There they are in all their glory. Simultaneously hideous and wonderful. They're your best friend and your worst enemy. Or maybe they're just really good beers, what the hell do I know.
I guess I will kind of sort of rank these in order of just how obsessed I currently am with them. So coming in at #5 we have:
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock brewed by Brauerei Heller-Trum/Schlerkerla in Germany. Oh yes, since I discovered the Rauchbier style of brew a few years back at Max's German Beer Fest I was in love. It's like drinking liquid beef jerky. An unparalleled beer to pair with all things barbecue. Yum.
#4. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron brewed by Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware. I took a shot in the dark when I picked this one up from my local beer emporium and boy did it pay off! I have no idea how the devious geniuses at Dogfish manage to hide 12% abv in this beer, because unlike other high alcohol beers, this is very smooth and goes down just a little too easy, but luckily in the end it does end up being a sipping beer. This smacks you over the head with huge in your face roasty vanilla flavor and thick dark caramel. It's apparently aged in some bad-ass Paraguayan wood tank that just happens to be the biggest wooden brewing vessel in America since before prohibition. Neat. I've been divvying these up at social gatherings and every person I've given a sample to has really enjoyed it. A new favorite which is quickly rising through the ranks.
#3. Kona Brewing Company Pipeline Porter brewed by Kona Brewing Company in Kona, Hawaii (be careful when you click through, their website has some Hawaiian-themed muzak and if you forgot that your speakers are on and turned up LOUD then you might have a near death experience like I just did.) This beer has been a mainstay for me for a little while now. What sets this apart from other coffee brewed porters and stouts is the relatively light body paired with the supreme coffee smell and flavor. This is basically like drinking your morning cup of coffee, but getting a buzz from alcohol instead of caffeine. Another beer that goes amazing with barbecue, especially cow.
#2. Allagash Black brewed by Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. I discovered this little gem while my wife and I were celebrating our first anniversary in Portland. What made it even more awesome was the fact that as I was drinking it, the brewmaster walked into the bar and sat down right next to me. This is a 7.5% abv Belgian Strong Dark Ale and if you hadn't noticed by now I tend to really enjoy lighter-bodied dark beers. I get a lot of cocoa, anise, and yeast flavor from this beer and it finishes with a refreshing hoppy bitterness. Like the Dogfish brew, this is another one I've been dishing out at parties and have received nothing but praise for. I just wish they sold it in larger quantities, those damn bombers take up too much fridge space!
And finally my current #1 ranking beer in my fridge right now: Brewer's Art Resurrection brewed by Brewer's Art in Baltimore, Maryland. After being nominated as the #1 Bar in America by Esquire Magazine this place got insanely popular (actually it already was, just the whole country knows about it now.) I'll be honest, back in my hayday when I thought the best beer in the world was Yuengling (which still ain't bad) I pronounced to friends and colleagues that I hated Resurection. Oh, how times have changed. I can't really put my finger on what it is that I love about this beer, which happens to be an Abbey-style Dubbel with a respectable 7% abv. It's very malty, slightly sweet, and slightly bitter. I was overcome with giddy giggles when I found out that Brewer's Art started distributing this lovely brew in cans. Sixers are hard to come by around these parts, but whenever I see one (or two, or three...) I always snatch 'em up. They fly off the shelves, and for good reason. This is the best beer to come out of Baltimore. Ever.
Well there you have it. Now get in your damned car and haul ass to the liquor store and purchase all of these beers. Then drink yourself into a drunken stupor (not unlike what I did on Saturday night.) You will be pleased with all of these beers because they're K-tested, Micro approved.
I wanted to take this opportunity to bring to your attention that I will be in Raleigh, NC for work all next week and plan on trying as much beer and barbecue as I can get my grubby little hands on. Stay tuned for a full report of my findings. Until then, go eat something!