Pliny the Younger, Russian River: It’s only available for one week out of the year, and when I was there back in 2010 the brewery sold out on the day of release. The massive IPA was available at other beerfests in the region (that week only), and at select breweries nationwide … this beer may very well be the hardest to get your hands on in the world. If you can’t get your hands on this one, it’s brother – Pliny the Elder – is available year-round.
Double Bastard, Stone Brewing: It shouldn’t be taken lightly, because it will kick your ass if you’re not ready. It’s woody and extremely warming with a heavy caramel flavor that is followed by a deeply-cooked citrus flavor – almost like the juice from a grapefruit rind. This beer packs as much malt as it does hop, as much sweet as bitter.
Hopsickle, Moylan’s Brewery: The instant you stick your nose into the glass, you know where the beer gets its name. There’s nothing subtle about this aroma. It’s hops, hops, and more hops. There’s nothing subtle about the hop bang you get right from the first sip. Allow yourself to savor a bit, and you’ll find out the citrus hint from the aroma turns into a pop of bitter grapefruit that lingers slightly after the swig is swallowed.
Pranqster, North Coast Brewing Co: A strong golden ale that pours even more rust-orange than golden, to be honest. It’s sweet and bread-like up front, but packs a spice not usually associated with a golden ale. It’s perhaps the only beer of its kind that has enough alcohol to warm your core, and it more than stacks up to it’s more-hoppy counterparts.
Mephistopheles’ Stout, Avery Brewing Co: As dark as night itself, this molasses-like smooth stout doesn’t do much to hide it’s 16 percent ABV. It also has a sweet side, that caresses the lips like that … well, you’re not really allowed to tell, are you?