Make us your home page
Instagram

From Orval to Samuel Smith to Dogfish: stock up on bottled beer

Every time I step into the beer store, I see something new. Beers I've never seen before, on the shelf, every time I visit. Few would — or should — complain about plentiful options, but there is a downside to such an embarrassment of riches.

I was recently perusing the selection of a local shop in search of a beer to feature as the beer of the week. It took me a few laps before settling on Chimay Dorée, a bottle I'd passed over many times, probably due to the sheer familiarity of the Chimay name and logo.

But this beer was actually a new one for me. When did Chimay release Dorée in the United States? In 2013, I later found. How had I gone three years without trying a new release from such an iconic brewery — a brewery that played a large role in my love for good beer way back when?

The answer is simple. With so many new and exciting beers hitting the market on a steady basis, it becomes easier to scan right past the classics. With that in mind, I have a suggestion to make: We should make it a point to periodically revisit some of the iconic beers that are so easily overlooked in an ever-growing sea of new beers.

Why not make it a mix-and-match sixer? Everyone has their own short list of memorable beers that they've been neglecting — here's mine (disclaimer: my six-pack is a little pricey!).

North Coast Old Stock Ale: Brewed annually and released in the fall, Old Stock Ale can often be found year-round, despite being held in very high regard by beer fans (99 on Rate Beer; 92 on Beer Advocate). This is a traditional English-style old ale, which is great fresh but can also be aged with good results. Thick raisin and plum notes complement a bready malt base in this rich, complex brew.

Orval: 84 years ago, Orval became the first Trappist ale to be sold commercially in Belgium. Today, the monastery/brewery still only makes this one beer for sale to the public. Of the 11 Trappist breweries, Orval is unique in its use of dry-hopping and the addition of the local brettanomyces lambicus yeast strain. These two processes give Orval a simultaneously spicy and fruity complexity, while the latter ensures that the beer will continue to evolve in the bottle over time.

Brooklyn Lager: Years ago, "craft" and "lager" were all but mutually exclusive. Samuel Adams and Brooklyn Brewery were instrumental in changing this, with both breweries touting a Vienna-style lager as their flagship brew. Brooklyn's version is dry-hopped, which gives it a little bit of an extra aromatic kick to go along with its crisp, refreshing base. Brooklyn makes a summer ale, too, but for my money, this is one of the most thirst-quenching beers out there.

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen: Berliner weisse and gose get all the play these days, but the wheat beer that turned many of us onto German brews was a simple hefeweizen. My personal favorite comes from Weihenstephaner, but the 0.5L bottle won't fit in a six-pack! Paulaner's version is fantastic, as well — a subtle example of the classic banana-and-clove notes that hefes are known for. Paulaner claims that it's the most popular hefeweizen in Germany, and I believe them.

Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout: There is more to world-class stout than gigantic, barrel-aged imperial versions. This oatmeal stout from Yorkshire, England's oldest brewery is a master class in the combination of roasted barley and oats. It's rich, velvety, and semi-sweet, with a coffee-like finish. I've had my share of oatmeal stouts from breweries around the world, and nothing touches this one.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron: Dogfish Head has never been one for subtlety, and this 12 percent ABV brown ale is no exception. The beer is aged in giant barrels custom-made from Paraguayan palo santo wood, which lends sweet toffee and vanilla notes. While the beer is unquestionably big, it's remarkably nuanced. It's so good that I have to stop and wonder why I've waited so long to revisit it.

Feel free to try my picks, or choose your own. I think you'll agree that it feels good to check in with old friends.

From Orval to Samuel Smith to Dogfish: stock up on bottled beer 07/20/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2016 4:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 29-June 4

    Events

    Memorial Day: Among the free events paying tribute to fallen soldiers today is the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony in St. Petersburg, with speakers including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Christ, musical performances, a rifle salute and taps. (727) 319-6479 . The Florida National Cemetery …

    Young blonde boy carrying an American Flag over a wooden Bridge.
  2. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 28

    Events

    Alabama: The country music all-timers hit the road for the Southern Drawl tour with openers, the Charlie Daniels Band. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $26-$86. (813) 301-2500.

    Handout photo of Alabama, performing 5/28/17 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Credit: Alan Messer
  4. Find serenity at Grand Cayman Island's Cemetery Beach

    Travel

    GRAND CAYMAN ISLAND

    Hey, cruisers, if you've been to Hell and back, snuggled with the stingrays and taken photos with the turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre, you might be looking for something different on your next trip. (Guilty!)

    Good snorkeling can be found off shore at Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman.
  5. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    Karen Bail warms up seniors Jonathan O’Brien, left, as Juan Peron and Addam Setzer as Che Guevara before the dress rehearsal of Evita in April.