Thursday, April 17, 2008

Commentary: The New World Order Of Beer

Like other rural Iowans I've long been a domestic light beer guy, Bud, Miller, Coors, the brews pumped from fraternity kegs and found in the growing number of walk-in coolers we seem to have around Carroll.

But as I've traveled to major brew pub Meccas, the Denver area, Seattle and much of the Northwest and even some spots in New England, I've learned that there is what one could call "A New World Order of Beer."

Sitting atop this world is the Fort Collins, Colorado-brewed Fat Tire. That's right, Fat Tire, not flat tire, the latter being what most everyone mistakenly calls this ale before they take their first taste.

In short, we've come a long way since the days of daddy's Pabst.

The following is the ranking my Top 10 Beers -- "The New World Order Of Beer." Please comment liberally about my choices and tell me what I am missing or where I am wrong in the feeback section.

1. Fat Tire

Next to the mountains and skiing it's one of the best reasons to go to Colorado. Fat Tire is from Fort Collins' New Belgium Brewing. Here's what the company has to say about it: "Fat Tire Amber Ale's appeal is in its feat of balance: Toasty malt flavors coasting in equilibrium with crisp hoppiness."

2. Hazed and Infused

Another Colorado beer, this one from Boulder. It is hop, hop, hopping good, and has perhaps the coolest labeling of any beer you'll see. I saw a bartender at a wedding take the last two bottles of this and hide if for himself.

3. Stella Artois

Classy pour from Belgium. I've ordered it in some Iowa restaurants. If you have three of these a decent bartender will let you order the fourth by yelling "Stella!" a la Brando.

4. Goose Island Honker's Ale

Chicago's Goose Island Brewery accurately says "combines a spicy hop aroma with a rich malt middle to create a perfectly balanced ale that is immensely drinkable. A smooth, drinkable English Bitter for those looking for more from their beer."

5. Avalanche

Can you tell Colorado is known for its beer? Breckenridge Brewery says this about its best: "Aromas of pale grains, a semi-sweet middle and a clean-as-Colorado-snow finish make this our best-selling beer."

6. Harpoon

A Boston beer. They drink this stuff from the tap at the Crow's Nest, a bar north of Boston made famous in the movie "Perfect Storm." Need I say more. The Ale and the IPA are equally good.

7. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

No false advertising from the company of the same name which tells us: "It has a deep amber color and an exceptionally full-bodied, complex character. Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor."

8. Pacifico

This is a smooth tasting Mexican beer not plagued with the after-taste of some of its rivals. Worth drinking even if you don't have a plate of burritos in front of you.

9. Mac and Jack's African Amber Ale

This beer is extremely popular in Seattle, and for good reason. Nice smooth Ale made brewed in Redmond, Wash.

10. Dogfish head

Just had this recently in Brookyln, N.Y. It comes from Delaware, having started as a beach beer and moved on to production at Milton, Del. Pace yourself as the calorie count is much, much higher than your regular light beer.

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