Whenever someone refers to themselves as a "beer snob," my imagination takes me to a weird place. I envision a guy in a three-piece suit, monocle firmly wedged in the crinkle of his eye, daintily sipping his beer and complaining loudly about the lack of complexity in XYZ Brewery's new Kölsch. It's an exaggeration, surely, but the hyperbole forces recognition of what it was about snobbery that I so despise: the negativity.
In the craft beer industry, which is known for its role as the David to BudMillerCoors' Goliath, there isn't any room for that negativity. As the snobs debate on about overrated beers and the worthiness of praise, rarely is a word spoken about those that are underappreciated.
In the context of high-profile releases of anticipated beers such as Pliny the Younger, Dark Lord, and others, it is easy to forget just how great some of the beers at the local grocery store are. These are the real workhorses of the industry—reliable, consistent, and always available. These are the beers that hype forgot. So today I present to you: 5 delicious underrated beers we shouldn't take for granted.
Stone Pale Ale
Every time a new Stone beer comes out, it seems like they're progressing toward a future goal of releasing a bottle packed with hop pellets. IBU is seen as a dare rather than a unit of measurement, and subtlety has all but gone out the window. That's partly why I love their pale ale so much. Balanced and nuanced, this beer is as comfortable in a dingy pub as it is alongside fancy-pants cuisine.
Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
In the shadow of their ubiquitous Boont Amber Ale, Anderson Valley's Barney Flats remains rarely mentioned. Rich but easy drinking, the creamy, chocolatey body of the beer is lightened by a snap of hop and roast bitterness on the finish. It's good stuff.
Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale
Lagunitas will be the first to tell you that the original Dogtown sucked. Heck, Lagunitas will tell you they suck. Self-deprecation aside, there are few things more satisfying than a fresh bottle of the New Dogtown Pale Ale. Bright and aggressively hoppy, this is a pale ale for hop fiends, forgotten on the shelf next to their world-famous IPA and an array of quirkily-named seasonals.
Dieu du Ciel!'s Dernière Volonté
A marriage of English and Belgian styles, this is possibly my favorite beer from a brewery best known for its rich stouts, Péché Mortel and Aphrodite. Floral and spicy with a surprisingly hoppy finish, this is a complex and innovative beer.
Ubiquitous around my San Francisco Bay Area home, it is easy to take Trumer Pils for granted, especially when many bottles are skunked due to the baffling choice of green glass for packaging. That said, I realize its a bit of a stretch to ask you to trust me when I say that fresh Trumer Pils from well-maintained draft lines is a beautiful beer. Clean, dry and grassy, this is a classic German-style pilsner made by a stateside brewery that does one thing and does it well.
Add Your Favorites!
Which beers—local or otherwise—are your favorite underappreciated beers? Which brews do you think actually deserve more hype? Sound off in the comments section below.
About the author: Mike Reis is a Certified Cicerone and Co-Director of Beer at the Monk's Kettle and Abbot's Cellar restaurants in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @beerspeaks or find him behind a pint near you.