It’s been a little over a year since I shared a new post about the beauty that is beer and much has changed in the last 12 months. As usual, I have been regularly trying out and discovering new brews at my favorite local beer and wine spot. But, I have also explored quite a few departures from my normal cravings at a variety of alternate breweries, dives, and even a beer tasting. In my first “Beer That Tastes Good” writeup I described seven fruit-ales and witbiers that I thought could convert a non-beer drinker from cringing at the thought of even smelling a lager to craving a crisp hard cider or a nice lime-infused classic. Well, all of you beer haters and enthusiasts out there, I’ve got five more great brews that you may or may not have known about. So whether you are the occasional drinker, the beer fanatic, or don’t drink at all you’re going to want to read this.
1. Blue Moon – Winter Abbey Ale (Winter Seasonal)
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 5.6%
Blue Moon’s Winter Abbey Ale is sweetly superb and after tasting it, I can definitely see why they brand it as a winter seasonal ale. It is “…[crafted]…with roasted malts and dark Belgian Candi sugar for rich caramel and toffee notes.” (Source) This makes for a beautiful, porter-esque ale that sweetens the moment subtly and smoothly and readies your epidermis for those cold winter nights. It’s almost like melting down some of the best flavors in a candy bar and serving them up in liquid form. The hints of dark chocolate, caramel, and toffee prove to be quite the confectionary concoction when paired with the Mittelfruh hops finish. This combination of great ingredients results in a delicious aftertaste, a rarity in most beers. On a cold winter night, this “chestnut brown-colored ale…” is definitely a fun, feel-good kind of drink. Just be sure to drink responsibly and don’t allow the sugary sweetness to take you over your limit.
2. Shiner – Holiday Cheer (Winter Seasonal)
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 5.4%
I must say Spoetzl Brewery has outdone itself with its winter seasonal brew, “Holiday Cheer”. Prior to tasting this delectable drink, I was not prepared for the “awesomeness” that would accompany that first sip and every sip thereafter. This stuff should be in the holy grail of amazing beers. Trust me, it’s in mine. “Holiday Cheer” is brewed with peaches, roasted pecans, malted barley and wheat and in the spirit of holiday cheer, Shiner brings a beer that actually makes you smile with excitement after every sip. It’s peach subtlety and hints of nuttiness and brown sugar just makes you feel all warm and happy inside like you’ve just drank a fun beer. And guess what? If there’s “Holiday Cheer” in your system you have. I could probably down a six-pack of this stuff in one sitting, it’s so tasty. But, finding a six pack is incredibly difficult. It tends to sell out quickly and with it only around for a couple of months, you’re going to need to put your order in early for next winter season. Let’s hope you do so that you too may appreciate “Holiday Cheer” as much as I do.
3. Shiner – Prickly Pear (Summer Seasonal)
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 4.90%
Shiner has really made an impression on me with their “Prickly Pear” Lager. This liquid gem only comes in Shiner’s family (variety) six and twelve packs and me being the beer conossieur, I always like to try variety packs of beer. So I bought the family reunion six-pack and the “Prickly Pear” definitely provided a pleasant surprise. “Prickly Pear” is brewed with none other than the juice of the prickly pear fruit – a cactus native to Shiner, Texas – and “Citra and US Golding hops”. (Source) This combination creates an aromatic brew that carries a semi-sweet subtlety with hints of apple and mild “hoppy” (bitter) taste. The level of sweetness in this beer is not as apparent as many other Weiss style ales, but I think that’s what makes it unique. It is sweet enough to be enjoyable and never overwhelming. Like the aforementioned brews, this too is a seasonal beer. But, “Prickly Pear” is usually only sold during the summer between the months of July and September. So if you’re looking for a craft beer that is light, refreshing and easy to drink during a hot summer day, I highly recommend Shiner’s “Prickly Pear” to quench your beer thirst.
4. Magic Hat – Elder Betty (Summer Seasonal)
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 5.5%
For those unfamiliar with Magic Hat, I can tell you that they make some of the best and most eccentric brews I have ever tasted. So of course there was no exception when it came to their summer seasonal “Elder Betty,” A play on the word elderberry which is the sweet fruit they use for this delightful concoction. Elder Betty is exactly what summer should be: fun and exciting. It delivers not just a sweet aroma after popping the top, but a taste that matches its aromatic caliber. For those like me who love Weiss style ales, you’re definitely going to enjoy this one. It has light, tart, and sugary qualities that blend well with the warm summer breeze or the rainy effect of late spring. Magic hat did everything right with this brew. The “… touch of hops” combined with the light wheat and light elderberry fruit fuse to formulate a beautiful brew that should be enjoyed by beer enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. (Source) I just wish I could compare the taste of the elderberry to another fruit to give you a more distinct flavor profile. But, after sipping “Elder Betty” you will realize it’s taste is truly unique and unforgettable. So go grab an “Elder Betty,” available April 1 to July 31 and revel in the experience.
5. Wild Blue – Premium Blueberry Lager
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 8%
Now, you may have noticed this beer has the highest percentage of alcohol by volume out of all the beers I have ever reviewed. And that whopping eight percent definitely holds true to this brews power. “Wild Blue” is what I like to call a sleeper. A sleeper is an alcoholic beverage that initially doesn’t create a buzz effect. But, within five to ten minutes of finishing a bottle, the buzz swoops in and you’ve gone from sober to a quarter past tipsy. In other words, lightweight drinkers should only enjoy a half to one full bottle and then call it quits. Being a beer enthusiast for almost eight years, I consider my drinking ability to be pretty good. But even I can’t take down a six-pack of this stuff in one sitting and that is for two reasons. Reason 1: That eight percent alcohol content gets you. Reason 2: This combination of all-natural blueberry syrup, two- and six-row barley malt, classic Aroma Hops and German hops weighs heavy on the stomach. The blueberry syrup makes this drink the thickest brew I have ever consumed. (Yes, even thicker than Guiness.) But the drinks thickness is only a minor setback on your path to blueberry wasted. (Note to reader: Don’t get blueberry wasted. You WILL wake up with a hangover the next day.) “Wild Blue” is a potent fruit elixir crafted for the blueberry enthusiasts palate. Although I really do enjoy this beer and it is brewed year-round, its potency and its strong blueberry overtone makes it more of a seasonal brew for me and I have to drink it sparingly. But, for all of you blueberry lovers out there, go wild!
This concludes my latest writeup of beers that actually taste good. For those who enjoy any beers that aren’t on one of my lists, please feel free to write your own review on something you enjoy and share it with me. I’d love to read about your beer selection. For those who haven’t yet read my first review, click here and enjoy.