Occasionally a great beer can inspire you, and sometimes you don’t even need to drink it. I was browsing through the selection in my fridge the other day and a few of the available choices reminded me of an idea I had this summer for an article, which I then forgot and never got around to writing. This was inspired by a question asked on twitter by Deadspin beer writer extraordinaire Will Gordon. If you could have any three beers perpetually on draft at your house which three would you choose? I made selections off the top of my head but meant to turn that idea into a more in-depth article, but it slipped my mind and I never followed up. Then last week I noticed that I had recently purchased three of my all-time favorite beers, and this article is the result.
I am going to set a couple of ground rules for this exercise. First, I am sticking to beers that are readily available where I live. No unicorn beers, or even beers from small breweries that barely distribute, only beers that you would expect to find at a local bottle shop. Of course I would love to have Heady Topper or some Hill Farmstead selections on draft, but these beers get plenty of credit. I want to focus on great beers that you can buy without waiting in line. Also, while I love IPAs, I want some diversity, so my three beers will cover a wide range of styles. For me I would need one hop-bomb, one darker beer and one Belgian style (this list will be different from person to person, but that is perfect for my tastes). Here are my selections, along with my thought process and some beers that just missed the cut.
Dark Beer: Mayflower Porter. Some drinkers would prefer a big imperial stout, and while I love Pretty Things Barbapapa and CBC You Enjoy My Stout, I tend to drink huge and boozy beers just once in a while. The same can be said for many dopplebocks, although Smuttynose S’muttonator warrants acknowledgement. I also strongly considered a few beers by Jack’s Abby, including Framinghammer and Smoke and Dagger (especially on nitro). In the end I knew I would pick a porter, one of my all time favorite styles of beer. Founders makes a great porter, and Maine Beer Company’s King Titus is also very tasty. However, this was probably the easiest call of my three choices. Mayflower Porter is a nearly perfect version of a classic style and a beer I can enjoy any time. I think it is easy to forget how good this beer is, try it again if you haven’t had it in a while.
Belgian Style Beer: Pretty Things Jack D’Or. I love some dubbels and quads (mmmm, Mystic Day of Doom), but tend to prefer the Belgians with a lighter tint. The Belgian IPA style is an American creation, and while I love the combination of hops and Belgian yeast there are only a couple of examples that stand out. My favorite is probably Enlightenment Illumination, which just missed the cut here. I also love tripels, Idle Hands Triplication is an all-time favorite for the way it melds Belgian yeast with a solid kick of American hops, and also came close to selection. That brings us to my favorite Belgian style, the saison. There are a ton of good saisons out there. I spent last spring focusing the blog on reviews of this style of beer. Due to my “readily available” condition I can rule out Trillium Farmhouse, Mystic Mary of the Gael (a seasonal), and the Mystic Vinland beers. A close runner up here was Allagash Saison which is so flavorful and easy to drink it would be a perfect beer to have on draft. So, just ahead all of these close contenders, comes the first saison that I really loved, Pretty Things Jack D’Or. I could spend a lot of time singing the praises of this beer, but I am going to do a full review in the next week or so!
Hoppy Beer: Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union. This was the hardest choice of the three for me as IPAs are my favorite style and there are so many that I love. Once they open up their new brewery and expand distribution Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale might take this spot, but for right now it misses “readily available”. The same can be said for Maine Beer Co. Lunch and Another One, Otter Creek Double Dose, Bog Iron Middle Child and the various IPAs from Trillium and Treehouse. A few near-misses include Wormtown Be Hoppy, Pretty Things Meadowlark, Rising Tide Calcutta Cutter, Notch Left of the Dial and Long Trail Limbo. Alas, I didn’t choose an IPA at all, but a hoppy lager. Hoponius Union has bold hop flavor and solid bitterness in a crisp and clean lager. If this was a limited release beer I guarantee there would be a line out the door in Framingham, but we are lucky to have it available all year long!
So those are my choices, although they could easily change if I wrote this article again in a few months. What three beers would you pick (sticking to the readily available limitation)? What did I miss? Feel free to let me know in the comments, on twitter @HoppyBoston or on facebook (www.facebook.com/hoppyboston)!