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Friday Five: My White Whales (of Beer)

July 2, 2010

Remember my friend Chris? He wrote a guest post for me a few weeks ago? Well, he’s stepped up to the plate for me again, since I am roaming the Northwest U.S. Chris is a beer connoisseur. He has pretty much taught me everything I know about beer, including what beers I like, and don’t like. The following five are beers that he’s been searching long and hard for. Thanks, Chris!

(photo source)

In the six or seven years that I have been drinking craft beer, the number of beers that I have tried is literally in the thousands.  To put it mildly, I am an enthusiast.  Some might say I am obsessed.  Either way, the fact remains the same—I have tried many.  Yet somehow there are beers that have escaped me, in spite of my cross-country travels in search of the best that this great country can offer.  So here are five that I have either searched for and cannot find, have heard great things about, or some combination of both. I tried to narrow it down to five that I really want to try AND have actively looked for in other states.

Southampton Imperial Porter- Southampton Publick House, Southampton, NY

When I first heard of this beer, in a magazine’s list of beers that I “must try”, I was a huge porter fan, being weaned on the likes of Edmund Fitzgerald, and I agreed that I must try it.  That was about six years ago.  Over the years, all that I read about Southampton made me want them more and more; they became almost mythical to me.  To mix metaphors, they were like Oz, this beautiful, magical, faraway place that produced ambrosia for the gods (just triple mixed my metaphors I think!).  Based out on Long Island, NY, they only bottled a few of their beers and shipped locally to NYC and the Philadelphia area.  A trip to Long Island needed to happen, and in spite of thoughts of it on several occasions, nothing ever materialized.  Well, in the past year plus, I have found Southampton in bottles in Nebraska, Florida and Ohio, so I know that their distribution is increasing.  Just have not found the Imperial Porter yet.  This is the one beer that I have been searching the longest for, and there truly is no end in sight.  Thankfully I am patient…

Pliny the Younger- Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA

Russian River is legendary in the beer community for producing extreme, yet tasty beers.  A trip I had scheduled to Santa Rosa a few years back was postponed.  I got my first taste of Russian River last year, as I was able to procure some bottles of Pliny the Elder in Colorado.  This is an excellent beer.  And Pliny the Younger is even more extreme, as it is triple hopped compared to their regular IPA, and then quadruple dry hopped.  Yes, you guessed it, this is a hoppy, very bitter beer, but in a good way.  Obviously, I can only assume it is in a good way.  From what I have now had from Russian River, they probably only make good beers, so it is a safe bet.

AleSmith YuleSmith (Summer)- AleSmith Brewing, San Diego, CA

While porters were my favorites back in the day, India Pale Ales (IPA) currently are number one in my heart (and my mouth).  They are basically hopped up pale ales, more bitter, with a flowery, piney, or citrusy smell and taste.  AleSmith is best known for their impeccable Imperial Stout, called Speedway, but they also make a winter and summer YuleSmith to presumably celebrate Christmas and Independence Day.  Due to some luck and some nice people, I was able to try the winter version last year.  It was a top-notch brew.  And the fact that the summer one is an IPA (Double IPA actually), makes me think that I will like this one even more.

Troegs Nugget Nectar Ale- Troegs Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA

(Cough cough) Another IPA that I am looking for, but this one just came to my attention more recently, like maybe two years ago.  A trip to a Kentucky store that allegedly had it, had me coming up empty and disappointed.  But I will not give up.  Just something else to look forward to if I ever travel east again.

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN

I know, I know.  This is a microbrewery, not an actual beer, but let me explain.  Their website says they are open 13-14 hours a day 365 days a year.  Well, I went there two years ago almost exclusively to visit this place, and they were closed.  Serving under aged patrons?  Remodeling?  Cockroaches?  I never found out.  All I can say is that I was on their website the day before I left to see what they had on tap, and there was no notice of being closed.  They have obviously since reopened, and I have since forgiven them, due to their awesome array of quality beers that I cannot wait to try.  Oh, and I am going back in early September to try it once again.  I will not be defeated.  Victory!!

This is only a sampling of the great beers that I am hoping to try in the future.  There are many many many more.  If you can get a hold of any of these, I totally recommend it (and don’t forget who pointed you in the right direction……)


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