Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

April 26, 2007

The Culture of Beer:

My Beer Fridge Is Cooler Than Your Beer Fridge

Limited release, rare craft brews are one highlight of America’s new golden age of beer.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
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Like all good Beer Dorks, I have a refrigerator dedicated solely to beer (and sometimes Fresca). And it’s been reported in the “mainstream” media lately that, apparently, some non-Beer Dorks actually keep their beer in the same fridge as their food, just like cavemen used to do. This sad fact is one of the reasons why I quit watching the local news.

But, no, this article isn’t an exhortation for everyone to go out and buy a beer fridge. Because it’s what’s in the beer fridge that’s important. And as the craft brewing industry continues to mature, everyone’s beer fridge contents are going to get more and more interesting.

I’m talking about the trend of American craft brewers releasing extremely limited—and extremely high quality—batches of specialty brews. Getting a hold of these beers can be as challenging as a comic book collector finding a mint issue of Aquaman #1. Beer Dorks have it better, though, because, one, you can’t drink a comic book; two, even the rarest specialty brew isn’t going to cost more than $10 for a 12-ounce bottle; and, three, Aquaman sucks.

The thrill of the chase—calling breweries, visiting every liquor store in a 60-mile radius, threatening friends who’ve beaten you to the punch—is only part of the reason the idea of rare beers is catching on. The main reason is these brews are some of the best—or at least the most challenging, most complex—in the world. If they weren’t any good, the entire concept would collapse, because going through all that effort and money only to get a very good but not incredible beer wouldn’t be worth it. We’re Beer Dorks, not Florida Gator fans, for God’s sake. Our lives actually have a point.

And that point is to enjoy great craft-brewed beer. I’m not trying to brag here (maybe just a little) but I currently have a semi-enviable array of hard-to-find, limited release beers lurking in my beer fridge. To wit:

• Alaskan Smoked Porter—the 2005 vintage, the one that won a gold at the Great American Beer Festival.

• Founders Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout—currently number two on Beer Advocate’s best domestic beers list.

• Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA—13 percent ABV, more than 110 IBUs, palate-scrambling complexity.

• New Glarus Belgian Quadruple—one of brewer Dan Carey’s highly entertaining “unplugged” series.

• Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA—I’m dragging my feet on sampling this one, mainly because of the fact that it’s 20 percent ABV, meaning a 12-ounce bottle has as much alcohol as an entire bottle of wine. Even if you pace yourself and take an hour to drink it, that’s like jamming a pint of schnapps. So unless you were born to party, after drinking one bottle you’re drooling on the sheets for the next 10 hours.

• Hair of the Dog Blue Dot Imperial IPA—I actually recently finished my bomber of this, one of the more challenging brews I’ve come across, which I magnanimously shared with resident hophead Nigel. (I asked Pacific Northwest Beer Dork and hophead Ade Solomon how he would describe the Blue Dot in one word. He gave me a look and said, “Mean.”)

As a perfect capper, this Saturday is Dark Lord Day, the only time of the year where it is actually feasible to get your grubby mitts on a bottle of Three Floyds’ stupendous Dark Lord Imperial Stout, posited by some to be the best beer in the world. (I wouldn’t know, since I’ve never had the pleasure.)

And, again, I’m not bragging, at least not about my collection of soon-to-be-drank beers. I’m just reveling in the golden age of American beer, and I invite you all to do the same. Please, don’t take this time we have with a wide selection of fantastic craft beers for granted. Nothing lasts forever. Go out and start searching for those hard-to-find, incredibly well brewed craft beers. And let me know when you’ve got a fridge full enough to put mine to shame—I’d love to hear from you. Just make sure to include your street address and date and times when you won’t be at home …

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

Want to know how healthy the craft beer industry is? As always, look to Portland. Craft pioneer Bridgeport announces sudden closure, adding to a growing list of PDX casualties.
Did Anheuser-Busch Chicago offer their shit beer to Cody Parkey before his missed field goal? Because that may explain why he "accidentally" biffed it.
Chicago now has the most breweries of any city in the country. Other things Chicago has the most of: murders, mobsters, and Ditkas.
Trying to spin it positive, BA releases end of year graphic. Only 5% growth in the craft sector when nearly 1000 new breweries opened? That's a collapse waiting to happen.
R.I.P. Tallgrass... another casualty as the regional/national craft beer market continues to get squeezed.
Wait... Constellation Brands cut all of the Ballast Point and Funky Buddha sales staff? They merged it with their Corona/Modelo staff?? We're SHOCKED!!!
Pizza Beer founder crying about failure of company, blames everyone else. Reminder, the beer tasted like vomit. Try having better ideas or making better products so you're not a failure.
It's Bud Light so doesn't really matter, but we expect this beer to be sitting around for awhile.
Indiana brewery to open with controversial beer names to "get the conversation going". Translation: taking advantage of serious issues for free publicity.
Hundreds of amazing beers in Wisconsin and the Cubs took back the one everyone drinks just because it exists and people have heard of it. How fitting...