Imagine a brewing company that only makes a handful of beers so intense, so delicious and so sought after that they have to have secret release dates of their brews to avoid overcrowding and you will have imagined Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland, Oregon.
There’s nothing like a dark and hearty oatmeal stout to fill you up and keep you warm during the long winter months. Goose Island’s Stockyard Oatmeal Stout is one of the stoutiest around. Made for Chicagoans, this broad-shouldered beer has depth of flavor and aroma as well as a rich color. Ring in the new year with this smooth and satisfying brew.
Mexico isn't known for its beer, but that doesn't stop them from crafting one of the finest brews on the market. Negra Modelo is one of the country's most popular exported beers. Easy to locate in their gold foil wrappers, the stout, elegant bottles hold the best that Mexico has to offer. Negra Modelo's brilliant copper coloring, smooth lager flavor and inviting head combine the comforting and exotic in one dark bottle.
There is beer, and then there’s Warsteiner. Seeing this exquisite brew at Trader Joe’s was a very pleasant surprise. A world-class international pilsner, Warsteiner Premium Verum is a German-style pilsner that holds closely to the 1516 German beer purity law that cherishes a simplicity of ingredients and a complete avoidance of chemicals and additives: this beer is built for savoring.
Most beer is made out of the same essential ingredients: malted barley, hops and water. Each glass of Guinness Extra Stout also has a heaping spoonful of magical deliciousness—how else could they create such a famous flavor? Guinness has long been the best selling beer in Ireland, and drinkers all over the world loves its rich dark body, toasty-burnt flavor and thick, creamy head. If you like the flavors of roasted coffee, caramel and cocoa in your beer, then Guinness Extra Stout is for you.
Elegance. Class. Timeless quality. I’m not talking about diamonds. I’m talking about Pilsner Urquell. This Czech beer has christened many a summer weekend. Its golden hue, refreshing flavor and crisp feel have kept this beer on the market for centuries. Pilsner Urquell was first brewed centuries ago—and little has changed. It’s perfect flavor and classic pilsner qualities make it a perennial favorite around the world. The Czechs definitely got this recipe right the first time around.
Open windows, warm breeze, blooming flowers—and Otter Creek’s Spring Ale, Kölsch style from Trader Joe's. As clear, crisp and refreshing as a mild spring day, this tasty beer will quickly disappear from your refrigerator. Like any classic Kölsch, Otter Creek’s spring ale is a simple, light beer with a balanced effervescence and easy grassy flavor
I’m not sure a beer has ever been more appropriately named than Dogfish Head’s Lawnmower. It is exactly what you would expect: a light, crisp, refreshing beer that goes down smooth and is perfect, and I mean perfect, for gulping after mowing the lawn on a hot summer afternoon. The Lawnmower isn’t what you would expect from other Dogfish Head brews—this beer keeps a low profile. It’s medium body, light carbonation and straw-yellow color are straightforward. It tastes just the way it looks. And that’s OK when you want something cold and crisp.
The summertime beer is season can be a time for fresh, experimental beers. Fruit beers, wheat beers, super-hoppy beers. I’ve tried them all, and you have, too. But sometimes, sometimes on a summer day, when all the ads for summer ales and berry-flavored brews have faded into the background, you just want a good old fashioned pale ale. Reach for a Sea Dog Pale Ale.
Hanging on to the last little bit of summer? Grab a Jumping Cow Amber Ale. Just like the golden sunsets of early autumn, this ale is sweet and smooth as a summer day, tawny and crisp as a fall morning. Jumping Cow is the perfect September beer—a blend of sweet malt and tangy hops in a delicious amber ale. Trader Joe’s really knows how to stock its beer aisle this time of year, but Jumping Cow is easily my fall favorite.
Roxy Rolles isn’t your typical six pack. Magic Hat is always up to tricks with its beer, and Roxy really threw me for a loop. Its dark, mahogany color and sweet, malty aroma had me prepared for a classic porter or dark amber flavor: mild, slightly sweet and laced with caramel and nut flavors. What I got was a mouthful of citrus hops with hints of dark malt in the background. At first I was surprised, and then I was pleasantly surprised. The Roxy is a beautiful beer. It pours a deep coffee color and produces an abundant, aromatic tan head. It quickly levels off and keeps a fine lace all the way to the bottom of the glass.
Whitbread Pale Ale is a classic English pale ale: smooth, malty and delicious. Whitbread is still made in one of England’s oldest breweries. While pale ales of late have been the subject of a lot of experimentation, Whitbread got the recipe right a few centuries ago and just kept on making it. It's a good thing we can get it at Trader Joe's, huh?
Unlike American pale ales, this English pale ale is built for a smooth ride. Beers like Sierra Nevada and Flying Dog pale ales are very hoppy, crisp and citrusy with sharp grass and sour fruit tones. Whitbread is a sleepy, moderate beer. If you don’t consider yourself much of a beer drinker, or dislike dark beers, Whitebread is for you.
It looks like a wine bottle. It’s corked like a wine bottle. It tastes like…beer! Chimay’s authentic Trappist beers are some of the finest crafted beers in Belgium. The Cistercian Trappist monks of Chimay have been brewing and refining their gourmet beer since 1862. Its distinct coppery color and rich creamy head are only the beginning of the exquisite flavor that lies within each bottle.
This traditional IPA is still made in the English style of the 1800s. White Hawk follows the same recipe that was used to send beer to India for British troops, maintaining the rich, heavy hops and malt flavors that characterize this strong brew. A sharp, bright aroma complements the strong hops flavor and high 7% alcohol presence. With accents of dark chocolate and coffee, this IPA is a unique and memorable beer. Ale lovers will note the exaggerated characteristics that make this beer feel like moving from an acoustic Fender guitar to an electric Les Paul. $7.50 for a six pack.
Pete’s Wicked Ale keeps its jagged edge with this Strawberry Blonde Ale. A golden lager delicately balanced with pale and wheat malts against natural strawberry flavor, this beer smoothes over like a Hollywood kiss. Clean and crisp on the palette with a bright copper color, this fruity lager his a beautiful white head and easy carbonation. All in all, a very drinkable, memorable fruit beer.
It can be hard to find a well balanced beer that combines dynamic color, aroma and flavor in one bottle—unless you’re looking for it at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Their Boont Amber Ale reveals a smooth caramel flavor in its medium bodied, rich colored brew. A classically drinkable ale, its mild amber qualities are streaked with floral aromas, orange tints, and nutty flavors. Clocking in at 5.8% alcohol by volume, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. Seasoned beer drinkers, and novices looking to go out on a limb will both find solace in this delicious American amber ale. But don’t just take our word for it—Boont Amber Ale wone the silver medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival in the amber category and was named “best beer brewed in Northern California,” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
If you like your beer a little on the strong side, make a trip to Trader Joe’s and get yourself some Fat Weasel Ale. This light golden ale is a bright, bubbly brew with a walloping 7.10% alcohol by volume (ABV). This beer gives off a strong grain aroma and medium malt flavor that is not for weak beer drinkers. If you pay attention, hints of fruit will surface, but this beer isn’t going for gourmet achievement—it’s a straight up Strong American Ale style beer that tastes as good from the bottle as it does in a pint glass. Bottoms up!