5 “Must Drink” Beers Volume 6

Even though it has been awhile since my last must drink beers entry, my pledge to try, taste, and experience an enormous variety of beer has not wavered.  This entry is long overdue, however I am extremely excited to share with you this next set of beers, that I have enjoyed thoroughly, and believe you may as well.

Before I begin however I must provide my usual disclaimer.  This is simply my opinion, I will never claim to be right nor the master of your own taste buds.  These are simply beer experiences that I have enjoyed and would encourage people to investigate.  Formulate your own opinions, tell me I have damaged taste buds, or let me know I turned you on to a wonderful beer that you didn’t know existed.  Regardless, take these suggestions at face value and see whether or not you agree.  Most importantly, if you love beer take this entry as a persuasive element to get out there to try new beers and expand your own palate.

With that being said…

Let’s look at what is currently my favorite meme….:)



Ok, now we can begin!

Dr. Hoptagon
Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale
(Parish Brewing Company, Broussard, LA 7.5%ABV)
Beer Advocate Rating: 90
RateBeer Rating: 87
Untappd Rating: 3.88

Enjoying the good doctor at a recent beer tasting.

Enjoying the good doctor at a recent beer tasting.

While Cigar City Brewing remains the most popular craft brewery in the southeast region, the fact is many wonderful craft breweries are making their mark, and staking their claim in the craft beer market.  Lousiana’s Parish Brewing Co. is one such brewery that is putting itself on the map.  While they offer up many fantastic beverages their black IPA (an IPA sub-style that has become so popular that it will now be recognized by the BJCP) is easily one of my favorite offerings.

Black IPAs are a unique animal, and many beer drinkers are often caught up trying to decide whether this style should be hop forward with hints of dark malts, or vice versa.  In my opinion, what makes a fantastic black IPA is a beer that has the ability to do both.  It sends you on a journey that provides that hop bite that all hop heads crave, while still maintaining that dark malt backbone, that sets it apart from its IPA cousins.  While that seems like a simple undertaking, the reality is finding that balance is more difficult than one would expect.  Fortunately, the fine folks at Parish have done a wonderful job with this particular brew.  Now I will warn you this is an abrasive beer, it is purposely aggressive and not made for those whom are not capable of handling a heavy bitter hop profile.  That being said, the way that the aggressively hop forward bitterness, and the way the bitter, slightly burnt and roasted malt backbone blend together is fantastic.  The two different, yet somewhat similar flavor profiles work incredibly well together, and perhaps most importantly the finish is smooth.  Yes, the hop bitterness and dark malt notes linger, but they do so in a very pleasant and palatable way.

If you are looking for an aggressively hopped, yet well-balanced black IPA, Parish Brewing has created the perfect blend for you.  While it may be difficult to hunt down this black IPA gem from Louisiana, the reward will certainly justify the hunt!
Beerfiles Rating: 3.75 out of 5


Lil’ One
Style: American Strong Ale
(Maine Beer Co. Freeport, ME 9.1%ABV)
Beer Advocate Rating: 92
RateBeer Rating: 98
Untappd Rating: 4.01

Lil' One, is actually a big guy!

Lil’ One, is actually a big guy!

I’m going to say this right up front… Maine Beer Company can do no wrong….in my opinion.  I mean that sincerely, their beer is off the hook good.  Many of us are aware of Lunch, their phenomenal world-class IPA, but the truth is their entire lineup is incredible.  Lil’ One was  a beer from them that I stayed away from for awhile, simply because strong ales generally aren’t my favorite style.  I have to be in the mood for this particular style or I simply don’t enjoy them.  This beer broke that trend for me.  The first time I had this beer, I was convinced it was mislabeled, it simply did not remind me of a strong ale.  The hop profile was intense and incredibly fresh.  Maine Beer Co. is known for their incredibly fresh hop profiles, each of their beers is labeled encouraging drinkers to drink within 90 days of the bottling date in order to ensure that hop freshness.  Even still, knowing that “hop pop” was a staple of theirs, I was shocked to taste such a hop profile in a strong ale.

While the hop profile jumped out at me, (as Maine Beer Co. likes to say, is it a malty DIPA or a Hoppy Barleywine) the truth is this beer is dynamic and complex.  A very enjoyable malty sweetness follows the initial hop flavor and aroma resulting in the perfect cold weather beer.  Piney, pithy with hints of caramel toffee and candied fruits dance on the palate, reminding you why they call this a strong ale.  (A beer style very much open for interpretation.)

This beer is balanced, unique, and again proof of the high quality offerings coming out of Freeport Maine and the Maine Beer Co.  If you haven’t tried anything from Maine Beer Co.  I urge you to do so, if you have  but have not enjoyed Lil’ One….now is the time!
Beerfiles Rating: 4.2 out of 5


Mass Rising
Style: India Pale Lager
(Jack’s Abby Brewing Framingham, MA 8%ABV)
Beer Advocate Rating: 95
RateBeer Rating: 99
Untappd Rating: 3.96

Is it an IPL or a DIPL?

Classified as an IPL, personally sitting at 8% this is closer to a DIPL.  Regardless of what you want to call it, this beer is delicious.  Some people may be saying…but every entry has a Jack’s Abby!  Well perhaps I’m trying to lay down a subtle hint, after all Jack’s Abby was recently declared Massachusetts best brewery from the folks at Rate Beer!

Lager houses such as Jack’s Abby and Great Lakes have become more and more popular resulting in the rise of the popular IPL. (After all people want their hops regardless of an ale or lager)  Mass Rising is a particular unique IPL, that truly retains its lager-like characteristics even with its higher ABV.  The beer is crisp and refreshing, light enough bodied where it goes down incredibly easy and packs a massive hop punch.

I feel like the best way to describe the hop profile is just pure hoppiness.  Slightly resinous, hints of citrus, and a pinch of pine are noticeable, but mostly it is just a wonderful, natural, hop punch to the face.  This particular beer comes in at 100 IBUs and tastes every bit that bitter.

Mass Rising is a fantastically hoppy lager born from Jack’s Abby’s 2nd Anniversary Lager.  While the recipe has changed from its origins, the beer has morphed into one of my favorite offerings from JA, and is a must drink for all hop heads.
Beerfiles Rating: 4.3 out of 5


Style: American Wild Ale/Flanders Red
Wicked Weed Brewing Asheville, NC 8.5%ABV)
Beer Advocate Rating: 95
RateBeer Rating: 98
Untappd Rating: 4.11

Wicked Weed’s artwork is some of the best out there!

Only recently was I able to start tasting the Wicked Weed lineup.  I had heard wonderful things about their beer, and as a sour fan I was dying to check them out.  Fortunately the the beers lived up to the hype.  Just about every beer that I have tried from this brewing has been excellent, or at least well above average.  That being said, so far, Oblivion has easily been my favorite.  This is a very unique wild ale, aged in wine barrels with blackberries and dates.  While I have had many different sours, seeing as it is my favorite style, this was my first time having this particular combination, or any sour including dates for that matter.  Unlike many sours, the tartness in this particular beer is fairly subtle.  Often this is a major turn-off for me,  (Granted many people sensitive to, or avoidant of sours may appreciate this fact) however in this case the light tartness only helped build the complexity.  the tartness, mixed with the wine-barrel characteristics provide a wonderful backbone for this beer, and the fruity flavors from  the dates and blackberries create an incredibly unique flavor profile.  Even the finish is multi-dimensional as the tartness lingers but the fruit remains in the forefront.

Based on the sour level I was shocked to find out how much I enjoyed this beer.  This subtle tartness seems to be a calling card of their beers, as none of their sours are overwhelming tart.  For those trying to get acquainted with sours, I strongly suggest checking out this brewing as their beers are extremely complex while still not overpowering you with a massively tart profile.
Beerfiles Rating: 4.3 out of 5


One Claw
Style: American Pale Ale
(Westbrook Brewing Mount Pleasant, SC 5.5%ABV)
Beer Advocate Rating: 89
RateBeer Rating: 97
Untappd Rating: 3.81

A fantastic beer to drink on a hot summer day!

A fantastic beer to drink on a hot summer day!

Since I am writing this entry in the dead of summer, I figured it would be appropriate to include at least one beer that would be refreshing on a hot summer day.  This pale ale from the fine folks at Westbrook Brewing, certainly fits the bill.  This tasty brew is somewhat hop forward using a combination of amarillo, nelson sauvin and citra hops. For the record, I find nelson sauvin hops to be one of the most difficult hops to use in brews.  Known for giving off a grape-like almost white wine characteristic, these hops are very easy to overuse and must be used with great restraint.  Fortunately this beer does exactly that!

Another fantastic aspect of this beer is their generous use of rye malt.  While I wouldn’t go as far as to call this a straight up rye pale ale, the rye certainly adds a palatable spiciness to the beer.  Once you combine the beers drinkable ABV, complex hop profile and light spiciness, it becomes clear why this beer is an ideal beverage for those hot summer days.
Beerfiles Rating: 3.75 out of 5

So there you have it!  It took a long time coming, but finally the 6th edition of must drinks beers.  Enjoy the suggestions and as always let me know what you think!


Tags: american pale ale, American Strong Ale, beer, black IPA, , , homebrew, , , , , , , , , , , nelson sauvin, , one claw, , rye beer, rye pale ale, sour beer, Strong Ale, , , , Westbrook brewing,

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