Nick (beforetheflood) wrote in top_fives,

Top 5 Concept Beers

So I work at a brewery (yeah, I post links to websites under construction). We specialize in what we like to call "culinary beer". Our output consists of beers such as our Smoked Cherry Rye (rye malts smoked with cherry wood), Licorice IPA (brewed with anise seeds and fennel) and my favorite, Stouty Stouterson (imperial oatmeal stout brewed with sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and raisins). We're pretty big fans of odd beers, "strange brews", if you will.

The idea of "concept art", to me, implies that the overall idea and point to the piece was conceived before actual planning for the final product started. For example, the generic idea of "a collage of Holocaust photos" could be moving, could be sappy, depends on the execution. Or "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" would be a great name for a film. Whether or not it actually is was left to the folks who made it.

Beer is art, and don't let anyone tell you different. If you disagree, then you haven't been exposed. There's nothing wrong with that, though. There's one thing I share with all of my beer enthusiast acquaintances, and that's a former affinity for sissy yellow beer. We swap stories of sitting outside Safeway asking adults to score us some Hamm's, or drinking Bud and looking down on someone who drinks PBR. We didn't get it, but there's a whole beautiful creative world of craft brew out there, waiting for all of you. Embrace it.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Concept beers. It's happening. Sometimes you come up with what seems like a great idea, and the final product is garbage. Happens in beer a lot. I've bought a lot of beer because it sounded awesome, and it was anything but. So submitted for your approval, here are five great concept beers that accomplish the goal they set out to accomplish, and taste great doing so.

5. Wells Banana Bread Beer

You'd expect a beer that might kind of taste like banana bread. And you'd be wrong. This beer tastes exactly like banana bread. Now, I love banana bread. A lot. So this beer was made for me. You get the banana (and lots of it) in the nose and the taste. You'll also pick up a lot of breadiness from the malts that complete the desired effect. A well balanced delight.

4. Saison du BUFF

Saisons are Belgian farmhouse ales that are traditionally brewed in the winter and consumed in the summer months. A great beer to consume while working given their (usually) low alcohol content. This particular saison is a collaboration between three of the better big American breweries: Stone (CA), Dogfish Head (DE), and Vitory (PA). The idea was to incorporate parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Herbs and beer go hand in hand, but these four from an obnoxious Simon and Garfunkel song are not ingredients you come across often. A very spicy, peppery refreshing brew.

3. Wild Devil

"Sour" is not a word that you really want associated with a beer, right? Well, those crazy Belgians have been using wild yeast to attain sour notes on their beers for ages. Exposing your beer to wild strains of yeast and bacteria allow sour notes to shine through. Not really lemony, think "yogurty". Leave it to an even crazier American brewery to combine the process with an IPA. You think IPA, you think bitter, citrusy, piney. All of those notes are here, but over shadowed by funky Brettanomyce sourness. One of the most intriguingly flavored beers I've ever had.

2. Full Sail Session Lager

Go to any hipster bar and you'll see it: people drinking the cheapest swilliest beer available even though there are plenty of decent beers available. It's kitschy, it's old school, it's a tradition. PBR, Schlitz, Olympia, Old Style, Lone Star. Every region has a throwback beer, but unfortunately, most of these beers are brewed under contract by a really big really terrible beer company. When Olympia was bought out by Pabst, the folks at Oregon-based, employee-owned Full Sail Brewing picked up their 11 ounce stubby bottling system and used it to produce the best session retro beer on the market. Light, refreshing, perfect.

1. Bitches Brew

Dogfish Head Brewing is probably, all things considered, my favorite brewery in the US. It's an easy and obvious choice, but I'd be dishonest to say otherwise. This beer was thrown together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Miles Davis album of the same name. A HUGE imperial stout brewed with honey and gesho root in the style of an African beer. This beer is sweet, warm and a tad easier to drink than most stouts this big. Rich, in-yer-face, yet smooth. Think you can't make a beer taste like music? You haven't had this.

Try some. Let me know what you think.
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