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Beer For Thought

August 13, 2010

For those that aren’t already aware, Andover Liquors has one of the largest selections of craft beer in the area, with beers from all over the world. We carry everything from old-school Belgian Saisons and French Farmhouse ales to the new releases from American craft breweries all over the country. To encourage craft beer enthusiasts and interested newcomers alike, we have a year-round 15% case discount on all of our 22 oz. bottles (those large, individual bottles), to make mixing and matching your favorite beers even easier.

Seeing as this weekend happens to be a tax-free holiday (August 14-15), there’s no better time to explore our great selection. Though craft beer runs the gamut from relatively cheap (Berkshire Brewing Co.’s are among the cheapest) to fairly expensive (a lot of the imported Belgian stuff), I’d like to take this opportunity to assemble a list of some of those beers that are among the more expensive, yet are absolutely worth checking out for those interested in expanding their knowledge of craft beer. The beers on this list are widely regarded as being among the best in the world, and I’ve included both their individual price as well as their discounted case price. So, in no particular order, and covering a wide range of styles, here are six beers that are definitely worth checking out this weekend.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout: a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout at 13% abv. One of the favorites at our Goose Island tasting last week, this brew has a midnight-black color and a strong bourbon flavor with subtle notes of coconut, vanilla, and chocolate. Definitely a must-try for anyone who likes stouts or whiskey. ($13.95/$11.86)

Alesmith Wee Heavy: a barrel-aged, Scotch-Style Ale from Alesmith Brewing Co. in San Diego, California. At 10% abv, it has a characteristically rich malt character with subtle flavors of dark fruit and a slight smokiness. For anyone who enjoys Scotch-style or barrel-aged ales, this is one of the best. ($16.95/$14.41)

Fantome Printemps: from Belgium, a Farmhouse Ale at 8% abv. A perfect summer beer that is uniquely crisp and complex, it is straw-colored with pronounced flavors of lemon and lime and a fresh, grassy aroma. Very unique and highly drinkable. ($16.50/$14.03)

Ommegang Zuur: this is New York-based Ommegang’s resurrection of a traditional Flemish Sour Brown Ale, at 6% abv. This ale is complex yet very drinkable, with a tart character and a flavor of sour cherries, and a slight (very slight) aftertaste of vinegar. A very rare and unique style that’s only around for a limited time. ($13.95/$11.86)

St. Bernardus Abt. 12: from Belgium, a traditional Quad at 10.5% abv. A very clean and flavorful Belgian beer with flavors of dark fruit (figs, raisins, etc.), banana, and brown sugar. This beer is everything that a Quad should be, and is a definite must for anyone who hasn’t already tried it. ($12.50/$10.63)

Avery Seventeen: based in Boulder, CO, Avery Brewing is known for producing original and innovative anniversary ales, but this is their first lager, and it’s a damn good one. A Dry-Hopped Black Lager that is modeled on a traditional German Schwarzbier, this 8.69% abv brew has many similarities to a stout (with flavors of roasted malt and chocolate), but has an undeniably distinct hop character that gives it a sweet spiciness. I really can’t recommend this beer enough, and seeing as it’s a one-and-done anniversary style, I’d highly advise people to try it before it’s gone for good. ($9.49/$8.50)


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