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Mmmm, beeeer: ratebeer.com
August 17, 2007 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Mmmm, beeeer: ratebeer.com The World's Worst Beers, Best Beers - 2007, find the top beers by category or region. Emphasis on craft brews. (See also the previously mentioned BeerAdvocate.com) Happy Friday, everyone!
posted by spock (91 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy fucking shit. If your beer gets a worse rating than "Coors Non-Alcoholic," it's time to atone for your sins and find a new line of work.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:34 AM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Note to self: Contact friend who recently started working as a brewer out at Three Floyds.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:35 AM on August 17, 2007


Oh yeah... mostly over-alcoholized Québec beers sweep pretty well positions 1 - 40 (!) in the "Canada" section.

Seems to me that survey's been cooked more than Guinness's barley.
posted by Mike D at 7:36 AM on August 17, 2007


Nice of them to work up this list: the 50 best beers that you might actually be able to find at the store and buy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:38 AM on August 17, 2007


Emphasis on craft brews.

No kidding. Of the top five, four are stouts.

Pilsner lovers, such as I, must have another site for rating their beer.
posted by three blind mice at 7:40 AM on August 17, 2007


Sites like this tend to attract people who love massively bitter double IPAs or insanely alcoholic Quadrupels. And if you're a fellow beer freak, you'll find these ratings dead-on. But if you're looking for a nice, refreshing lawnmower beer... these ratings may not be as helpful.

Think of it this way - if you're looking for a cheesy summer read, you don't want to visit a book rating site that's populated by Joyce and Burroughs fans.
posted by suckerpunch at 7:44 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, having been a long-time alcoholic beer drinker, it's odd to see their choices. A lot of stouts (which is good, I like stouts), but favoring novelty beers. Like, the Founder's Breakfast Stout is more Willy Wonka than refreshing; on some level it's impressive that they got it to go from the flavor of pancakes through bacon and coffee, but it's not good to have more than a couple sips of. Likewise, the Three Floyds tend to make their Imperial Stouts of a more bombastic character than is needed, and a lot of the bourbon-barrel aged beers are better as effete refreshment for the pretentious than they are as beer. It's kinda like how a lot of craft brewers got the message that since American macros are like white basketball (no hops), they should just overload theirs with hops to make up for it. Some people will buy it for the "extreme" flavor, but aside from that, they're kinda one note beers.
That's what makes the Dogfishhead 90 minute IPA so good— it's not really remarkable at all in flavor profile, but it's incredibly well balanced. It's just a damn fine beer, made by people who aren't in it for flash. Too bad it's insanely expensive.

And they left off my favorite brewery, the Great Lakes folks in Cleveland. Arguably the only good thing to come out of Ohio since Devo, their Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is to die for.
posted by klangklangston at 7:47 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice of them to work up this list: the 50 best beers that you might actually be able to find at the store and buy.

The site is more suited for suggesting good microbrews in your area, for example if you are ever in my neck-of-the-woods you might try Thunderhead Brewing's Espresso Stout (which won a Gold Medal at a Nat'l competition).

Use Google advanced search operators to enter a town/state and then limit the search to ratebeer.com, like this:

"Kearney, Nebraska" site:ratebeer.com

That will turn up a link to all Thunderhead beers that have been rated. Any site that includes ratings for Kearney, Nebraska is pretty darn comprehensive.
posted by spock at 7:48 AM on August 17, 2007


Plus, barleywine sucks. (Great Lakes did get on there with their Blackout Stout, which was a limited edition and, while good, probably not their best beer overall). It is nice to see Michigan so well represented.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 AM on August 17, 2007


Pilsner lovers, such as I, must have another site for rating their beer.

No, not really.
posted by spock at 7:51 AM on August 17, 2007


Ugh. One of the beers on the "50 best in my area" lists North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.

I tried this once. It tasted like rotten soy sauce. I had to put it at another table and cover it with a menu to dampen the smell of it. I still have nightmares about that beer.

I encourage all my enemies to try this beer. I'll be at the corner table, drinking my Guinness Extra Stout with a smug look on my face.
posted by sephira at 7:51 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Looking over the list, it seems like if your beer is an Imperial Stout, you get an automatic +1 rating point. While I enjoy the occasional Imperial, I can't help but think of a line from a Bud Light commercial - "Bud Light - Because Coffee Tastes Nasty After Volleyball". Imperial Stouts may be great beers to sit around and savor/brood over, I'm not sure they're really the Platonic Ideal of beer?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:55 AM on August 17, 2007


I really love beer, but I'm always a little disheartened that the beers that do best in beer-geek reviews are the enormously high-gravity Belgians and Imperial whatsits. I understand that brewers often spend more time crafting these big beers and that they can express a wide variety of flavors. But the flip side is that really great everyday beers are not only ignored, but dismissed, by these guys who review big beers so highly.

Where's the English bitter, the mild? Even your highly-hopped, relatively high-gravity American IPA often gets passed over for a something like a DFH 90-minute (which is a fine beer, but let's face it: drinking more than one is overkill). I just got back from Germany, so maybe the beer experience there is coloring this a little bit. It's hefeweizen and lager there all day long, and it's really refreshing to enjoy some small beers with actual flavor. Tough to find that at home.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:57 AM on August 17, 2007


"I encourage all my enemies to try this beer. I'll be at the corner table, drinking my Guinness Extra Stout with a smug look on my face."

Yeah, um... Guinness isn't the beer that you want to get smug about. It was great when there were no other stouts to try, but so was Coors until you could get it everywhere.
posted by klangklangston at 7:57 AM on August 17, 2007


My boyfriend and I went to the Czech Republic in July. We went to Ceske Budejovice and took the Budvar brewery tour. At the end we got samples straight out of the aging tanks. There is a God, and God loves us very much.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:02 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Surly beers here in the Minnesota are fantastic and seem to be sweeping the "Best beers" lists this year.


mmmmmmmmm beer.
posted by djseafood at 8:02 AM on August 17, 2007


Where's the English bitter, the mild?

I've never seen English bitter anywhere around Baltimore, and I've heard it doesn't travel well. You have to go to England for the real thing. I'm going to be very pleased if a lot of people jump in and deny this claim, especially if it leads me to some nice English bitter.

Thanks spock!!
posted by sidereal at 8:02 AM on August 17, 2007


Note to robocop: Introduce me to your friend who recently started working as a brewer out at Three Floyds.
posted by slogger at 8:03 AM on August 17, 2007


Am I reading this right, that they evidently didn't test any beers in the Czech Republic or Germany? Slight flaw in their methodology.
posted by creasy boy at 8:03 AM on August 17, 2007


There are "snobs" (loaded word, perhaps "connesseiurs" would be kinder) in any field. There are different beers for different situations. If you are going to be drinking/talking for an extended period you probably don't want a high alcohol brew, (if you want to be making sense for long). That's why they have "session beers". Similarly, if you just want to wet your whistle, you probably want a "lawnmower beer", not a Porter or a Stout.

Most American's, unfortunately, don't know the difference between a lager and an ale.
posted by spock at 8:04 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


You have to go to England for the real thing.

Or, you know, an American brewer could brew one instead of some malt- or hop-bomb.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:06 AM on August 17, 2007


"I've never seen English bitter anywhere around Baltimore, and I've heard it doesn't travel well. You have to go to England for the real thing. I'm going to be very pleased if a lot of people jump in and deny this claim, especially if it leads me to some nice English bitter."

There are plenty in Michigan— nearly every brewery makes an English-style bitter or brown (or red).
posted by klangklangston at 8:07 AM on August 17, 2007


There are plenty in Michigan— nearly every brewery makes an English-style bitter or brown (or red).

Damn you, Michigan! Us east coast folks have it a bit tougher, I think. (I'll admit that I don't spend enough time in my local craft beer store; any in particular that you recommend?)
posted by uncleozzy at 8:10 AM on August 17, 2007


klangklangston: in this particular area, Guinness is about the only thing you can be smug about and have half a reason to do so. Everyone else is drinking Bud Light.
posted by sephira at 8:10 AM on August 17, 2007


They have beers from the whole world.

To make use of the site, you basically have to make use of the style categories and the percentiles within the style, along with the text ratings, because of the whole "we love Double Imperial Belgian Quadrupels."

I still want to try the Westvleteren 12 though. It's pretty consistently #1, in spite of or because the monks making it don't give a shit and brew just enough to support the abbey.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:15 AM on August 17, 2007


I'm very pleased to see that the Aged Yeti Imperial Stout made the list of the best beers. That shit is amazing. On the other hand, Olde English is not worse than non-alcoholic Genesee. That's just ... I can't think of much of anything worse than that.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:19 AM on August 17, 2007


Bottled (as Læsø Ale 16). Lightly hazy reddish amber. Aroma of latex and paint. Rye bread meets phenol and sulphur. Sweet and powerful with burt bread, chemicals and alcohol in the finish.
posted by mazatec at 8:22 AM on August 17, 2007


slogger: Here's a picture (not mine - the only ones I have of him are either from my wedding or him passed out or both) of my Three Floyds contact - Third picture down, guy on the right. Steve's been brewing out of New England for the past several years (most recently at The Tap in Haverhill). Now that you know his face and name, all you really need to do is walk up to him, yell "Steve!", buy him a beer, and you're in. You can pretend you're an old friend (ask him about his grease-powered car) if you like, but he's a friendly guy so subterfuge is likely not needed.

Anyone can use this dread information to get their foot in the door!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:23 AM on August 17, 2007


You know, for those of you who are looking for a quality lawn mowing beer, sites like Ratebeer usually will offer ratings by style as well. So there's no excuse for not picking the best pilsner or lager for your weekly chores.

Guinness is fine for a default if you're in a place that serves swill like Bud, Miller, Coors, or if you're at a pub that really knows how to pour a proper pint. But I know prefer a more adventurous stout like Rogue's Shakespeare.
posted by Ber at 8:23 AM on August 17, 2007


What, no Labatt 50 on the worst beers list? That swill is a rite of passage up here. If you can murder a pitcher of 50, you're ready to drink anything. (OK, I see it got a 12 and a bunch of Americans actually liked it. That's about right.)

*thinks back fondly on high school trip to SAVE CANADA!! when I was 17, where teachers ordered pitchers of 50 for everyone at every stop*

Don't hate on the highly alcoholized Unibroue beauties, though. The Maudite alone (only 8%) is life-changing.
posted by maudlin at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2007


me: Pilsner lovers, such as I, must have another site for rating their beer.

spock: No, not really.

Not a single Czech beer on the list? Illogical. This list was not compiled by pilsner lovers, just stout drinkers who like to wash their palates between tastings of their heavy brews.
posted by three blind mice at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2007


Surly beers here in the Minnesota are fantastic and seem to be sweeping the "Best beers" lists this year.

I'm a little annoyed by that, actually. I like all of the varieties of Surly I've tried, and if it's on tap, I'll get it. But the craze for it is just overboard, and results in things like liquor stores charging $9 for a 4-pack of cans. And, well, fuck that.
posted by COBRA! at 8:31 AM on August 17, 2007


spock, you forgot the "oat soda" tag.

Experimentation is all well and good, but I want the beers I (brew and) drink to be halfway balanced. Much like klangklangston, I have to admit to being put off by the XTR3ME nature of a lot of the beers microbreweries and brewpubs are putting out lately. My local brewpub has, unfortunately, succumbed to this. Dude, that Quadrupel? Well, it tastes so cloyingly sweet it seems like you forgot to ferment it. And yeah, it's pretty amazing that your latest Double IPA hits 200 IBUs -- but it tastes like earwax. (Speaking of earwax, don't even get me started on one of New Belgium's latest offerings (self-link).) I find it ironic that the machismo that surrounds producing and imbibing absurdly hopped beers is undercut by the fairly well-known estrogenic effects of hops.

Regardless, yay beer!
posted by cog_nate at 8:35 AM on August 17, 2007


Rochester, NY has The Old Toad, an English-style pub mostly staffed by hospitality students from England. It often has a cask of Real Ale from England alongside local brews (in addition to regular draft beers and an extensive bottled selection). Although Real Ale isn't supposed to travel well, the one's I've tried at the Toad seem to be uniformly wonderful (Old Speckled Hen, mmmmm). They don't last long, of course.
posted by tommasz at 8:39 AM on August 17, 2007


cog_nate, that self-link is awesome. Excellent writing!
posted by spock at 8:52 AM on August 17, 2007


cog_nate: I see that you grow some hops. My wife actually expressed interest in planting some recently. We need to talk, dude!
posted by spock at 8:56 AM on August 17, 2007


I like me some hoppy beer, so I was happy to see Bear Republic's Racer 5 (though I like their Racer X - a strong ale, available only at the brew pub, where we went for my birthday so I could drink some - even more), and Lagunitas' Maximus and IPA.

Best beer I've ever had, though, was what I had in Czechoslovakia (back when it was still Czechoslovakia). I don't remember what it was called, but it was about 50 cents a pint and utterly divine.
posted by rtha at 9:08 AM on August 17, 2007


Yeah I'm with the extreme-microbrew haters. I really get very frustrated when I'm told that I have to try a certain beer because it's fantastic only to be served some hoppy mess pretending to be beer. Just because it's amazingly bitter doesn't make it good. This makes me long for the subtle flavors of a good English Bitter.

I am a huge fan of many of the old Belgian beers. This is as a result of living in the Netherlands for a few years and trying almost every one I could get my hands on (this included some amazingly drunk trips back from Belgium on the train.) I was disappointed that one of my very favorites Duchesse de Bourgogne isn't very highly rated, but then it's the kind of beer that you either love or hate (which I think is true of many Flemish Red Ales.)
posted by ob at 9:15 AM on August 17, 2007


Nice to see the Duck-Rabbit getting some love. Only thing I miss about moving to MN from NC was the Duck-Rabbit. I discovered it just before we moved, damn.

On the upside, I'm in Surly country now and close enough to MI to be able to pick up Bell's again. Have a sixer of TwoHearted in the fridge right now. Plus some Cherry Porter.

...and a 4-pack of Dogfish Head IPA was a gift to me from a friend upon completing my PhD. Well, since he was still there at the time it was more like a 3-pack, but I can't drink one and not give a bottle to the guy who gifted it to me in the first place, right?

I've actually been to the Two-Hearted river (Big, and Little). Got stuck in the sand trying to find the mouth of the Big. Note to future visitors: Roads in are solid sand. You need 4WD. Don't take a Dodge Astrovan off-road. You have been warned.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:19 AM on August 17, 2007


spock, yeah, my dad and I planted a few Cascade rhizomes several years ago. (We planted a couple Centennial rhizomes, too, but they died.) They're easy to grow. The plants aren't watered or given any care aside from spring rhizome and summer bine thinnings, but grow like mad and will regularly produce more than a pound of fresh hops per season. I brew with a couple other guys, and just a month or so ago we made a big batch of all-homegrown fresh hop Cascade pale ale. Pretty good.

Best piece of advice I can give to anyone interested in growing their own is to read The Homebrewer's Garden. spock, if you want cuttings or whatever, shoot me an e-mail and we'll figure something out.
posted by cog_nate at 9:25 AM on August 17, 2007


I have only begun discovering the Belgian styles but the best beer I've personally had is Thunderhead's Belgian Dubbel. In the bottle, I also really like Chimey Red Label (which using RateBeer.com I just discovered is also a Dubbel. Hmmm. At least my palate is being consistent!) Do yourself a favor and get a sixpack or 500ml bottle (image here). I prefer it to the Chimay blue label (Grandé Reserve) which is a Belgian Strong Ale and is a little "floral" for my tastes. I've never had (or even seen) the Chimay white label, which is a Belgian Trippel.
posted by spock at 9:29 AM on August 17, 2007


Crikey, I can't spell "Belgian".
posted by spock at 9:30 AM on August 17, 2007


Also must add I love reading wine or beer tasting reviews. Stuff like "Notes of leather, dust, winesap apples followed by chocolate and strawberries..." that kind of stuff. Really. Perhaps I simply have an unrefined palate, or perhaps I just don't go around tasting leather often enough to identify it amidst the other flavors garbled into the beer, but goddamn - I either like how it tastes or I'm unhappy with it. I realize we must go beyond rating a beer as skunked vs. bitter vs. smooth, but that kind of thing just seems like pretension for the sake of pretensiousness (is that even a word?). If you really taste the leather, good for you. Me, I just taste the beer, and I'm happy so long as it doesn't suck.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2007


"What, no Labatt 50 on the worst beers list? That swill is a rite of passage up here. If you can murder a pitcher of 50, you're ready to drink anything. (OK, I see it got a 12 and a bunch of Americans actually liked it. That's about right.)"

Man, I miss Labatt. And they want $9.50 for a six of MOLSON at the local Albertson's. Though Labatt does screw Americans out of a half-ounce of beer in every bottle. But the closest to a good session beer around here is Negro Modelo. Makes me cry.

I've gotta find some homebrewers around here. I bailed on the place called Good Beer (or brewery or something) because it looked like it was gonna be a wash of pretention at $6 a pint.

I wonder how hard it would be to brew in my apartment. I mean, pretty much straight ales with no lagering...

I also have to find out where my buddy Joe Walts is working. Some brewery up in Vermont now, after working in Madison (I think at Glaurus, but I don't recall). He makes some damn fine beer, but I'll bet that shipping costs are insane...
posted by klangklangston at 9:55 AM on August 17, 2007


If you really taste the leather, good for you. Me, I just taste the beer, and I'm happy so long as it doesn't suck.

It's not that pretentious. Saying a beer or food tastes like an inedible object generally means that tasting the beer reminds you of smelling the inedible object. The Germans make a Rauchbier that tastes like a campfire, in a good way. Fraoch, a Scotch ale made with heather instead of hops, tastes like flowers (as does monofloral honey).
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:03 AM on August 17, 2007


caution live frogs - there is a ton of pretension and one-upsmanship that goes into identifying flavors... but that doesn't mean that it can't be (yet another) fun pastime. I remember killing a bottle of a Spanish red with some friends one night, and we sat around trying to come up with the right way to describe the taste. We could have said 'noted of leather, dust, etc.', but instead, my friend Brian said 'it tastes like old men in leather chairs'. And you know what? He was right.

Point being, like I said, this can be fun, the same sort of fun anyone who's ever scribbled teenage poetry in a spiralbound notebook can have. Can I describe something in a way that anyone can understand? Jesus could change water into wine, but can I change wine into language? And can I do it without being a dick about it?
posted by suckerpunch at 10:03 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


How come Læsø Ale 16 gets a zero on the worst beer page and a 2.73 when you click through to the page devoted to it? Sure, I've had a few beers (it's 7 pm here in Sweden, dontcha know) so I might have missed a memo, but still.

Anyway, I'm really, really thankful Nils Oscar India Ale gets some nice reviews. That ale is taaastyyy. Nils Oscar used to operate near me but then they moved to the south and that "hometown pride in a bottle" went away. Still, tasty, though!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 10:11 AM on August 17, 2007


Oh yeah... mostly over-alcoholized Québec beers sweep pretty well positions 1 - 40 (!) in the "Canada" section.

Seems to me that survey's been cooked more than Guinness's barley.


Dem's fightin' words.

/Really annoyed because local beer store only stocks Unibroue stuff sporadically. Where's my La Fin du Monde?!
posted by Zinger at 10:13 AM on August 17, 2007


I wonder how hard it would be to brew in my apartment. I mean, pretty much straight ales with no lagering...
I used to make 5 gallon all-grain batches in a NYC studio apartment, so you can probably find a way. The best beer is the beer you make yourself!
posted by exogenous at 10:14 AM on August 17, 2007


To anyone who is intrigued by the Westvleteren 12 that consistently sits at the top of these lists, but isn't about to travel to Belgium to get it: Buy St. Bernardus Abt 12 instead, because it's the same beer and it's probably available somewhere near you.

Until 1992, when Belgium made its own appellee controllee law regarding trappist products (your product can't claim to be trappist unless it was made on the grounds of a trappist monestary), Westvleteren was called St. Sixtus and was brewed by the St. Bernardus brewery 20km away. In 1992, because the "trappist" label was so valuable, the monks at St. Sixtus set up their own small brewhouse and renamed the beer Westvleteren, after the town where the monestary is located. Since then the monks' tiny facility hasn't been able to keep up with demand, and scarcity has led to the hype of being the best beer in the world. But meanwhile St. Bernardus is still making the same beer without the "trappist" label as the Abt 12.

In short, the difference between the two beers is that Westvleteren is brewed in small batches by monks and St. Bernardus is brewed in large batches by the brewers who created the recipe and have been perfecting it for 60+ years. I've had both fresh, and can say the difference is subtle.

ps. although we Americans tend to assume kegged beer is better, that isn't the case here. Kegged St. Bernardus misses out on the last phase of fermentation (bottle conditioning), and as a result tends to be sweeter, heavier and not as complex. Drink from a chalice at cellar temperature for best results.
posted by tsmo at 10:24 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: some opinions on homebrewing in a small apartment.

I'm a newbie extract brewer, but I'd definitely encourage trying it. My first effort was an Amber Ale kit that (after the proper aging of 5-6 weeks) tasted every bit as good as Fat Tire on tap (if perhaps a bit less hoppy since I was boiling 3 gallons and adding 2 gallons of water to make my 5 gallons.

Two recommendations: If there is a brew club in your area, look them up. There is an annual "Teach a friend to brew day" but most homebrewers are extremely helpful to newbies. Most club meetings involve sampling each other's "work" which is nice (and educational) too!

Secondly, check out Basic Brewing Radio episodes. Lots and lots of good info there. He has some interesting episodes on MICROBATCH brewing (less than the normal 5 gallons). Whether that is a good idea or a waste of time depends upon your perspective. You can get into this hobby very deeply, but the basics are pretty simple. Cleanliness is key.
posted by spock at 10:26 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I used to make 5 gallon all-grain batches in a NYC studio apartment, so you can probably find a way.

Yeah I know a few guys who make beer in very small places (oh god, that didn't come out quite right). As you say lager is harder because you need cool conditions, but as long as you have good water and sanitary conditions you should be fine. Oh and these homebrews have been very good indeed. I'd make my own but my brother-in-law is a brewer so I might as well let him do all the work...
posted by ob at 10:29 AM on August 17, 2007


Most awesome post. This one looks interesting.

What luck! My local (government controlled and highly profitable) LCBO has seven cases in stock. Yippee! Wooh hoo!
posted by disgruntled at 10:37 AM on August 17, 2007


PS... there is an article on "Small Scale Brewing" in the current issue of Brew Your Own magazine by Basic Brewing Radio's James Spencer:
Sometimes scaling down your brewing efforts can scale up your enthusiasm. Homebrew can be made in smaller batches than 5 gallons (19 L) and we give you the how, why and when to brew efficiently at a reduced scale.
posted by spock at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


You Twin Cities Mn folks should pop up to Duluth and try the beers at the Brewhouse at some point, got a decent range from light to heavy. As well if you can find it down in the cities The beer coming out of South Shore Brewery from Ashland WI is worth a sip or two.
posted by edgeways at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2007


Mmmm... beer. It's what's for dinner!
posted by ramix at 10:53 AM on August 17, 2007


I like my beer like I like my partners: Strong, smooth and stout or sweet, Belgian and blonde.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:53 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whenever I get the temperature control to turn my old chest freezer into a lager fermenter, I'd like to find a clone recipe for a good lawnmower beer: The Aussie's Hahn's Premium

I don't think you can even get it in the U.S. but I sure enjoyed it when I was down under. Plus, they make some hilarious TV commercials.
posted by spock at 11:01 AM on August 17, 2007


"Really annoyed because local beer store only stocks Unibroue stuff sporadically. Where's my La Fin du Monde?!"

Unibroue's good for MyFirstBlotto drinkers, but it's like, the most unsubtle Belgians you can find. All of 'em seem to be ladled full of cloying; it was because of them that I thought that I hated Belgians for a long time.

(One of the funny conversations I had when I was covering the homebrew club for my old rag was this guy who'd just flown back from Belgium with all this beer, absolutely frantic about the EU regulations that were going to make the monks clean and cover all of the gutters that they used to move the beer around. He was seriously professing that the spiders and roof junk was all mostly filtered out, but was an integral part of the taste.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 AM on August 17, 2007


This post needs an image tag.
posted by spock at 11:10 AM on August 17, 2007


FUCK THAT SHIT! PABST BLUE RIBBON!
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:22 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


You Twin Cities Mn folks should pop up to Duluth and try the beers at the Brewhouse at some point, got a decent range from light to heavy.

Fitgers' you mean? Good stuff. I have one of their "adventure growlers," but I can never get it filled because I always pass through Duluth on Sundays on the way back from camping trips, and they won't sell take-home liquor on Sunday. Stupid blue laws.
posted by COBRA! at 11:26 AM on August 17, 2007


To follow up on spock's comment, here's a list of US homebrew clubs, organized by state.

Regarding Belgian beers, most of Unibroue's beers are a tich too sweet and boozy for my tastes; despite that, I think Trois Pistoles is pretty good (so spicy). Also, Ommegang makes some fine beers -- Hennepin is fantastic.

Me and a brewing buddy recently made a cherry-infused Saison that was targeting Wisconsin Belgian Red. It's tasty in its own right, but nowhere close to what New Glarus makes.
posted by cog_nate at 11:32 AM on August 17, 2007


MC flies his freak flag proudly!
: )
posted by spock at 11:33 AM on August 17, 2007


This is a great post and thread, by the way.
posted by cog_nate at 11:35 AM on August 17, 2007


Refreshingly great,
Alcoholic beverage,
Drink away the week.

Relax in the sun,
Cool, crisp pint in grateful hand,
Half-pints are for girls.

Belgium, German, are
all good, Fosters though is shit!
Australian crap.

They come smooth, strong, dark,
Blonde, sweet or stout, such wide choice,
Pissed? Such a lightweight!

So here is to beer,
Thank god it's fucking Friday,
Raise your glass and cheers!
posted by fuckyouhaiku at 11:48 AM on August 17, 2007


FUCK THAT SHIT! PABST BLUE RIBBON!

Ah, PBR. Won the blue ribbon in 1882; hasn't won anything since.
posted by sephira at 12:05 PM on August 17, 2007


sephira it was 1893, get it right.
posted by philcliff at 12:10 PM on August 17, 2007


Whatever, I can't be bothered with facts. My statement still stands.
posted by sephira at 12:25 PM on August 17, 2007


Man, I miss Labatt.

As a Canadian, I can't think of any legitimate reason for anyone anywhere to say such a thing.

I suggest you take two cases of Mill Street Stock Ale (a first-rate lawnmowing beer that actually tastes like something) and call me in the morning - when your head won't hurt like it would if you'd been drinking that adulterated Labatt swill.
posted by gompa at 12:41 PM on August 17, 2007


This seems a lot to me like if you had no one but guitarists rating the best guitar songs. You'd probably get a decent rating within individual genres, but there'd be way too much Dragonforce and Yngvie Malmsteen at the top of the overall list.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:55 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is a great little exposé on what makes a great "session beer" (via)

Subject: Re: Concept of "Session Beer"

Alexandre Enkerli wrote from Moncton, NB, Canada:

>After googling a bit for explanations, I thought I'd ask the collective.
>So, what are the "limits" of a session beer?

Great question! One that deserves to to be discussed, like all matters of great moment, over a few pints.

Lacking that opportunity, I'll make a quick stab at what a session beer should be for me.

If you were to a search for ["session beer" "Michael Jackson"] or ["session beer" "Roger Protz"] (two top British beer writers), you'd get a feel for what I think a session beer should be, because, as you note, this is a distinctively British term.

When two or more Brits gather in their local for a session, they expect everyone to stand a round, or two, or three. So if four of them get together, they may end up drinking multiples of fours - that's pints, each, at 568 ml each.

So a session beer should be inviting, easy drinking, low in alcohol, non-satiating.

Miller Lite's slogan "Tastes great, less filling" is not a bad start, but Lite is not, to my mind, a session beer. It fails on the first criterion - it isn't inviting. An inviting beer leaves a lingering flavor that invites another swallow.

This is related to easy drinking. A session beer has enough flavor to enjoy but not so much to be distracting. Every once in a while, you should stop after a swallow and say to yourself, "Damn, this is a good beer." But you shouldn't be tempted to meditate on it. You've got important things to talk about with your mates besides beer, even though beer may be one of the topics.

It should be interesting enough to be boringly tiresome, but not so strong in flavor to fatigue your palate, either. It shouldn't be served so cold your taste buds are numbed.

A session beer should be moderate enough in body that it is not satiating, and should be low in carbonation so it doesn't fill you up with gas.

Easy drinking is not enough, though. I remember, albeit somewhat hazily, a wonderful keg of Reissdorf Koelsch at a picnic that was perilously easy to drink. However, by the end of the afternoon, I felt like someone had stolen the bones in my legs.

A session beer should be low enough in alcohol to encourage conversation but not tangle your tongue. You should be able to stand up at the table and say, "This is my round. What are you drinking?" and make it back from the bar holding four pints and not spill a drop on your shoes. Or at least not much. You should be able to still play a good game of darts or skittles or shove ha'penny.

At the end of the evening you should be able to walk home (it's a local, remember?) without falling into the canal. You should wake the next morning from a refreshing night of sleep and feel fine.

There is only one beer that fills all these criteria for me - British (or British-style) cask conditioned ordinary bitter (though an argument can be made for mild). An ideal session beer for me would be a medium amber (for complexity) bitter of about 1.037 original gravity (~3.7% ABV), hopped in the low to mid 30's, preferably dry-hopped.

The Brits pack a lot of flavor into a beer like this. Part of this is in the brewing and part of it is that it has low carbonation and served at cellar temperature.

I think that there are some low gravity German beers (schankbier) that are also served from casks at cellar temperatures and with low carbonation that would qualify, but I am not familiar with them. So, for me, I'm a bitter man.

posted by spock at 1:40 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bronze Age Irishmen were as fond of their beer as their 21st century counterparts
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on August 17, 2007


Unibroue isn't Belgian, it's a brewery in Quebec.
posted by Flashman at 3:36 PM on August 17, 2007


Also, this website is useless. The beer one I mean. Metafilter's o.k.
posted by Flashman at 3:39 PM on August 17, 2007


...beers imported into the US as rated by American D&D and model train enthusiasts
posted by Flashman at 3:44 PM on August 17, 2007


Yes, Flashman, but Unibroue brews beers in the Belgian style— sweet and alcoholic, with bottle fermentation. While not all of their beers are the classic "Belgian" (dubbel or tripel), they're all pretty clearly influenced by the style. And also about as far into the "Dude, this is like, a wicked 11% abv beer! Woo! Let's get tanked!" end of Belgians, generally lacking any grounding in tartness or bitterness to move them away from the overwhelming fruitiness.

Some people like 'em, I guess, but like all things that other people like and I don't, those people are yokels. As opposed to when everyone else doesn't like it and I do, which is evidence of my refined tastes.
posted by klangklangston at 4:17 PM on August 17, 2007


"I encourage all my enemies to try this beer. I'll be at the corner table, drinking my Guinness Extra Stout with a smug look on my face."

Yeah, um... Guinness isn't the beer that you want to get smug about. It was great when there were no other stouts to try, but so was Coors until you could get it everywhere.


Agreed. Only have a smug look on your face if you're drinking Guinness in a room full of Miller Lite drinkers.

There are "snobs" (loaded word, perhaps "connesseiurs" would be kinder) in any field. There are different beers for different situations. If you are going to be drinking/talking for an extended period you probably don't want a high alcohol brew, (if you want to be making sense for long). That's why they have "session beers". Similarly, if you just want to wet your whistle, you probably want a "lawnmower beer", not a Porter or a Stout.

Most American's, unfortunately, don't know the difference between a lager and an ale.


A lager is not necessarily lighter than an ale, and vice versa. There are only three types of beers: ales, lagers, and lambics. They are categorized by the fermentation process. Everything else is a "beer style."

Ah, PBR. Won the blue ribbon in 1882; hasn't won anything since.

Not true. It's won the gold medal at the Great American Beer festival in the American Lager category for the last two years. It's one of the biggest beer festivals in the states.


Unibroue isn't Belgian, it's a brewery in Quebec.


It's not Belgian, but it's a Belgian style.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:27 PM on August 17, 2007


Mes apologies. I just read the comments, then I went and looked at the citations re: unibroue where they are described as 'Belgian'. Guess I should have rtfa. But seriously, stuff like Fin du Monde and La Maudite, I guess in small quanitities it's potable (and potent), but it's a whole different thing than your good 'session' beer, that you can actually sit and enjoy a few pints of.
And to expand on what I posted above the fact that not one of Big Rock's beers cracks the top 50 in Canada (behind 49 Quebec micro and macrobreweries, and one from Waterloo), and the fact that a Sleeman product* is the 5th worst beer in the world, entirely invalidates these beer rankings.
For me.

*who are far from my favourite brasserie, but i refuse to believe they could pump out a worse beer than e.g. Olde English 440
posted by Flashman at 4:38 PM on August 17, 2007


A friend sent this to me the other day and it seems appropriate:

Our lager,
Which art in barrels,
Hallowed be thy drink.
I will be drunk, my beer will be done
At home and in the tavern.
Give us this day our foamy head,
And forgive us our spillages,
As we forgive those who spill upon us.
And lead us not into incarceration,
But deliver us from hangovers.
For thine is the beer. The ale and the lager
Forever and ever,
Barmen.
posted by ob at 5:06 PM on August 17, 2007


Some people like 'em, I guess,

I like La Fin Du Monde, although I admit it's for the buzz, but it's a different buzz than any other beer buzz. It's nearly narcotic, kind of.
posted by jonmc at 6:02 PM on August 17, 2007


Some people like 'em, I guess,

I like La Fin Du Monde, although I admit it's for the buzz, but it's a different buzz than any other beer buzz. It's nearly narcotic, kind of.


Dunno about that, but then again I don't drink for the buzz... I just happen to like that particular beer with a couple of meal recipes I use as standards around here.

As to someone else's comments about the LCBO... well it may well be profitable, but that's a good thing, and because of it's tremendous buying power (I think I read somewhere that it was the biggest single purchasing unit in the world), we enjoy some mighty low prices, especially when it comes to imported wine.
posted by Zinger at 6:18 PM on August 17, 2007


Actually, tonight I'm drinking Schlitz, because my new job dosen't pay much and a 12-pack of Schlitz is only a buck more than a 6-pack of Bud at the supermarket, and as cheap suds goes, Schlitz is OK.
posted by jonmc at 6:39 PM on August 17, 2007


You Twin Cities Mn folks should pop up to Duluth and try the beers at the Brewhouse at some point, got a decent range from light to heavy.

I have worshiped up at the Fitger's Brewhouse a few times, great ales. I understand the brewer there used to work for one of the big West Coast micros but decided to come home to MN.

We've got a wealth of solid craft brewers in this state and the number is actually growing again: Lake Superior, Summit, Schell's, Flat Earth, Surly... Plus Bells from Michigan and Capital from Wisconsin can be found all over. And we've got three brewpubs in the Cities worthy of following in Sherlock's Home's footsteps: Barley John's, Great Waters, and the Town Hall. A good era for beer in the Land of the Sky Blue Waters.
posted by Ber at 6:57 PM on August 17, 2007


Count me in with the snob-haters.

The priorities of this contest are whacked. I don't understand how Dale's Pale Ale (from Oskar Blues) can come in at #295 for American beers. I've been buying cases of it for months, and it's often missing at my local Whole Foods when other beers haven't even been touched.

And don't even get me started about how Terminal Gravity IPA isn't even on the list. It is golden velvet in a glass. It almost makes me miss the west coast.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:48 PM on August 17, 2007


In the US they gave 500 beers gold ratings.

How is that supposed to be at all helpful?

Basically, wherever you are, order the beer you've never heard of. That' is probably on the top 500 list.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:06 PM on August 17, 2007


I wonder how hard it would be to brew in my apartment. I mean, pretty much straight ales with no lagering...

Should work fine, I've done it on a pretty large scale (20 gals) in a dorm room. 5 gals in an apartment is a piece of cake. Starting off, go with the lightest ales you can find. Lighter, low alcohol beers require less bottle aging (about a week should be ok). The dubbels and trippels that you're talking about up there can take months. Locate a copy of Papazian's book. Find a good homebrew supply store - yes, you can save money by doing mailorder, but the guys that run these places are the ultimate beer geeks, and they have all the answers. (And liquid yeast doesn't ship well, anyway.) Impatience is your worst enemy - the easiest way to make bad homebrew is to open it too early. Oh yeah, that and sterilization. Bleach works (if on a budget), but requires a lot of rinsing. TSP's a lot easier to use.
posted by swell at 9:35 PM on August 17, 2007


Adding to swell's advice, here's an online "book": How to Brew. (Beginners need only Sections 1 & 2). And a sane article on sterility called Not Exactly Sterile.
posted by spock at 10:41 PM on August 17, 2007


OK, OK, Which one of us just bought a sixer of number 1 on the list off of eBay for $51 + $40 S/H?
posted by HyperBlue at 7:33 AM on August 18, 2007


The priorities of this contest are whacked.

I think that's why everyone's getting annoyed. It is not a contest. All that page is is the list of the beers which, over years of getting rated, have had the lowest ratings.

No committee gathered to form the list; it's just the results of a query on ratebeer's ratings database.

(And that's why interesting Belgians top session beers in the top-beers lists, too; they're more interesting to review. Again, not a statement that Belgians are better than session ales; just a statement that of the ratebeer.com ratings, those Belgians got high ones.)
posted by mendel at 10:16 AM on August 18, 2007


Bears eat man at beer festival
posted by exogenous at 9:07 AM on August 20, 2007


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