While Americans have been drinking microbrews for more than two decades, the artisan ale trend has become a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. From centuries-old German cloisters to forward-thinking Spanish breweries, top-shelf craft beers are popping up in the unlikeliest of places -- and bringing with them exciting new innovations and flavors. Check out GAYOT's global selection of beers to discover small-batch lambics, monk-brewed doppelbocks and more.
Brasserie St. James Red Headed Stranger
SAISON / FARMHOUSE ALE
The Reno-based Brasserie St. James was founded in 2012 and quickly distinguished itself through its lineup of world-class beers. The brewery showcases a slant towards Belgian-style ales, and its farmhouse-forward creations compare favorably with their counterparts across the Atlantic. This red saison is crafted with Brasserie St. James' signature Belgian yeast strain, and has additions of coriander, orange peel, grains of paradise and water from an artesian well located 285 feet below the brewhouse. The mix of ingredients results in a beer that is a cross between a red ale and a saison, with a dark ruby appearance, aromas of spice, noticeable malt and a dry peppery finish that's both refreshing and complex. The Red Headed Stranger won a gold medal at the 2013 U.S. Beer Championships and took home silver at the 2015 Best of Craft Beer Awards.
Squatters Outer Darkness
RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT
Outer Darkness is Squatters Pub Brewery's biggest beer, and its black label with two fiery red eyes hints at what's lurking inside. This stout is well-named, for it pours a jet-black hue with a dark brown head that allows no light to shine through. The wort is boiled for 3.5 hours to attain a rich caramelization that gives it an explosion of malty chocolate and sweet fig notes. The final pieces of the flavor puzzle are molasses and licorice root, which are added at the end of the boil. Your enjoyment isn't over after sipping, for a tingly and slightly bitter aftertaste with hints of licorice and coffee endures. Anyone who still believes that beers made in Utah are wimpy needs to take just one sip of this imperial stout to discover the truth.
Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel
One of the most highly regarded beers in the world, this double bock is brewed by Benedictine monks at the Kloster Andechs monastery in Bavaria. The brewery follows Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law), using only barley, water, hops and yeast. It pours a deep brown color with a reddish tint, and wafts aromas of caramel and malt. A full-bodied, robust flavor is highlighted by malty sweetness and cocoa, with dates and figs in the background. After sipping, a finish of chocolate pleasantly lingers for several seconds. This finely crafted beer is a prime example of the Benedictine brewing tradition that has endured at Klosterbrauerei Andechs since 1455.
HERBED / SPICED BEER
This beer comes from the Valencia region in eastern Spain -- a country not known for its strong brewing tradition. However, the makers of La Socarrada use the area's famed rosemary honey to great effect, infusing it in the beer's pilsner/amber malt blend. This intriguing, bottle-conditioned ale bursts with flavors of fresh-picked rosemary and honey, which are intermingled with nuances of black pepper, pear and apple. An enjoyable, extremely long aftertaste lasts for a full minute -- although we find it hard to wait that long before taking another sip.
Aged in oak and chestnut barrels for two years and mixed with fresh cherries, Vanburg & DeWulf's proprietary blend of hand-selected Belgian lambics is worth the wait. Upon pouring, you'll encounter a beautiful bright red hue with a pink frothy head. Aromas of cherry are quite noticeable, along with hints of oak and a musty Belgian farmhouse funk. Unlike many krieks that offer an abundance of sweet fruit flavor, Lambickx will make you pucker with its pronounced tartness and extremely dry finish. Be sure to take note of the label, which lists the brew year, bottle year, region, barrel type and number of bottles produced. This is a beer worth trying year after year, for each brewing season is different -- and each barrel boasts its own unique character that can never be replicated.
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