Today, December 5, marks the 83rd anniversary of the ratification of the 21st amendment to the United States Constitution. Article 1 of this amendment reads as follows:
“The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.”
What’s the significance of this, you ask? The 18th amendment made alcohol illegal in the United States for almost 15 years. That worked pretty well, right?
Today is a day that we should celebrate, so I’ve decided to help you honor this day by offering up my suggestions for the top 5 beers that you should enjoy this momentous occasion with.
5) Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
If you don’t like IPAs… Well, first of all, you’re insane. Second of all, try this one. This is the IPA-iest beer of all IPAs. I don’t mean it’s the most bitter. I don’t mean it’s the hoppiest. I mean this beer is the IPA that everyone who likes IPAs knows and enjoys. It’s a perfect balance of hoppyness, bitterness, and sweetness, all nestled into a beer that’s got a whopping 7.2% ABV.
If someone tells me “I’ve never tried an IPA before and I’m not sure if I would like it,” I tell them to try this one first. The IPA field only gets weirder and more insane from here, so try this beautiful brew first and foremost. If you’re not a fan, give up. But if you find yourself craving those hoppy, bitter mouthfuls of sweet deliciousness after you finish your first one, then by all means, keep going on to number 4.
4) Karbach Brewing Rodeo Clown Double IPA
Just because something’s called a double IPA doesn’t mean that it’s going to necessarily be more insanely bitter and hoppy than a regular IPA. (See: Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter.) This IPA might delight your tastebuds a little bit more than you may think.
Karbach’s Rodeo Clown comes in at a whopping 9.5% ABV, so be careful with this beast, but it’s so sweet and smooth that you won’t even feel it as it slides down your throat. They boost up the sugars in this beer to get the extra alcohol content, and some of that extra sugar from the malt makes its way into the final product, so you’ll get a lot more of the sweetness to balance out the bitter, hoppy flavor. Don’t think that means it packs any less of a punch, though. The flavors play perfectly together in this silky smooth IPA, so if you’re gonna stay in on one of those cold December nights, grab yourself a 4 pack of these bad boys and get ready for a treat.
3) Anchor Steam Old Foghorn Barleywine
I’m going to take a step away from hops for now and make my way towards sweet, malty goodness. Enter: Old Foghorn. Brewed by Anchor Steam out of San Francisco, this beer is less of a beer and more of a low ABV wine (hence the name. Barleywines have more sugars, therefore more alcohol).
This was my first entrance into barleywines, and I suggest you start here, too. It’s smooth. It’s sweet. It’s a beer drinkers delight. I’m actually starting to prefer this flavor to some of the IPAs. I don’t know if I overdid it with the bitterness factor or if I’m just getting tired of the same thing over and over again, but the darker, sweeter, less bitter beers are something I’m really enjoying now. Anchor Steam’s 10% ABV monster is a great entry point into the barleywine style. But number 2 on the list jumps back to my old standard.
2) Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
This is where I started. This was my go-to beer for a really long time. I couldn’t get enough of it – well, I couldn’t until I realized there were semi-equally good beers out there for half the price. But I still come back to 90 Minute when I’m looking to treat myself.
Everything Dogfish does is fantastic, and this IPA only furthers that point. It’s supremely bitter, it’s not too sweet, and it’s about the hoppiest thing you’ll put in your moth (for the hoppiest, see Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter – again). But be careful. It’s 9% ABV. When you go buy a 4 pack of these bad boys and start playing some Fallout: New Vegas, you’re going to start losing yourself pretty quick. But go check this beer out. Check out other beers by Dogfish, too. They do some really great work and put out some amazing one offs. I’ve still got a bottle of their 20th anniversary beer in my fridge that’s been aging for a little over a year. I plan to leave it there for a long, long time.
1) Real Ale Sisyphus
For the number one beer on this list, I wanted to pick something special. I wanted to pick something that, when I see it on a menu at a bar or restaurant, or when I stumble upon it at a liquor store, my heart gets a little fluttery. When I decided that should be my qualification for number 1, I knew that, much like the Highlander, there could be only one.
If you live outside of Texas, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for a number of reasons, but probably the biggest thing I feel bad about is that you don’t have access to the greatest brewery of all time: Real Ale. They’re based out of Blanco, Texas, one of those little towns that Texas is famous for, and their tag line says it all.
“Unfiltered. Unpasteurized. Unavailable in 49 states.”
Once I’d tasted my first barley wine, I was intrigued by what else was out there. I looked around and tried a few, but Real Ale was the one that stuck out. I’ve tried vintages going back all the way to 2008, and each one only gets better and better.
Sisyphus was actually my first experience with Real Ale. It’s smooth but bubbly. It’s sweet with a hint of bitterness. The caramel flavor that coats your mouth only gets more pleasing with each passing sip.
If you live in Texas and haven’t tried Real Ale, go pick up a pack of anything they make, but definitely try to find some Sisyphus. What if you don’t live in Texas? Well, it’s about time you make a trip, huh?