In this month’s Imbibe, I undertook a Herculean task: to select 50 of the most cultish beers in the world, plus their worthy understudies. As we all know, this is impossible. Any list is guaranteed to incite readers, many of whom will sing the hosanas of their favorite beers that they felt were left out. That’s the challenge of lists like these. You have a finite number of slots to fill, and you can’t include anyone. You are also trying to be fair and balanced, providing a great range of beers across the country, as well as the world. I’d love to show you the fruits of my labor and have you weigh in, but, well, the article is print-only. Alas! To tide you over, here’s a list of upcoming cult-beer releases. Do let me know if you get your hands on a copy, though.
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My Current Top 5 Beers
1) Deschutes Brewery Red Chair NWPA: Step aside, Sierra Nevada Celebration. My new favorite hoppy winter seasonal hails from Deschutes. Red Chair pours out radiant copper, releasing a heady perfume of citrus and fresh-baked biscuits. It's a touch of spring in the depths of winter.
2) Allagash Coolship Cerise: I feel guilty writing about Cerise. The spontaneously fermented beer is bottled in insanely small batches and is only sold at the brewery in Portland, Maine. But if someone offers you a taste of Cerise, greedily accept it. Made with cherries, the beer is tart, fruity perfection.
3) The Alchemist Heady Topper: Ladies and gentlemen, meet the East Coast's answer to Russian River's Pliny the Elder. Vermont-brewed Heady is a dank, deeply resinous double IPA. It's a fresh, unfiltered exploration into the almighty power of hops.
4) Maine Beer MO: Over the last few years, this little Maine brewery has made big waves with its hop-forward ales such as Peeper and the resinous Lunch IPA. My pick? MO, a piney, citrusy pleasure with a surprisingly dry finish.
5) Smuttynose Wheat Wine: Forget barley wines: This winter, I'm drinking wheat wines, which are boozy beers made with a measure of smooth, calming wheat. Smuttynose's citrusy, vanilla-scented offering is among the best of the bunch. It drinks with a pinch of caramel sweetness, while crisp bitterness and smooth oak balance out this luscious slow sipper. One note: It gets even better with age.