Looking Beyond IPAs

I feel lucky to be alive right now.

It wasn’t too long ago that in order to enjoy a truly unique beer you had to look across oceans towards countries like Belgium and Germany. Sure, there were American breweries putting out some good product, and there’s been innovators carefully crafting small batch brews for as long as America has been around.

Back then you would walk into a liquor store and shelves of domestic beer held a roundup of the usual suspects. Nowadays you can walk into any convenience store or gas station and the variety of American craft beers is mind-boggling.

But the funny thing? I’ve realized that all of that incredible variety so easily available has made me complacent. With so much exciting and new to choose from I’ll look to a familiar label to guide me in making my selection.

The India Pale Ale. Oh that hoppy goodness! I’m always glad to give a new brewery a shot, so long as I’m able to try their IPA. I could go on and on singing its praises, but here’s the thing, there’s an entire world beyond IPAs, one which American craft breweries is excelling in, and if you’re not giving some of those other beers a shot, you’re definitely missing out.

Here’s a quick run down of a few worth checking out.

Sour Beers

Off the bat, you’ll need to know that it’s an acquired taste. But remember the first time you ever had an IPA? It took a little while to acclimate to the hoppiness after the generic lagers you were used to. Start with a full-blown sour and you’ll know you’re about to experience a different beast from the first sniff.

Sour beers are based in a time when beers were aged and shipped in barrels, allowing for the introduction of live bacteria that created a distinct sour note as well as wild yeasts that impart a certain funk. Styles to check out:  a Lambic is often brewed with fruit to give it a sweetness; a good Saison, should have all of the complexity of a great bottle of wine; and a Gose for when you’re ready to experience sours at their most traditional and pucker-worthy.

Wheat Beers

Oh, did you just think that there was one brand of wheat beer? And it was always served with an orange slice in the glass? I was under the impression that I hated wheat beers, and while those light colored, slightly opaque pints looked so tempting on a hot summer’s day, the combination of fruitiness and malt in the mainstream brands was definitely not my cup of tea.

But it turns out that a wheat beer is defined as any beer fermented from a minimum of 50% wheat (usually malted wheat). Your new friend gose, meets this standard, it’s actually a sour wheat beer. Once you realize this, an entire world is opened up by wheat beers. Oh and guess what? American style wheat beers are known for their hoppiness.

Stouts

On a cold winter’s night or anytime you feel like having beer for dessert, there’s nothing like a stout. Rich and creamy, it can be summed up as beer’s answer to a milkshake combined with hot chocolate, at least in its ability to impart comfort and pleasure.

Often with flavor profiles that hint strongly of coffee, chocolate or caramel, there’s no reason not to delight in the wonderful treat. They make a great collectible as well, as because they are aged, they keep well, meaning that if you invest in a few good ones, you can save them for a special occasion, or for when the wind is blowing and you’re in need of a rich treat.

We’d love to hear about your favorite beer. Please comment below.

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