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Your "Go To" Beer?

One of the biggest decisions I have to make is what kind of beer to drink when at a bar or restaurant. Living in NJ, my favorite brewers are Victory, Flying Fish and Dogfish, so i enjoy many of the brews offered by these wonderful brewers when I am at home.

It's rare that I see these on tap though (or available at all). Usually, a Sierra Nevada wil be on tap, and that's what I would order. (Thankfully, since this is one of my favorite beers!)

So, i am asking, what is your "go to" beer, when the pickings are slim outside of Coors-Coors Light-Miller-Miller Lite, Bud-Bud Light, Heineken, and Corona?

Also, do you find yourself bored with the typical beer offerings at many restaurants?

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  1. So you are asking if all they have is macros what should you get? If they have Sam Adams Ill get that. If they have Guinness Ill get that. If all they have is Miller/Bud/Coors on tap Ill ask what bottles they have. Its pretty rare that no place has at least one passable bottle of beer available. Especially now that A-B/InBev has distributor deals with some decent breweries/beers. I went to a dive bar the other day that had very little on tap but had Leffe in bottles which suited me fine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Insidious Rex

      Ditto on the Guinness. I have also been finding Stella Artois and Spaten lager to be more readily available.

    2. Living in Montreal, I tend to order Coup de Grisou wherever I see it (that is, if I am not somewhere which brews it's own beer in-house). It's really buckwheat-y and goes well with most any food. If I am out of town, I will try to order something local. I don't have any go-to beer that you can find on tap just anywhere, unfortunately. If I had a gun put to my head, it would have to be Rickard's White, cause I love Blanche beers.

      1. SNPA is my fallback if nothing else interesting is a available, and it's a good beer. But for the most part, I only patronize businesses that support local and craft breweries, so I rarely find myself in that position. You might check beer advocate or ratebeer.com for a list of bars/ restaurants in your area that carry craft beer. Or check your local brewer's website, they may have a list of places that carry their beer.

        1. Guiness, Sam Adams, and Sierra Nevada are all over the place and I like all of these so U rarely have a problem. Barring that, if I have to go with a wine, a glass of Shiraz or a Spanish red is always welcome as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: The Professor

            I agree with the professor, not necessarily the order, but the list..great beer there..

          2. I can usually find a Sam Adams Boston Ale or even Geary's Pale Ale on run-of-the-mill menus around here. If all they've got is crap macros I'm probably in the wrong place - but if I really want a beer I'd opt for Bud over Miller and Coors only if it's free and I'm desperate.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Kinnexa

              I agree. I'm kind of a beer geek and find that I choose where to go eat based on their beer list mose so then the menu, but I'm fortunate to live near at least 3 brew pubs and 4 or 5 top notch beer bars/gastropubs

              1. re: Chefmonty

                Ditto that.... go to is smithwicks, after that guinness, then probably sam. But if they have anything i haven't tried before, I get that first.

            2. Hoegaarden is still good despite its extremely wide distribution. I even drink it at home, great fro hot weather (if we ever getthat again)

              17 Replies
              1. re: kenito799

                Yeah, imho that's a great beer. Much better than Rickard's White, which is a watered-down white beer attempt that has similar availability here in Canada. If I was at a restaurant that didn't have a good beer selection, I'd probably opt out of getting a beer and wait until I got home to open up a choice bottle. :) If I really had to drink, I'd settle for Heineken...even though it always tastes skunky to me.

                1. re: flowbee

                  I've heard the skuniness is a consequence of those green bottles.

                  1. re: chuckl

                    That's right. Skunking is caused by specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light that cause reactions in hop compounds. A can or keg obviously gives the most protection. Amber glass is pretty good, green not so good, and obviously clear isn't good at all. Miller High Life is made with special hop extracts that don't contain the offending chemical component. I expect this is true of Corona as well, but I don't know for sure.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                      From what most educated beer drinkers I know can tell Corona does not have hops or barley in it. At least none that we can taste.

                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                        I think you're pulling our leg again.
                        My two cents: Sam Adams seems to be getting fairly common. It's decent in a bottle or on tap.
                        I don't know why restaurants can't do a little better with their selection. Some do (some don't), just like some restaurants offer only one red and white from a box and others have a nice cellar full of bottles.
                        I am most puzzled by Asian restaurants who think just offering Tsingtao is good enough.

                          1. re: JanPrimus

                            I was not talking to you, JP. I agree Corona is tasteless.

                            I was responding to Jim Dorsch, who said, "Skunking is caused by specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light that cause reactions in hop compounds." and "Miller High Life is made with special hop extracts that don't contain the offending chemical component." Dang, they have special hop extracts just so they can have clear bottles!
                            While this might all be be true, it seems more empirical. Jim, Do your beers sit around getting sun tans?

                            1. re: Scargod

                              Sunlight is not required. Even brief exposure to fluorescent light can do it.


                              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                I apologize. I really wasn't sure that you were not pulling our (collective) leg, when I said it. What can I say? I'm just one of those big-mouthed, dumbass Texans.

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  Isomerized hops and hop extracts have long been used in order to reduce the light-struck effect in clear and green bottle beers. And Jim is correct...a beer not brewed with isomerized hops/extracts can become light struck very quickly in strong sunlight (even in your glass!!) and if in clear or green bottles and without isomerized hops, the reaction takes place with exposure to the flourescent lights in many refrigerated display cases.

                                  1. re: The Professor

                                    It's amazing what marketing can do to popular tastes, convincing the unwitting public that beer actually is supposed to taste skunky. Hopefully as great microbrews proliferate and are more widely distributed people's palates will evolve. Here in the Bay Area, 21st Amendment has begun canning their beers. Is that happening elsewhere so far as anyone knows?

                                    1. re: chuckl

                                      Surly, in Minnesota has always canned their beers. Big Sky has recently started. Ska, in Colorado cans their beers. From what I hear, it has a lot to do with the popularity of Disc Golf. Oh, and New Belgium now cans Fat Tire.

                                      1. re: chuckl

                                        21st Amendment now sells in Virginia. and of course we have Oskar Blues as well.

                                        1. re: chuckl

                                          Sly Fox in PA cans some of their beers as well.

                                          1. re: chuckl

                                            "Is that happening elsewhere so far as anyone knows?"

                                            The small canning systems being used by some craft brewers are sold by a company called Cask- their customer list can be found here - http://www.cask.com/main/index.php?pa... Of course, this does not include craft beers canned under contract by old-line breweries, like 21st Amendment and their deal with Cold (for a time known as "Gluek") Spring or the elusive Brooklyn Lager cans from F X Matt, etc.

                          2. I go for the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale like many of you. As in contrast to many here...I will skip the Sam Adams and the Guinness every time.

                            Sam Adams usually is too malty for my taste. Some of the other SA brews just have qualities that I don't normally like.

                            Guinness I just think is a very low end stout. There are so many more interesting stouts out there that I have had and getting a Guinness always ends up being a disappointment to me. Having a lot of Bell's Stouts in the paste has ruined me.

                            If its Macro, SA or Guinness.... I get the water or leave (only if I am on my own).

                            22 Replies
                            1. re: JanPrimus

                              Guinness has been hideously dumbed down over the years. In, say, the 1950s, it was a vastly different beer (according to people like Bert Grant and Michael Jackson, who knew the brew back then). In fact, I think it was better in the 80s than it is today. If I were to give today's Guinness a blind tasting, I'd never imagine that it was any sort of stout.

                              Any of the good microbrewed stouts of today - say, Rogue Shakespeare, Ipswich Oatmeal, or San Quentin Breakout Stout - is infinitely tastier (and stoutier) than Guinness.

                              1. re: Kenji

                                Michael Jackson was a child in the 1950s.

                                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                  he was born in 1942. in 1958, he was 16. he could have been drinking guinness at that age, no?

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    True, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't drinking beer critically at that time.

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      Right. Jackson repeatedly recalled his youthful drinking experiences in his articles. For example, in the late 90s, he wrote an article called "Pints of Chocolate" in which he praised The Porter House for their "firm, oily, bitter-tasting" Wrassler's, which "recalls the Guinness of my uncompromised teenage years."

                                      He was obviously sufficiently critical as a teenager to remember the beer's character all those decades later.

                                  2. re: Kenji

                                    There is no one "Guinness", so saying *it* has been dumbed down ignores the fact that people are talking about different beers. The "Guinness Draught" (the "dumbest" one) didn't exist until the late 1950's (IIRC) and wasn't available in the US until even later. In the 1940's, Guinness made 4 beers, Porter (a draught beer for the Irish market), Extra Stout (sold in the UK and Ireland), Foreign Extra Stout (shipped around the world, including the US) and Export Stout (Europe). In the same time period, in the US, Guinness brewed Extra Stout for the domestic market in NYC, while still exporting the Foreign Extra Stout to the US (which continued to be the only Irish-brewed Guinness shipped to the US until the 1960's, at least).

                                    Estimates for the differently named and/or reciped Guinness stouts today put it at 17 to 19 different "stouts", and that doesn't include the recent "250th Anniversary". In addition, many of the various stouts' recipes have changed greatly throughout the years, of course. In the US, the Extra Stout in bottles we get are contract-brewed in Canada (by Labatt or Moosehead, depending on bottle size and region) and are reportedly a standard beer with the addition of "Guinness Essence". It doesn't taste like the Irish-brewed Guinness ES I recall from the '80's to me, either, and the ABV is often stated to be lower, as well (various sources put the current version at 5-6%).

                                    1. re: JessKidden

                                      All I know is that a Guinness in Dublin tastes fantastic, whereas elsewhere, I can't really be bothered.....

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        totally agree - it is not the same outside the mother country!

                                        1. re: jbyoga

                                          Was in Dublin at the Guinness Gravity Bar and was expecting to experience a significant difference from what I'd had at home. Enjoyed it but there was no difference that I could tell.

                                  3. re: JanPrimus

                                    Can't see water over Sam Adams. They have a solid lineup of beers. Can't imagine you couldn't find something there you'd drink before water.
                                    Ahh, but taste is relative. I can drink most anything they brew before I'd go with water, or a Bud, Miller,etc.
                                    Sierra Nevada is my new God. Torpedo has given me a go to beer. The Pale Ale is a nice beer, but sorely lacking in, well, most everything. It's probably the amount of Torpedo I'm currently consuming, that gives me the courage to diss the Pale Ale. ;-)

                                    1. re: Bobfrmia

                                      I think your problem with SNPA is that we've all become so used to hugely hopped beers that a normal, hoppy ale isn't enough for us!

                                      I was thinking the other day about how stunningly hoppy Anchor Liberty Ale is, and how there are now so many beers that are stunningly hoppier. Where will it end?

                                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                        I remember my first taste of Liberty in the 80s. At the time, SNPA, the Catamount beers, and the Grant's beers were my regular drinks. The Liberty Ale seemed outrageously hoppy (in a good way), even in comparison to the Grant's brews, several of which were vigorously hopped.

                                      2. re: Bobfrmia

                                        Like I said...I find Sam Adams to be usually too malty. Some of the fruit beer have a very extract driven flavor, and generally have not found them to be enjoyable as other beers.

                                        As for SNPA. That is my everyday beer and will most likely stay that way for awhile.

                                        I am already starting to wear down on the overly Hopped Beers even though I was one of the biggest cheerleader of them in the last few years. I got a 6 pack of Hop Wallop from Victory last night and I still have 4 left (I feel so guilty). Maybe its the summer coming up on me that is demanding a more quaffable beer.

                                        1. re: Bobfrmia

                                          "The Pale Ale is a nice beer, but sorely lacking in, well, most everything."

                                          Your problem isn't with SNPA, it is with the "American Pale Ale" style in general. In my opinion APA is our finest contribution to beer; w/ Sierra Nevada's version still being the standard bearer. Lagunitas Pale is grand too imo.

                                          You have to ask yourself, are you looking for a well crafted beer or one more "heightened" than the last one.

                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                            I agree that SNPA is the standard bearer of its style.

                                            My current favorite example, though, would have to be Oskar Blues' Dale's Pale Ale.

                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                              I probably shouldn't have put it quite like that. I think after Harvest, Celebration, and Torpedo, I've been spoiled. As far as having a problem with the style, that would be hard, as the style is all over the place. When you put an Alpha King next to a Boulevard, you have 2 APA's that taste nothing alike.

                                              1. re: Bobfrmia

                                                True, the lines get blurred between styles (i.e. what makes Alpha King NOT an IPA?). But what essentially makes SNPA "lacking" to you? Is your judgment of SNPA relative to Torpedo or independant of it and other larger beers?


                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  I just don't get the hop flavor that I do with other pale ales. I usually drink Cascade Pale Ale as my session beer. It's a little thin, but I think it has more hop presence than SN. Maybe it's the type of hops. Don't know. My son swears by it, I just don't get much out of it.

                                              2. re: Chinon00

                                                Recently had Rubicon's "Monkey Knife Fight" APA for the first time, and was hugely impressed. That is an incredibly well-made beer.

                                                1. re: Josh

                                                  I'd buy the beer for the name alone. Brewers must be Simpsons fans.

                                              3. re: Bobfrmia

                                                Torpedo would be my current go-to brew if it were more widely available in my neck of the woods. It is a fantastic beer at a great price.

                                                If Celebration were year-round, it would be my go-to beer.

                                                1. re: Kenji

                                                  A local grocery store put Torpedo on sale for 6.99 for Memorial Day weekend. At that price I'll be lucky to remember anything this weekend.

                                            2. Newcastle newcastle newcastle. Sometimes Guiness. A pilsener if there is one, but that's rarer.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Cebca

                                                Oh, right -- nukie brown. Almost forgot about that one. I tend to pick Pilsner Urquell if available, or Stella. Anchor Steam's doable. But I do most of my beer drinking in Germany, where there's enough selection to make anyone happy. That is, when they finally understand that (bottled) Becks should be used as a cleaning product rather than drunk. Gross. Overhyped. Skank beer.

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  yeah, I never liked Beck's much (and actually I don't care for Heineken either but that's an emotional issue for some people so I tend to keep it to myself. oops!)

                                                  1. re: Cebca

                                                    Well, I believe taste is a personal thing, obviously. But when you're at a street fest (like the recent May 1, umm, 'celebrations' here in Berlin), and the only beer sold at any stand is Beck's, or Beck's Lemon / Orange -- for the people who really, really don't seem to like beer and should be drinking something else (chocolatini comes to mind '-D)... it's a pretty dark day. I actually walked for 20 min. past many beer stands w/only Beck's to find something, _anything_ else... sigh. Hype. Ain't nothin' you can do about it --

                                                    1. re: Cebca

                                                      Agree! Beck's and Heineken, both bleachhhhh!

                                                      Only time i ever enjoyed Heineken was on tap in Bonaire, Dutch Antilles. Don't know if it was different, or just fresher? Every time I have it in a bottle it tastes awful.

                                                2. i'll go for grolsch on tap. i am not a fan of sam adams, as it tastes too malty (as someone mentioned) and often has so many added flavor notes that it is not refreshing. (i'd rather eat an appetizer, ya know?). bottled beers where the selection is limited? i'm going for a heineken.

                                                  1. If nothing else is available...and I mean nothing... I'll go with a Coors Banquet beer. Maybe it's sentmental, but I grew up in Denver and when were 18 or so, we could get it for 2 quarts for a buck at the 3.2% stores Tasted great then..

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: chimay5

                                                      Funny thing about NJ - Coors Banquet is arguably one of the most difficult beers to find in bars. Personally, the thought of an icy cooler filled with those yellow cans fills me with a warm, nostalgic glee. What better way to wash the salt-water taste out of one's mouth and soften the dull sting of the sun's rays on the skin! "Yeah, it was pretty good today, but you shoulda been here yesterday . . ."

                                                      A place on the Boardwalk in Asbury Park has Banquet on tap, alongside many "quality" beers. I think it may have been 20 years since I had a draft Coors. I literally finished it in 2 sips - WOW!!!

                                                      As to the OP, I am not sure where you are in NJ, but at the Shore even the dumpiest dives are aware of two decades of micro/craft brewing. In fact, the Magic Hat beers are widely available (the new Summer beer with beet juice in it is surprisingly good - once you get past the pink color!). Moreover, Guiness family of beers are ubiquitous.

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        Coors Light is so ubiquitous these days that when I tell people that Coors Banquet is actually a perfectly acceptable beer, they never believe me.

                                                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                          I remember friends bringing it back to Dallas by the cases in the 70's. They thought it was that good.

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            coors i think used to have a major marketing campaign so that everyone was to believe that coors was so "gourmet" and upscale. brilliant marketing campaign, may i add. when i finally tried the beer, i thought, "what?!?!?"

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              the "Coors mystique" was quite a phenomenon. I remember back in the early 70's when it was "bootlegged" into NJ by enterprising distributors and sold for the same prices as beers at the higher end of import pricing . Oddly enough, in the midwest where I attended college for a few years, Olympia was afforded a similar treatment for a while.

                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                part of that was the idea of "rocky mountain spring-filtered water" iirc.

                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  In Dallas, where it can easily be over 100F in the summer, in 1968-1970, they were nice to slug down! Ah, that rocky mountain water!
                                                                  I think of them as Cool-Aid like now; in the Corona class.

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    Actually, even 39 years ago, we called it "Colorado Kool-Aid".
                                                                    I drank it if it was there, but there were enough decent and more robust beers available even way back then, that most of my beer friends ignored it and other beers of its type.

                                                        2. re: MGZ

                                                          Magic Hat 'Wacko', with the beet juice - color is strange, definately a nice summer brew. .

                                                          1. re: DrewBB

                                                            We found Wacko to be a good "food" beer, as well. The first pairing was with a pork burger. (I would think you'd appreciate this, Drew, your neighbor MD, too.) I ground boneless pork chops and garlic, stuffed the patties with brie, topped with cheddar, a thick slice of prosciutto, pineapple, green pepper, and onion (all grilled) and sauced with mayo and diced jalepenos. They were cooked over a wood fire (slightly over cooked, actually - probably got up to 160) and since this is Jersey, we had them on hard rolls.

                                                            Wacko was equally tasty with a bag of 7-11 Habanero potato chips!

                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                              Oh, I don't know how I failed to mention that Wacko also cosied up well with a late night Schaller-Weber goose liverwurst & onions snack. (Now I know - I think the beet juice may have dulled my memory!)

                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                It all sounds great! I wanted to pick up more Wacko this past weekend, but the shop I went to doesn't carry Magic Hat (or at least didn't have it that day). I did make a pretty good haul, along with a bag of Death Rain habanero potato chips! The only thing I've tried so far from this trip is Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat, very nice spice, good body & light finish, (helped cool of the chips nicely), and Stone Levitation Ale, very hoppy, almost grapefruit-like, nice malt, dry finish. Also had to pick up a case of my preferred 'lawnmower' beer, PBR's in bottles, from the only place in NJ that I know of that carries it in bottles, Oak Tree Buy-Rite, in South Plainfield.

                                                                1. re: DrewBB

                                                                  i really get a kick out of these names!

                                                      2. Yuingling for me, then Sam Adams, Modelo for a different taste, any good german beers if on tap, Leinekeugels, Sierra too and Fosters.

                                                        18 Replies
                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                          I discovered Yuengling on our road trip. Had it on three or four occasions. Damn decent beer.

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            MMMMMmmmm yes, Yuengling is delicious and always a treat to find since distribution is so limited. My boyfriend just moved to PA though, and I'm looking forward to some Yuengling when I go out to visit (though I've also been commanded to drink as much dogfish head as I can get my hands on).

                                                            1. re: Cebca

                                                              I joke that I was "weaned" on Yuengling, the Lord Chesterfield Ale, in particular. Having gone to college in Reading in the 80s, we would get six packs for $2.10! Others scoffed, due to the low price, but I loved it all (ale, lager, porter - YUM!).

                                                              That being said, if you find yourself in that part of PA, you should easily be able to find a wide selection of Stoudt's beer. Please, try them - Wonderful! The brewery, I believe, is in Adamstown, not far from Reading/Pottstown and well worth a visit.

                                                            2. re: Scargod

                                                              Definitely a front line beer, but alas not in Ohio yet. I'm down to 1 bottle from the 2 cases I got during my Turkey Day visit in Philly.

                                                            3. re: kchurchill5

                                                              I enjoyed the occasional FOSTER's for many years (especially the Ale).
                                                              Had one recently and it doesn't really seem to taste the same since Miller started brewing it in the USA.
                                                              Either that or my palate has just moved on...

                                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                                  I must not have been paying attention when they moved production of this 'Australian' beer from Canada to the US.

                                                                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                    The change caught me by surprise too...I'm not sure when it came about, but it's been so for at least a year, and probably a little longer. They list Texas and Georgia as the brewery locations. I notice they have re-branded the Ale in the process as well...used to be Special Bitter and now it's Special Ale. I guess that they figure Americans are afraid of the word "bitter".

                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                      The most amusing thing about the "Australian" Foster's now being brewed in the US is the "dba" name that Miller's picked for it- "Oil Can Breweries". (Don't believe me? You don't even need to get into their website- it's right their on the "age verification" page http://www.fostersbeer.com/AV/AgeVeri... ) I mean, I know that most of the marketing for the macro brands is based on things other than taste (temperature, pop-top vent, 6-12-18-24-30 packs, etc), but to name the faux company after a nickname for the *can* the beer comes in?

                                                                      Of course, the "brewed under license" brand isn't all that uncommon in the US these days (and I guess the blowback from the now defunct Lowenbrau-Miller is so long ago, Miller choose to get back into the water) but Miller's lost the ability to proclaim "IMPORTED" on the label, like some of the Canadian-brewed Asian and European brands can. Miller-Fosters-Molson had some sort of minority ownership relationships (dating from Molson buying the old Carling company in Canada IIRC), which is how the confused 3 way deal for Fosters originated.

                                                                      I was just thinking how the ownership of the old "international" brand, Carling Black Label, has been affected by all the mutlinational mergers in the industry. The old "Carling-National" brands were bought by Heileman, so CBL went the familiar "Heileman>Stroh>Pabst, brewed by Miller" route in the US. In Canada, Molson bought the Carling-O'Keefe brands. In Canada, Coors wound up with CBL after buying the Bass brewery and some of the other Bass labels from InBev. But, of course, Miller's partnered with Coors in the US, and Molson's merged with Coors internationally. Not that I've had a Carling in 30 years (maybe I had an export bottle of it from that nice looking brewery on a lake outside Boston when I lived in MA. circa 1975)...

                                                                      1. re: JessKidden

                                                                        ...ir's a mess of confusion, isn't it?
                                                                        I'm afraid that the micro movement is starting to confuse consumers just as much though...we've gone from very little choice to a hopeless maze of choice. Not a bad thing bad to have choice certainly, but problem is that micro beer doesn't guarantee good beer either...and it's pretty expensive to find out!

                                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                                          There's been a rash of threads over on Beer Advocate about date coding beer, old beer on the shelf, etc., and the problem of TOO many choices, I think, is one of the causes of it. If craft beer is 5% of the total beer market in the US (tho' obviously higher or lower in particular markets) it seem to me that all those hundreds of craft beer brands are all fighting over that same tiny segment of the market. Every time a new beer enters a market (which happens almost monthly here in NJ) it no doubt means the current craft beers already on the shelf are going to sell fewer cases. No Bud Light drinker has just been waiting for, say, Summit (the most recent entry I can think of) to reach the East Coast. Instead, someone who was going to buy a Brooklyn or Flying Fish or Victory beer might pick it up.

                                                                          Coming from the pre-craft beer era, I'm still a bit shocked at the far-flung distribution some on these relatively small breweries enjoy. I read PA drinkers who recommend Lagunitas, Oregon drinkers who like Dogfish Head, Texas drinkers who are looking for Troegs, Georgians drinking New Belgian, etc., and I think "Gee, I was sorta hoping the rise of craft meant the return of the "local brewery"." There was a very good reason why the "national brewers" eventually had a chain of breweries across the country and why the "regional" breweries were, well, "regional".

                                                                          I can understand the distribution of certain "specialty" beers beyond a "local" or "regional" market but in recent years I've seen decidedly "average" craft brews from Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, California, etc., hit the shelves in my area and think, "Why?" Easily 75-80% of my beer comes from NJ and it's neighboring states (PA, NY and DE). The rest is scattered imports and I do buy the seasonal S-N beers (yeah, from California) or a "new" beer with a good rep. The latter just to say I've had it (and since it's new to the market, usually fresh) but it'll never find a spot on my regular rotation.

                                                                          Next time I'm in New Orleans, I'll gladly have an Abita draught or be happy to have some Bar Harbor Real Ale on a lobster dock in Maine- otherwise, I'll drink local.

                                                                          1. re: JessKidden

                                                                            The craft segment is growing, so a certain amount of new product in an area could be absorbed by that w/o taking sales away from the other brands.

                                                                            I generally favor a local footprint, but certain breweries have done well nationally, which could relate to reputation, and also whether the brand has representation. But to shoot a decidedly average brand around the country with no one to stand behind it and sell it is not a recipe for success. This happened a lot during the craft boom that ended in an implosion in the late '90s or early '00s (I can never remember dates), and the result was a lot of dusty beer on store shelves.

                                                                            It's fun when traveling to try local beers, and I can't do that if they're all available everywhere. Sort of like when you travel all the stores are the same these days.

                                                                            1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                              I'd like to see (if they exists) stats on the number of craft beer *buyers* (as opposed to the percentage of craft beer sales vs. total beer market). I tend to think that craft beer drinkers, on the whole, buy and drink less beer, so it is most likely that craft beer drinkers are much a greater percentage of the total of beer buyers than the "5%". The craft drinker, for the most part, isn't going through a 30-pack of whatever every two days.

                                                                              Of course, there seems to be a great "overlap" if one reads the "defenders of macros" who "always have Miller High Life/Budweiser/Pabst in their 'dedicated beer' fridge' ...". I still recall not too long ago being in a retailer with a great selection of craft beers and extensive imports and overhearing two customers as they picked up various crafts (Brooklyn 750's, assorted Belgians, Founders, etc.) and commenting on them. I wandered into the wine section and when I returned to the beer, they had "settled" on a choice of buying a case of either of two beers- Fosters or Red Stripe. Oh, well.

                                                                              Still, it seems to me that a LOT of the craft beer market (or perhaps it's only the internet branch of the craft beer geekery?) is ruled not just by a desire for variety (which is understandable- that's what got most of us here to begin with) but also the "latest thing" (highest abv, greatest IBU, barrel aged, non-traditional addition, etc). "Style" vs. "fashion" in a way. I think the attraction of the new/distant brewery is also part of that.

                                                                            2. re: JessKidden

                                                                              JessKidden Said: Coming from the pre-craft beer era, I'm still a bit shocked at the far-flung distribution some on these relatively small breweries enjoy.

                                                                              Ive noticed this the last few years as well. In fact Ive visited many a brewery based on the fact that Ive tried and been impressed by their beers which I picked up in a store or at a bar down the street from me although perhaps 3,000 miles from the brewery itself. Does this mean that distributorship is better than ever? I mean to move something so perishable to far flung back woods mom and pop stores and little divey bars out in the country so thoroughly and impressively by the thousands. How do they do it really?

                                                                              The wife and I have always been big fans of Old Rasputin Stout so last year we actually managed to make our way out to Fort Bragg to visit North Coast Brewing and the adjoining restaurant/pub. And I simply have to ask HOW IN THE WORLD DO THEY GET SO MUCH BEER OUT OF THERE!? Visiting that place is an ordeal. Its stuck up against the Pacific cliffs and the only access are a few insane logging roads that even under the most ideal weather conditions require you to creep along at single digit speeds. And yet they have product EVERYWHERE. Do they fly the stuff out? Its seriously not an easy place to get in and out of with a ton of beer on a truck I would think. How they keep the volume of beer they distribute moving all around the country and beyond is a mystery to me.

                                                                              For that matter how does Sierra Nevada get THAT much beer out of a little northern California town like Chico to the rest of the world in such quantity? What are they fourth on the list as far as production? Fifth?

                                                                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                What about Vermont's Long Trail Ale? It is amazing how much they produce and distribute.
                                                                                I remember another...., no..., I've had an old age brain fart. It is, too, in VT and looked like it was made in a small barn. Could it be... Long Trail??

                                                                              2. re: JessKidden

                                                                                I havent seen you mention any jersey beers. I lived in the Caribbean for a couple years when I was 19-20, so my beer taste buds was weaned on real imported carlsberg !! Creamy and little sweet in retrospect especially in conparison to the only other beer there was real Heineken - also good - more crisp. So then for 20 yrs in Jersey, I found the real Ballantine ale !! Returnable bottles !! Now that skunky smell was the real ale !! LOL Unfortunately, as Ballantine has gone from one location to another - it appears to have a slightly different brew. Although a couple years or so after it 1st left Newark, they attempted to reverte to the original recipe. definitely better, but never again the same.

                                                                                I have a lot of friends over the years who never bought it themselves, but they sure liked it when at my house !! LOL Maybe because it was a bit more expensive.

                                                                                Anyway - what is the best inexpensive non-bud/coors/miller beer / ale - under $22 a case? There are a bunch of great next level priced local beers $28-$32. You know Im old - but it doesnt seem that long ago, when I could get a case of Bally ale for 9.99 on sale (reg 11.99) Now that was beer you could drink and not worry that you fell asleep !! LOL Hate to do that with a Sam Smith or something like that !!

                                                                                1. re: katahdin

                                                                                  In Cali, you can get Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Celebration for about $25 a case

                                                                  2. Funny, I guess I tend to frequent places that have a decent enough beer selection that I don't have this problem too often. Luckily, if nothing else, there's usually Yeungling (we just call it "lager" in the Philly area). I still enjoy the Sierra Nevada which is nearly ubiquitous everywhere too, but always satisfying. Oh, I've also recently ordered the Bud American Ale, when at a sporting event where the ONLY thing available was AB products.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: sadiefox

                                                                      Yuengling is great compared to macrobrews, and for the same cost - I've tried calling it lager many times in NYC only to get confused looks, but a large amount of places have it.

                                                                      1. re: sadiefox

                                                                        Was in Philly last weekend - man you guys have amazing beers. Went to a bar, seemed like a pretty standard pub, not a single beer on tap that I had heard of except for Magic Hat #9, which even still is a microbrew. And they were all so cheap! You're so spoiled! Drank a lot of Yuengling all weekend, tried a Troeg's Nut Brown Ale at the bar, had some of my boyfriend's #9 . . . so many I want to try again when I go back!

                                                                        Oh yeah, also drank some car bombs made with a local stout . . . mmmmmmmmmm

                                                                      2. we just enjoyed a couple of "local"-ish beers down in richmond, virginia on saturday, on tap at the hard shell restaurant down in the shockoe slip:
                                                                        Legend Lager -- light, a little weissbeir-like in feel (though don't know why, from the ingredients), tasty! a richmond brewery http://www.legendbrewing.com/beerLoc.asp
                                                                        Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale -- typical i.p.a. style, and my first taste of the dog. will try others from this maryland brewery when i see them, based on this good first impression. http://www.flyingdogales.com/Default....

                                                                        1. Here in Cali I go for Stone. Everything they do is awesome.

                                                                          1. I'm a Murphy's Stout drinker. Steinlager and Caledonian 80/- are my backup beers.

                                                                            1. Anything in a real Cask 1st or tie between Green Flash West Coast IPA/Bear Republic Apex

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: CAMRA

                                                                                While I can't get either of those in Iowa, I was fortunate to get hold of some GF West Coast IPA from my son in law. Wow!
                                                                                Now I have to find Apex.

                                                                              2. i've recently enjoyed the variety pack from flying dog ales; though i hate their "hunter thompson-"gonzo"-schtick with the "raging bitch" name, and scribbly drawings, etc. their marketing is, i admit, pretty much beside the point. still....

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                  How can you not appreciate Ralph Steadman's illustrations??? It's not like the ties are inauthentic:


                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                    like beer, it's a matter of individual taste.

                                                                                2. Since I'm near the brewery, I will oft go with Firestone Double Barrel Ale (their two taprooms sell an unfiltered version that is amazing- growler time!). A lot of local watering holes and restaurants carry it on draught, so it's irresistable; I avoid the bottles.

                                                                                  Outside of that, if Stella Artois is available, I'm spending time with her.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Aircooled

                                                                                    That's unfortunate, the Stella part I mean.

                                                                                  2. Since Fat Tire is for the most part everywhere, it's usually that. If not that, Newcastle.
                                                                                    And since I live in Asheville, it's nice to have Highland's Gaelic Ale as a regular item on the draft/bottle lists.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Chrisan

                                                                                      I love Highland Gaelic Ale and the St. Theresa's. I only get it once a year and that's only if we happen to vacation in N.C.

                                                                                    2. Pilsner Urquell. Ain't nothing like the original.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: tevis

                                                                                        It's a good beer. It doesn't get a lot of love among the beer snobs anymore and it has changed a bit from what it once was... but I will agree that it is (in my opinion anyway) than most beers that call themselves a Pilsner.

                                                                                        You'll get as many opinions on it as there are beer lovers, though. Taste is so subjective...

                                                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                                                          A lot of commenters seem to get "skunked" or at least stale/old Pilsner. Obviously, none of it here is super-fresh, especially the bottled stuff, but 95% of the time I still get a Pilsner Urquell with great aroma and that beautiful soft put pungent floweriness from the hops. I happen to live in Seattle (port, cool weather, etc) thinking maybe I'm just luckier to get beer that hasn't been put through the furnace and shelved forever.

                                                                                          Your beer snob comment is right on, but I'm no big fan of most American microbrews. There are some great ones, for sure, but so much of it is just way over the top. Good beer is about complexity and drinkability, not setting records for shocking taste buds.

                                                                                      2. I like anything I've tried by Bells or Founders the brewers of Dirty Bastard, but since
                                                                                        my first bottle of the German import Paulaner Salvater Double Bock I've been hooked.
                                                                                        I've had Paulaner before, but only the Pilsner types at German fests around the area.
                                                                                        The Salvater is a thick dark flavorful ale.

                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: mikemcg62

                                                                                          But it's not something one would drink all night, right? Doppelbock? Whoa.

                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                            I don't know why not? I'm sure there's a lot of guys that drink Guinness all night?
                                                                                            But I might not get back in the truck after finishing off a six pack to go get another...LOL

                                                                                            1. re: mikemcg62

                                                                                              I think the Doppelbock might be stronger than Guinness, but then I've never drunk either all night long...

                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                Paulaner Salvator is 7.9 and Founders dirty bastard which is a Scotch Ale is 9.5,
                                                                                                I think most of the Bells are in the 7.0 range, but would you rather drink a Bud?
                                                                                                Not me.
                                                                                                I looked at a site that said there are some double bocks that go 13.0% by volume.
                                                                                                Like you said....Whoa

                                                                                                1. re: mikemcg62

                                                                                                  For me, it's not a choice between Doppelbock and a Bud. I can't think of a situation where I would drink a Bud, really. Might as well drink water instead.

                                                                                                  But I like to drink beer, and when I do, it's gonna be quite a few. I cannot imagine drinking Doppelbock all night. I like it on occasion, just like a dark wheat or a black beer.

                                                                                                  But in general, any flavorful pilsener will do (Jever, Wernesgrüner, etc.).

                                                                                          2. re: mikemcg62

                                                                                            Not a huge fan of the double bock, but anything with the Bell's label is gold, Jerry. Gold.

                                                                                            1. re: JohnE O

                                                                                              Your right John, Bells is good!
                                                                                              Their Two Hearted Ale is very good, but it is a IPA and I like the heavy ales a little more.

                                                                                              1. re: JohnE O

                                                                                                The Bell's beers I've tried -- Two Hearted Ale, Eccentric Ale, Expedition Stout -- were just amazing. How I'd like to have regular access to 'em, all those fabululous-sounding stouts!

                                                                                            2. my Go-To Brew is Red Tail Ale. It's not as dramatic as some but is rich and refreshing and not hard to find out West.. love Deschutes' Black Butte Porter. Out here,you can always find Sierra Pale and if you just spent a hot day on a dusty construction site, Sierra Pale is gonna save you. Sierra Porter is the best cooking beer,try it in Turkey gravy,about any good AmberAle or Porter works nicely instead of Chablis.,Red Tail on Red Snapper on garlic butter rice is a favorite cassarole

                                                                                              When in the midwest, I was MUCH impressed by Edmund Fitzgerald and Dogfish Head 90 min IPA (which is a bit complex for an "everyday" )

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: rerem

                                                                                                The Mendocino beers (Red Tail Ale, Black Hawk Stout, Eye of the Hawk strong ale, and the winter porter) are okay. I have fond memories of drinking them, since they were part of my entry to the world of good beer in CA. in the 80s -- even though I eventually came to favor the cleaner, more focussed products of Sierra Nevada and St. Stan's.