I've tasted hundreds and hundreds of beers over the past twenty years, from Keystone Ice to Sam Adams to Odell to Dogfish Head, and I've loved almost every one.
I love the craft brews, especially, and thank God they're around -- in force. But sometimes the hype about a certain beer or brewery just isn't warranted, doesn't match the beer.
I'm not saying the following six-pack of breweries are bad. Not at all. And I'll try them again at the Great American Beer Festival. I'm just saying they're overrated.
Dogfish Head, Milton, Delaware I know, I know, hit me over the head with a broken beer bottle if you want, but I have yet to find a Dogfish beer that didn't involve a grimace. Yes, they spend an amazing amount of time experimenting, designing recipes and crafting beers like no other. Still, they are so strong, so unusual, that I can't drink more than a couple of sips of any of them.
Russian River, Santa Rosa, California Pliny the Elder is a great beer, but it's not any better than half a dozen other IPAs in Colorado alone, let alone California. Temptation and Supplication are good, as well, and I would drink one any time. I just wouldn't knock myself out to do it. Too much hype.
Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, New York I've tried the beers from this brewery two years in a row at GABF, and have yet to find one that was better than average. They have a great reputation, but maybe that's because New York has so many people and is starved for in-state craft breweries.
Goose Island, Chicago, Illinois Chicago may be ahead of Denver when it comes to culture, skyscrapers, sports teams and pure might. But they're about ten years behind Denver when it comes to beer. The beers are good -- they remind me of the selection in Colorado in 2000 -- but need more time.
Bear Republic, Healdsburg, California Okay, I'll admit I've only had two beers from Bear Republic, Hop Rod Rye and Racer 5, but both consistently land in BeerAdvocate's upper echelons and in magazines, and I don't understand why. I can think of a dozen IPAs that are more balanced and more flavorful than Racer 5 and at least two rye IPAs -- Lenny's R.I.P.A. from He'Brew and Gubna from Oskar Blues -- that are much more enjoyable than Hop Rod.
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New Belgium, Fort Collins, Colorado Just to be fair, as a Colorado guy, I'll include a Colorado beer on this list. The world seems to crave Fat Tire, and that's fine. But I've never met a real craft-beer lover who drinks it. Take the Lips of Faith beers if you can find them. Fat Tire falls flat.