The alcoholic, me, likes beers that have high ABV’s that are easy to drink / taste good. My choice beers are IPA’s. They provide enough alcohol to catch a nice buzz and have an acquired taste where I actually enjoy drinking them. I’ve learned that double IPA’s are too dangerous. I don’t like stouts. Pilsners are my definition of boring beer. I’ll drink lagers if they are available. I tend to stay away from fruit in my beer. I wouldn’t classify myself as an expert in this category, but I’ve had hundreds of different beers that at the very least, I know what I like.
Here are my 4 favorite breweries. My ranking is usually lopsided on 1 beer that I particularly enjoy and I find the rest of the line up well done.
I wanted to put a PA brewery on the list to represent my state. It was a tough decision between Troegs, Victory and Weyerbacher (sorry Yuengling). As much as I like Victory Hop Devil, I feel that Troegs Perpetual is the winning IPA. I bought a 12 pack over Christmas break and it was as smooth as I remembered it. Having a high 7.5 ABV, it drinks like a Bud Light. Troegs also brews the well known Mad Elf which is a guaranteed hangover. I’ve also gone long nights with the Troegenator and that’s a liability. The one aspect I notice about their beers are that they are drinkable and pack a punch.
Stone is a brewer from California and the predominant focus is on manly beer which is why I’m adding it to my favorites. Some brewers feel the need to cater to every taste and Stone just smashes the IPA’s. I’ve noticed their labels on the cans are upside down which I believe is because it becomes right side up when you drink it. Clever. The IPA is classic at this point and you’ll sometimes see the Ripper on tap. I’ve tried the various IPA’s and never say to myself that that one sucked. Stone has a quality oriented formula for IPA’s that isn’t wrong.
Founders has a beer called the All-Day IPA which I imagine is its most popular beer. Wisely using the notion of able to drink the beer “all-day”, it’s a perfect marketed IPA for the non light beer drinkers. Hailing from Grand Rapids, MI and the understanding that it can be found in almost every beer distributor around Pennsylvania, should be a testament to how good it is. As much credit as the All Day receives, I’m a firm believer that the Centennial is the best all around IPA. I would order this whenever available if bars carried it. It’s similar to the Perpetual in that it’s smooth and you don’t tire of it. That’s why I don’t like the fruity beers because after 1 I’m not into another. These I could drink 10 and not get tired. Ever.
I’ll be honest and say my experience with Russian River beers is limited. Sometimes I would be able to grab one at Jose Pistola’s or Monks, but it’s not like I see them at distributors. One claim to fame is Pliney the Elder and Younger. I’ve heard people will line up for these beers. I’ve drank the Elder on numerous occasions and it is a terrific beer. What I’ve found thoughz is that their beer called “The Blind Pig” is the smoothest damn beer I’ve had. I swear I could drink them until I feel off the stool. This brewery backs up the quality with high prices which keeps it away from the cheapskates and adds to the allure. I would say that the brewery lives up to the hype.
Honorable Mention – Bells, Great Lakes, Sierra Nevada, Fat Tire, Rouge, Victory
This is a hard category to judge and I could have added any number of these brewers into the top 4. I think the Bells Two Hearted is a top 10 beer but I haven’t had many of their other varieties. Great Lakes has the Burning River which is phenomenal but I rarely see the cases in these parts. I bought a shirt of the Rouge Dead Guy for how much I like that beer. So these 4 are the breweries that stand out to me as I don’t feel like I get let down. Yards, for instance, is a beer that never leaves me saying, “wow, I had a great beer”. So one of my main criteria is that impact factor which is different for everyone.