One of my favourite things about living in the States so far is that the bountiful presence of micro-brew beer, and the ease with which it can be obtained. A three-minute walk puts me in the front door of a neighbourhood deli offering some decent standards like Guinness, Red Stripe, and Corona. For a only a slightly longer walk or bike ride, I can be treated to a bamboozling beernocopia the likes of which I have only ever seen approximated when I lived in Chicoutimi, Quebec for five weeks, where you can buy bottles of ultra-micro-brew that look like the guy around the corner just slapped a label on and surreptitiously left them on the rack.
One of the first beers I sampled here (other than the ubiquitous and usually cheapest of the cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon) was Smuttynose brewing co’s Pumpkin Ale ($9.99 for a six pack of bottles), which I bought because I like pumpkin pie, and because I’m wishing fall would get here already and banish the summer heat. Without much pumpkin taste, and a strange, metallic aftertaste, I definitely wouldn’t try it again. Same goes for Smuttnose’s Star Island Single, a Belgian style pale ale, which I bought because I didn’t like any of the other beers at the bar and it had a mermaid on the label–slightly malty, not too interesting, wouldn’t drink it again.
Lest I give the impression of being a negative Nancy, I can list three beers I can unreservedly recommend: the first, Geary‘s Hampshire Special Ale, a great all-round toasted “drink it all night” beer. As a lover of stout, I have been trying to get myself out of the habit of just ordering a pint of whatever the stout on tap is, so that I expand my horizons a bit, but fortunately I bucked the trend-bucking trend last night and got a pint of O’Hara’s Irish (or Celtic) Stout. Apparently this brew won a prestigious international stout award in 2000, and I’m not too surprised by the fact as it was delicious, creamy, slightly smokey and satisfying the way only a stout can be. It might well replace Guinness as my fall-back stout if it were more common.
Last, though I only had a sample of it at reBar last night, I’m definitely going to make the trek back just to get a full pint of Goose Island brewing’s Bourbon County Stout, which has garnered an incredible 861 reviews (as of this writing) on Beeradvocate.com. Unfortunately difficult to get your hands on, this 13% a.b.c. beer is brewed in bourbon casks, imparting an unmistakably wonderful aroma and taste. Visit the brewery’s interactive map to see if you can get ahold of this marvel without undertaking the otherwise obligatory pilgrimage to Chicago.