ice cream. It was a superb beer, and, as a big fan of everything maple, easily my favorite.

The waiter we had, Jon, was excellent. He brought us a complimentary glass of the Cuvee de Jacobins as dessert. He knew his beer, as did the other two people working there that night. I was very impressed by their beer expertise, though I shouldn’t have expected anything less. We chatted with them all for a bit before we left. Even though they closed up right after we left (at 9:30 pm), they weren’t in a rush to get us out of there.

Finally, I want to comment on the pricing. Our bill came out to almost $90 for our two meals and the two flights of beer. The way they do the flights is give you basically a half pour for half the price. They fill up large tasting glasses, which are probably about 5 or 6 ounces each. Our beer came out to just about $40, not including tip or the complimentary beer. My meal was the cheaper (I didn’t have lobster in it). Susan’s meal cost $27, but for the amount of food, especially the amount of high quality seafood, it was well worth the price. I am not one to enjoy spending a large amount of money going out to dinner. The food and beer at this place is well worth every penny. In fact, I would dare you to compare the quality of the food with any top quality restaurants in a major metropolitan area. The food matches the quality of some of the best restaurants here in Providence – a city known for it’s culinary masters.

Stouts and Porters Beer Dinner

It probably isn’t fair to be reviewing this one on the heels of the Nikki’s Beer Dinner from last month as that was a tough one to beat.  The Stouts and Porters Dinner at Julian’s on Sunday night was a great time and they did top it one way – entertainment.

In the middle of the dinner, they had a bunch of people from a Chinese dance school come in and do a little thing with a lion that ate and regurgitated some lettuce.  It was accompanied by drumming.  It was really fun and bought a nice new dimension to the dinner.  In addition, Brian from Julian’s also attempted to wear a different color ruffled tux shirt with each introduction for the courses.  Anyway, on to the review.

The first course found us drinking Buffalo Belgian Stout.  I had tried this once before from the bottle at a warmer temp and it was quite enjoyable.  It wasn’t nearly as good off the tap, unfortunately.  It was served with chestnuts and cranberries, which actually paired quite nicely.

The second course was a salad served with Avery The Czar.  The beer was awesome.  It was the first time I had tried it.  I found it a little odd that the strongest beer, at 12.2%, was served with the salad.  It had a lot of depth to the flavor with some dark fruit and anise.  The salad was greens, golden beets, herb encrusted pistachios, and crispy sweet potatoes.  It paired alright with the beer.  Neither over-powered the other, but I didn’t find them overly complimentary.  However, I also didn’t find them to be so opposite that they went poorly together.

The third course is honestly slipping my mind right now.  The beer was a whiskey barrel aged Ten FIDY from Oskar Blues.  This was quite tasty and added a nice dimension to the Ten FIDY without giving it a strong whiskey/bourbon flavor as happens too often when beers are aged in those types of barrels.

Following that was an intermezzo.  Again, the food is slipping my mind.  The beer was Great Divide’s Oak Aged Espresso Yeti.  This is easily one of my new favorite beers.  I managed to try some of this at Track 84 on Thursday.  It’s very tasty and has quite a bit of depth to the flavor.  The espresso is muted enough that it’s not overpowering, but strong enough to really complement the other flavors of the Oak Aged Yeti.  If you can find this, you need to try this beer.

Now onto the main course.  As with all the Julian’s beer dinners, there were 2 options.  Luckily, this time Susan and I picked different options.  I opted for the crab corn butternut squash ravioli, which came with an oak aged Smuttynose Robust Porter.  It turns out that this is actually called “JD” Oak Aged Robust Porter, the JD presumably standing for Jack Daniels.  Boy was that beer strong with the whiskey flavor.  Luckily, some of that flavor died off as the beer warmed, bringing out more of the porter flavors.  The regular Robust Porter is one of my favorite porters.  It’s very flavorful and has a great body.  This rendition of it wasn’t really up to my liking as I’m not big on strong whiskey flavors.  The meal was perfect, though, again, it wasn’t a perfect pairing.  If anything, the strong flavors of this beer took a little away from the food.  The other option was a roasted duck dish served with Hoppin’ Frog’s B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher, an oatmeal Russian imperial stout.  I found my dinner to be better and the beer to be different enough that I was really glad I chose what I did.

Finally, we made it to dessert, which was also a choice of 2 options.  I opted for a pumpkin creme caramel with a ginger cookie.  The beer was Meantime Coffee Porter.  This was the best pairing of the night.  The beer is excellent, and the dessert had just the right flavors.  It had a great consistency and the mix of pumpkin and ginger went well with the coffee flavored porter, which has a nice coffee flavor that is not overwhelming.  The other option was a float made with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.  Again, I’m glad I chose what I did.  It was the better of the 2 options.

Overall, this wasn’t the best pairing, but the beers were fantastic and the evening, as always, was a ton of fun.  Many thanks to Brian, Mike, and the rest of the great staff at Julian’s.  I wish I remembered those other 2 dishes, but I just can’t.  If someone reading this remembers, feel free to post it in the comments.

Next month’s beer dinner is curated by JB Masters from Tigris Beverages.  I won’t be able to make this one or even the following one, which will be curated by Dave from Track 84.

Brief Thoughts on Some Beers

Alright, this is going to be quite the post.  I haven’t been writing about every beer I’ve been drinking lately.  In part, it’s because I was sick last week, preventing me from drinking some of the more “special” beers I have here.  It’s also been because I’ve been lazy.  Work has been busier than it had been because of the beginning of the semester and hiring new staff and all that goes along with Septembers for me.  So I’m going to write a few lines about most of the beers I’ve had recently.  This is in no particular order.  I’m just writing.

I’ll start off with tonight because it’s fresh in my mind.  I’m currently drinking an Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale.  This one was bottled in January.  That means it’s about 10 months old.  This is the reason I clicked the “cellaring” category.  I opened this one because I needed a nice little nightcap.  At 9.4%, it fits that bill just right.  The beer is sweet and malty.  It’s got a seriously strong fruitiness to it, which is really nice.  It’s not like drinking a fruity beer, it’s just a fruity maltiness.  It’s perfect.  It’s got just enough hops in it to give it some balance.  Unfortunately, I have never had this beer fresh.  For whatever reason, I can’t get it in RI.  I picked this up at Julio’s over the summer.  Get it if you see it.  It’s awesome.

I also had Stone Coast (RIP) Jamaica Style Stout tonight.  Susan and I tried to split it, but she wasn’t crazy about it.  I thought it was fantastic.  This one has probably also been aged, though in the store, not my cellar.  Stone Coast Brewing closed on August 1.  I bought this, along with some others, while I could still find it.  It has a very roasty flavor to it.  It’s got a nice medium-full body.  It’s a very drinkable stout.  If you can still find it, get some.  It’s good.

How about some Double IPA’s next?  I’ll continue with Stone Coast.  If you can find some 840 IIPA, get it while it lasts.  This is a great double IPA (their regular IPA is 420 IPA, also excellent).  It’s quite different for a double IPA in that it’s got a strong caramel malt presence.  This doesn’t ruin the beer, however.  It actually enhances it a bit.  It’s not overly hoppy like a west coast IPA, but it’s definitely got a good bit to it.  It is actually not a double of the 420, which tastes almost like a west coast IPA.  They also made a 1260, which I was lucky to be given a bottle.  I’m kind of saving that one.

Rogue Imperial IPA is also a good one if you can get past the cost of the ceramic bottle.  At $15 for the bottle, it’s a bit pricey, and honestly, not worth the price.  However, it’s a great double IPA.  The beer is nice and hoppy, but has a great malt backbone to it.  You might be best trying to find this on tap somewhere (Doherty’s East Ave in the Bucket had it on tap for a while).

The last, but certainly not least, of the recent double IPAs is Smuttynose Big A.  Holy crap!  This is probably the single best double IPA I have had.  I enjoyed this far better than Ruination, Hercules, and even YuleSmith (though I haven’t had the summer YuleSmith, meaning I haven’t had a fresh YuleSmith).  This one has all the hops the west coast DIPAs wish they had, and it came from 2 states north of here.  This one is a must have, though it sells out fast when they do release it.

Being October, I have had a bunch of Oktoberfests, Harvest Ales, and Pumpkin Ales lately.  I’ll mention some of those.  Nikki’s just did 3 weeks of Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales.  Here’s the best of those, some of which I bought.  I’ll start with Pumpkin Ales because I tend not to like them.  The only one at the Nikki’s tasting I really liked was Wolaver’s Will Stevens’ Pumpkin Ale, which seems to be sold out now.  It wasn’t overly spiced and had a nice hops flavor to it.  It was just right.  The best Pumpkin Ale I have ever had was Schlafly from St. Louis.  Susan was nice enough to bring back a bunch of beer for me from her trip out there.  Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is the single best Pumpkin Ale I have ever had.  It was all around perfect.

Now, the Oktoberfests… The best is still Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen.  This beer is a perfect German Oktoberfest.  Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr also have great Oktoberfests that are actually German.  I don’t even know how to describe the flavor.  It’s crisp, clean, and flavorful.  Of the Americans, the best I’ve had are Brooklyn Oktoberfest, Clipper City Marz-Hon, and Wachusett Octoberfest.  They’re all similar in style, though the order I listed is the order of my preference.

Of the autumn/harvest ales, my favorite is Gritty’s Halloween Ale.  It’s an ESB and absolutely fantastic (go figure, their Best Bitter is also awesome).  It’s got that perfect flavor for the fall weather.  It just goes with the fall foliage for some reason.  Long Trail Harvest Ale is another good one.  This is a nice brown ale.  It’s easy drinking and has a good flavor to it.  It’s supposedly made from all Vermont ingredients, though I don’t know if they actually got the hops from up there.  Finally, there’s the Woodstock Inn Autumn Brew.  This one is brewed with cinnamon and nutmeg.  I don’t normally like beers with a lot of cinnamon in them (like Harpoon’s Winter Warmer).  However, this one is actually quite tasty for a beer with those spices.  It’s also worth a try.

And now some one off’s.  Continuing with the Schlafly thing, Susan was nice enough to get me 2 bottles of their Dry Hopped American Pale Ale.  This one is fantastic.  The dry hopping gave it a nice floral aroma.  It has a nice floral hop flavor to it as well and then goes into the pine and grapefruit flavors as it warms up a bit.  It’s a fantastic APA.

I decided to open my bottle of Russian River Damnation while watching and helping some friends brew an ESB.  I’m not normally a big Belgian Golden Ale fan.  However, this beer is probably my favorite of the bunch.  It’s absolutely perfect in my opinion.  It has a good amount of carbonation, but not too much.  It has a nice malt flavor with just the right amount of hops.  It’s sweet, dry, and crisp all at once.  I wish I could get their beers on this side of the country.

And finally, last but not least, probably the single most talked about new pale/amber ale on the market.  I got to try the Budweiser American Ale, and I have to say that I’m very impressed.  It’s nothing special, but it’s solid.  It’s a good pale/amber ale.  It has a nice body, which isn’t thin.  It has a good flavor of hops and malt.  And the best part it, it’s very accessible by people new to craft beer, while having a brand that’s familiar to them.  I think this will be the next gateway beer for many people.  I can see myself buying it for friends and family who prefer lighter beers.  I see myself giving it to people new to the craft beer scene.  I see myself drinking it when I want something cheap or if it’s the only thing a bar has (I drink other stuff if they don’t have any craft beer).

Thus concludes my recent beer thoughts.  I’ll try to keep up from now on, though you never know what might happen.  I apologize for the long post, but this had to get written.  I have even more that I didn’t write about.  If I added those, it would be about 3 times as long.

Cream Crème Cherry

I have a few beers to write about (it seems as though I will always have a beer to write about, there are so many different beers out there).  I’ll go in reverse (based on the title).

Tonight, I had Haverhill/The Tap’s Haver Ale, a cream ale.  It pours a pale amber color with a small head and ample carbonation.  It smells light with a little grassiness to it.  The taste is light, but somewhat creamy, even with all the carbonation.  It has a slight grassy bitter hops aftertaste, but it’s just for balance.  The mouthfeel is pretty creamy as well, but light.  This is a great warm weather beer and a style you don’t normally see very often.  It was very tasty and definitely worth a try.

Last night for dessert, Susan and I split a bottle of Southern Tier’s hot new imperial beer, Crème Brulée.  They call it an Imperial Milk Stout.  I would call it an imperial vanilla stout.  Either way, this is one very different beer.  It pours a very dark mahogany brown with no real head.  Upon popping open the bottle, the smell is strong.  It’s very a very sweet vanilla and heavy cream scent.  It’s nothing I would have ever expected from a beer this dark.  Upon first sip, you can tell this is a sipping beer.  It’s very strong in flavor.  To be honest, it tastes just like creme brulee.  It’s creamy, it’s sweet, and there’s a lot of vanilla and cream flavors in it.  It has an aftertaste of roasted malts that don’t necessarily fit in, but also don’t ruin it.  The only issue is that it is slightly boozy (no shock there at 10% ABV).  This is not a beer to drink on your own.  I split the bottle with Susan and even then it was tough for us to finish (in fact, we ended up pouring a little down the drain not because we didn’t like it, but because it was tough to finish).  This is a beer to be split between 2-4 people and have as dessert.  It would pair well with anything chocolate, vanilla, or creamy.  I have a second bottle that I plan on aging for a year to see if the alcohol will mellow and the roasted bitterness will lighten up a bit.  This would be one awesome beer if the sweeter side was more prominent throughout.

Finally, last night with dinner, I had Smuttynose Hanami Ale.  The label says it’s an ale brewed with cherry juice and other natural flavors.  From what I could tell, it’s an amber ale brewed with cherries.  For a fruit beer, it’s a good one.  It pours a nice amber color with a small head.  It immediately smells like cherries, but not overwhelmingly so.  It has a nice cherry flavor, but it tastes like there are some spices mixed in as well.  I imagine that’s the “natural flavors”.  It’s a very easy drinknig beer, though not overly light.  It’s worth a try.  I’d buy it again.

Gritty McDuff’s Halloween Ale

Tonight’s beer was the first of the autumn beers for me, Gritty’s Halloween Ale. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. I initially thought it was this beer I had last year that had a nice pumpkin spice flavor to it, but I’m thinking otherwise now after having looked at the style (ESB). It’s definitely a good beer. It’s nothing super special, but it’s a nice solid fall brew. It hits you with some up front bitterness, but that mellows out and turns into a nice roasted flavor and then as the taste lingers in your mouth, the bitterness comes back. As the beer warms up a bit, some of that bitterness dies and more of the roasted malt flavors come out, but that spicy bitterness still hangs around a bit. All in all, it’s a good solid beer and makes for a nice session beer. I can see myself spending all night drinking only these.

Now I just need to figure out which was the nice pumpkin beer I had. I’m hoping it’s the Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale (though it could’ve been from the Shipyard or Sea Dog, 2 beers which I did not buy this time around, but there’s always Friday).

Another Brooklyn Beer…

This time it’s Brooklyn’s Brown Ale. I’ve been buying a lot of brown ales lately in my quest to find beers that Susan will enjoy (I’m determined to get her to drink more so I don’t feel like an alcoholic… that and so that she knows what she likes when we’re out). Unfortunately, she wasn’t crazy about this one. However, I liked it. It’s a very no frills beer. It’s just a plain old brown session ale, similar in flavor to Harpoon’s (get this) Brown Session Ale. It’s a reddish brown color with a decent head. The taste is slightly nutty and roasted malts are definitely present. There’s a slight hops bitterness to add a little balance to it. That’s about all you get. It’s not trying to be anything crazy or different, but it’s a good solid session beer. I can see myself putting back a few of these in a… well… session. If you like brown ales, you’ll probably like this one.

Tomorrow will bring us some other beers… I have 2 brown ales left (though one is Susan’s as she does like Sam Smith’s Nut Brown, and the other is Smuttynose’s Old Brown Dog Ale, which has a bit more flavor and is a bit “maltier” than the Brooklyn, and as such, Susan does like it). Of the beers I have left, only one is new to me. I’ll probably have that one tomorrow.

Continuing down my 12 pack mix…

Today’s beer was Post Road Pumpkin Ale from Brooklyn Brewery. It was very pale/amber ale-ish. There wasn’t anything really spectacular about it. It had a very slight pumpkin spice taste to it, but it was barely noticeable. There was a slight hops presence to add a little bitterness and flavor, but it had a pretty malty character to it. It was good, but about average. That was my first, of what I assume will be several, pumpkin beers this fall. I had only one last year and I want to say it was from Gritty McDuff, though it could’ve been Smuttynose. Whichever it was (I’ll be getting one of each of those this fall), it had a lot more pumpkin presence to it and was extremely good. Of the Brooklyn beers I’ve had, this was the lease impressive and most average. Next time I get beer, I’ll be sure to get a few pumpkin ales and maybe an oktoberfest or 2 (though I’m not as big a fan of the oktoberfests/marzens as I am of a good pumpkin ale). Tomorrow’s beer will likely be a brown ale (continuing with the Brooklyn beers I picked up).

2 Beers You Should Try…

I like beer, as can be seen by some of my previous posts and by the tagline of this blog. I am lucky to have Nikki’s Liquors nearby to fill my craft beer needs. I recently picked up 2 mix-a-6’s from Nikki’s with a bunch of beers I haven’t tried (and a couple favorites). I’m going to write about 2 of them. If you can find these beers at a package store nearby, you should try them. One is widely available, the other, I’m not so sure.

Anchor Porter, pretty widely available, is perhaps the best porter I have tried. It’s nicely carbonated, thick black, and all roasted malt with a slight bitterness to it. It’s about as perfectly porter as you can get before it becomes a stout. The only other porter I’ve had that was this good was Smuttynose’s Robust Porter. It’s very similar in flavor and thickness, with less carbonation. Both are amazing porters, both are a must try.

Oskar Blues Old Chub is an awesome Scottish style ale. It has a very carmel-y malty roasted chocolate flavor to it. It almost tastes like it was aged in oak barrels as it has that nice oak/whiskey flavor to it. I’ve had only a couple Scottish ales previously (from Sam Adams and Trinity Brewhouse). I’ve liked all that I’ve tried and this one was definitely the best of the 3. If you can find it, buy some. Don’t be put off by the can that it comes in. Cans do not equate to macro piss beer. In this case, it equates to a nice tastey powerful brew. At 8% abv, this isn’t for the lightweights (though one wouldn’t hurt…).

As I go through the rest of the beers in the mix, I’ll write more about them. Just for reference, the first 2 before these 2 were New England Brewing’s Sea Hag IPA, which also came in a can and, while good, was just your average IPA, and Victory’s HopDevil Ale, which is one of my favorite IPA’s (second only to Great Divide’s Titan IPA with Haverhill Brewery’s Leatherlips IPA coming in at a very very close third). Needless to say, my favorite style is the almighty IPA. Yes, I am a hophead.