The singularity holding the universe of craft beer together is personal preference, and it is important to know your own tastes so you can work to refine or expand them. In that spirit I’ve asked site co-founder and assistant editor Julie to write up a list of her five favorite beers.
I have always been a somewhat reluctant fan of craft beer. Never really a beer-drinker, I had avoided delving into the at times overwhelming craft beer world. Wine – or cocktails – was always my preference, but once I discovered there was more to beer than pale ales, IPAs, and hops I began to discover beers that I not only enjoyed but would seek out. My palate has developed tremendously in the year or two since I gave beer an honest shot, and I even find myself enjoying the occasional hoppy brew!
Saison Diego – Green Flash Brewery
I originally fell in love with the saison style with the Eagle Rock Brewery Ginger Saison and the Hangar 24/Golden Road collaboration saison Valentin– but since those two are hard to come by, or were simply a one-time brew, I gave the Green Flash a shot with the 2011 vintage (known then as Summer Saison). It is a dry, almost champagne-like saison with a spicy flavor of ginger and grains of paradise, and a hit of orange peel. One of my first beer favorites, it is only slightly bitter, and very refreshing. It is now known as Saison Diego, and while the newer bottles have a slightly different flavor, Beer of Tomorrow has confirmed with Green Flash that the recipe in 2012 has not changed and should be a good candidate for the cellar.
Point the Way IPA – Golden Road Brewery
I have historically not been a fan of any IPA, finding their bitterness too challenging. After several trips to Golden Road Brewery, I was finally coaxed into trying their flagship IPA, Point the Way, and I was pleasantly surprised by the IPA’s drinkability. The beer is a bit bitter and floral, but I find that it has been a great “gateway IPA” – I now regularly keep some cans in the fridge when I’m looking for a good, crisp and refreshing beer that isn’t too bitter, but bitter enough to help me learn to enjoy the bitterness in many other pale ales. You also gotta love the 16 ounce cans of super fresh Los Angeles beer!
Festina Peche – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
I didn’t want to include seasonal or hard to find beers in my top five, but I love Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche far too much to leave it off this list. Referred to as a “neo-Berliner Weisse”, the Festina Peche is a tart, but not too tart (see Golden Road’s Berliner Weisse) as the delicious flavor of peach skins mellow the tartness in the beer and enhance the character Berliner Weisse funk. I’m also a fan of fruit beers, which can sometimes get a bit sweet, but the Festina Peche has no such problem – it’s fruitiness blends nicely with the tart and cloudy beer. At $14 for a four pack, it is a special treat when the weather starts warming up.
Amarillo Pale Ale – Hangar 24 Brewery
Another unexpected addition to my list, as this pale ale is a bit outside my bitter comfort zone, but with a different flavor than the IPAs due to the Amarillo hops. A nice and more piney pale ale, it also has a bit of a cereal taste to it which seems to mellow out the bitterness to me in addition to some grapefruit background notes. A good training beer for someone who isn’t a huge fan of hoppy beers.
La Perouse White – Maui Brewing Company
I am a fan of the entire Maui Brewing Company line – Bikini Blonde and Mana Wheat topping my list behind the La Perouse White. This beer narrowly beats out Hangar 24’s Orange Wheat for my favorite wheat beer, but the overwhelming mandarin orange flavor had me sold on the first can. A really nice combination of bready/wheaty flavor combined with the essence of mandarin made this a favorite around the campfire for me, simply a mellow and refreshing beer that will be great when the weather really heats up.
That’s it for the Julie’s edition of the Fav-Five list, though it can and will change at any time as palates change or new wonderful beers are discovered. What are your thoughts on her picks?