Fans of RateBeer have been known to chase the high ratings. Our tendency to “tick” off beers we’ve tried, searching out only the best, has become a bit of a stereotype applied to beer geeks. Truth is, we love all sorts of beer. From our sheepish admissions that we like Pabst Blue Ribbon to the beer that turned us on to craft beer, there’s a world of beer out there that’s neither rated highly nor necessarily surrounded by hype. That’s what this week’s topic is all about, those beer that mean more than their RateBeer score.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company is a special brewery for me. It was Boont Amber that opened my eyes to what beer could taste like and helped guide me through the vast world of microbrew in the late 90’s. While Boont got me into good beer, Poleeko Gold is one that really excites me today. An American Pale from the microbrew era, Poleeko is balanced, light and hoppy enough to satisfy. Readily available in bottles, this beer really excites me on draft. Every year at Boonville’s Legendary Beer Festival I make a point of tracking down a fresh pint.
As I mentioned before, the amber style is what spurred my love for beer. Over the years I moved away from Boont, but the style, typically maligned as being a throw away for many breweries, is still a favorite. Of those, Red Nectar is one that stands out as a must have in my book. While receiving a respectable score in terms of percentiles, a 3.46 doesn’t seem to do this beer justice. In my days living in Oregon, I would search out bottles (usually found at Cornucopia) for a little bit of California in a glass.
Rounding out my short list is Moonlight’s Death and Taxes. I realize this seems like an odd choice considering again that the percentile ratings look great. The reason I include Death and Taxes (or simply “Death” as it’s known locally) is because it is such a great beer and rare to find outside of the Bay Area, but has nowhere near the hype surrounding the beer and brewery as other local brewers. Once a year in February, people line the streets of Santa Rosa for 10 oz of triple IPA, yet when some turn away upset over the long lines, rarely do they know that just 2 blocks away are 6 taps of Moonlight at Flavor Bistro. While we all love the hoppy and barrel-aged beer that comes from Downtown Santa Rosa, the beer geeks really should take the time to experience Moonlight more often, especially ata place like Flavor where so many beers are on tap at all times.
So what are your favorite unsung beers? Are they guilty pleasures? Are they long time favorites? Are they simply overlooked? Share in the comments area.
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