The Mount Rushmore of Craft Beer
Recent talks in the sports world have centered around Lebron James’ comments on the Mount Rushmore of Basketball. His claim is that he belongs on it. From there, we digress to Mount Rushmores of all kinds: NFL quarterbacks, best baseball players, etc. Nobody mentioned the Mount Rushmore of Craft Beer. After much thought and debate, I’ve created two Mount Rushmores—one is made up of the top craft beers. period. The other is made of the top craft beer companies. Of course, many of you will disagree…so please tell us what yours are. Here are mine:
Mount Rushmore of Craft Beers:
1. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
The Two Hearted Ale is a true American IPA that meets expectations every time. This brew has balance in flavor between citrus and earthy hops. When drinking, you aren’t overwhelmed with bitter flavor, but hopheads are consistently pleased. The finish is dry and crisp, which is expected with an IPA. While it makes hopheads happy, it also welcomes newcomers to the party and may even open their minds to trying another IPA. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale makes it on to the Mount because of it’s bold flavors, and welcoming notes of sweetness that often makes new hopheads with every sip.
2. Dogfish Head, Stone, and Victory Saison du Buff
Collaboration brews bring more awareness to craft beer and create unique flavors that work. It is hard to choose one collaboration brew, but the Saison du Buff was the most memorable. The saison style brew is flavored with rosemary, sage, thyme, and parsley. You can actually taste the spices in the beer…in a good way.
3. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
ABV: 14.2 %
I already endorsed this beer once. But really…how can you go wrong with a stout that has been barrel aged and crafted since 1992? Goose Island has mastered the bourbon stout and continues to produce it with high quality year after year. I have one in my closet for next year to compare. The beer pours and looks like oil…like a stout should. What more? Well the taste of course.
4. Russian River Pliny the Younger
One of the more rare craft beers offered, but also one of the most sought-after brews. The triple IPA is done well—with triple the hops of a regular IPA, some may consider it a risk. However, most of us consider this an inspiration of what a true IPA should taste like. Before getting put-off by the hops, consider the fact that MAYBE an IPA the stature of Mount Rushmore may be worth a try…
Mount Rushmore of Craft Breweries:
1. Dogfish Head
Dogfish Head Brewery arguably brought craft beer to a head on the East Coast. Whether you agree or not, when a craft brewery gains a cult following, its own beer documentary, and even a traditional beer run, it’s hard to argue otherwise. The brewery stands true to form, creating original and unique craft beers on a seasonal basis, with several flagships to choose from. The 90 minute IPA has come to be known as a household term and dare I say it—-many people even know what the “90 minute” part means.
Greg Koch has created a beer empire in Stone. The brewery has their own flagship beers, but they are most known for producing bold flavors that always deliver. Stone represents craft beer in a way that makes it okay to be “big.” Koch (beard or no beard) has found ways to intrigue people about beer. Stone offers several collaboration brews and even offers the opportunity for homebrewers to become part of the collaboration. Koch supports the industry by collaborating with other breweries, welcoming anyone into their brewery, and promoting homebrewing and craft beer whenever he gets the chance. Without Stone, the craft beer industry wouldn’t be near what it is today.
3. Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada is the classic West Coast beer company. The Pale Ale brewed by Sierra Nevada promotes fresh hope flavors in a way that is making me salivate at this very moment. The brewery began in 1979 after Ken Grossman’s homebrew shop grew and many of his patrons were coming in for HIS beer. Sierra Nevada takes their brewing seriously, by investing in research and development on campus and in the best, freshest ingredients available. The time spent in developing their beers helps us all realize that beer doesn’t have to give you that “bitter beer” face every time.
Founders owners Mike Stevens and David Engbers nearly bankrupted the brewery with “well balanced” unremarkable beers. The two owners realized what they were doing wrong…they were making beers for boring people. Soon, they started making “complex, in your face ales” that they originally started brewing to make. The result brought us All Day IPA, Dirty Bastard Ale and the Breakfast Stout to name a few. These are beers of different styles that earn their way onto several beer top ten lists.
Who’s on your craft beer Mt. Rushmore?