Fridays Are For Beer

Friday, November 10, 2006

Yet another lovely Friday in late Fall in Michigan can only mean it's time for today's Friday beer selection.

To mix things up a little today, I thought I'd do an Overrated/Underrated beer selection. Which beer doesn't stand up to the hype? Which is the best beer you're not drinking?

The most overrated beer may surprise you. It surprised me, for certain, as I lined-up beers and tried to figure which one, while still good (it is beer, afterall), just doesn't live up to the image it has portrayed.

This beer is a solid beer with a long history; over 300 years of history to be exact. It is drinkable, and is generally considered a "session" beer, meaning you can sit down and quaff one after another all night.

Don't get me wrong: this beer is a fine beer, but the image attached to it by millions in advertising dollars just doesn't hold up. It is the beer of choice for drinking establishments across the country (the world for that matter) who want to appeal to a more "sophisticated" drinker because this is marketed in a more sophisticated manner (even though it has a goofy ad campaign, it is based on a self-depricating humor meant to appeal to a "smarter" drinker, not a "farts-are-funnier" kind of drinker....farts are funny and always will be, by the way).

It also comes with a very cultural, simple feel but was honestly, from its very conception, absolutely meant to dominate an entire country's drinking habits.

For all that makes it (especially in the version available in the States) vaguely watered-down and lacking complexity among its closest competitors, it is still a drinkable beer that I enjoy in amazing amounts every week. It just doesn't live up to its "sophisticated" image nor its "uniquely homey" image and has honestly joined the world of the Macro-brews, which it was always meant to.

Most Overrated beer: Guinness.


The most underrated beer is one that ought to be proclaimed from the mountaintops, but is strangely hard to find despite how prolificly it is brewed.

This beer is from a brewery in Michigan that continually gets overlooked, but regularly has huge hits. It falls victim to the prolificness of Dragonmead, the challenge of Founders and the distribution power of Bells.

This beer is hugely complex. Pure dark roasted barley, big roasted flavor, backed up by a Chardonnay-oak flavor. Sticky-sweet vanilla with a hint of bourbon. Pure black, thick lacing. Imagine a vanilla latte.

Fine by lots of standards. The brewery itself projects no image at all, but stands by its truly impressive beers. The beers define who they are, not overmarketing. They are tragically underrepresented even in Michigan's beer market.

The best beer you're not drinking, but you damn-well better start:

New Holland's Dragon's Milk.

Of course, Blogger is not accepting images right now, but bear with me.

Buy this beer. Support this brewery. These guys need to know how outstanding their beers are. The microbrew market is a tough market, and guys with real winners need all the support and love they can get.
Check them out here.


Mike 12:25 PM  

I've never seen that beer on the East Coast. Have to try it if I get the chance.

I think, for the money, that Ommegang Ale is the best value/most underrated around. Tastes better than Chimay Grande Reserve, and comes at less than half the price.

Smitty 12:31 PM  

Excellent point, Mike. The brewers at Ommegang went on a trip to Belgium and cam eback converted. They have tried to replicate theuir favorite Belgian beers and I think they have done so and more.

Sopor 10:22 AM  

I couldn't agree more about the Dragon's Milk! It is an AMAZING brew! New Holland is easily one of my top three favorite breweries, with Bell's and Founders. Dragon's Milk is easily one of the best brews NHBC makes!

I opened my bottle of Blue Goat Doppelbock from NHBC over the weekend as well. Another AMAZING brew, I was very impressed!

And Mad Hatter? Come on... one word: Classic. Not the best IPA, even out of MI, but absolutely classic and good! I wish they still brewed Paleooza!

Mike 11:17 AM  

Oh, jeez, this brewery sounds great. A quality American Dopplebock is something I have to get my hands on.

Smitty 5:13 PM  


Totally right-on about the Blue Goat. As authentic of a doppel as I have tasted that wasn't German.


If you are interested in some New Holland brews, email me. I can get you some.

Sopor,  1:27 PM  

And that's somethin' comin' from a BJCP certified beer judge!!

Bob 3:09 PM  

I have had brews at the New Holland pub, but did not sample this one. Will try Dragon's Milk next time I am beer shopping.

May make a great stocking stuffer.

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