Beer talk with Alex Fisher: 10 beers worth trying

Beer talk with Alex Fisher: 10 beers worth trying

I’m overwhelmed, not necessarily in a bad way, when I arrive at the beer department at Fisher Foods on Fulton or any other well-stocked local beer emporium.

The explosion of craft beers has created a head-spinning array of options. Eager to try new beers, I’m reluctant to impulsively drop $10 or $12 or more on an uncharted six-pack. Fortunately, some bottles and cans may be purchased individually for adventuresome sampling.

Here, Alex Fisher, the man behind all things beer at Fisher Foods and a font of current craft-beer knowledge, picks 10 beers worth trying right now, listed in no particular order, and offers his thoughts on each. (I tried five from this list and each had a distinct flavor profile.)

1. L’Sbondance Saison from Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, Columbus, 7.5 percent alcohol. Fisher: “It’s like a mix of wheat and Belgian beer, but there’s almost a fruity spice to it, fruity from hops and spicy from the yeast. It’s easy to drink but there’s also a lot of body to it. Wolf’s Ridge is a great group of people, and (at their Columbus brewery) the food is off the charts. They’re known for more traditional beers, but they hit home runs with their IPAs.”

2. Husky IPA from Alaskan Brewing Company, Juneau, Alaska, 7 percent alcohol. “This is a single-hopped mosaic IPA. Mosaic is a very juicy, citrus-y hop variety that a lot of IPA fans love. Any beer can have multiple hops but this really showcases that one hop variety. Alaska is known for its clean water, and they have that as their source.”

3. Pennsylvania Tuxedo from Dogfish Head, Milton, Del., 8.5 percent alcohol. “This is more of a malt-forward pale ale, and the spruce tips add a nice subtle sweetness at the end. Dogfish Head has their own funky hotel that I plan to visit someday.”

4. Nugget Nectar Ale from Troeg’s Brewing Company, Hershey, Pa., 7.5 percent alcohol. “This is an imperial amber ale that comes out once a year and people go crazy for it. There’s a good maltiness from it being an amber ale, with a punch of hops. I’m a hophead, so this is my dream.”

5. Black Rajah from The Brew Kettle, Strongsville, 6.8 percent alcohol. “If you like (both) darker beers and IPAs, I would suggest it. It has all the roastiness of a porter or a stout, but it’s hoppy and more fruity. The Brew Kettle is a solid, amazing brewery out of Ohio, one of the many.”

6. Sliderule Chocolate Raspberry Gase from Urban Artifact, Cincinnati, 4.9 percent alcohol. “This is a sour beer, which is a type of fermentation that was started in Belgium. Sliderule is sweet and sour, like a tart dessert where you’re puckering a little bit at the end.”

7. Inverness Scottish Ale from Columbus Brewing Company, Columbus, 5.7 percent alcohol. “I love Scottish ale, which is barrel-aged, more malt-forward beer that brings sweetness out of the malt. It’s a nice break from very light or very heavy, it’s an in-between beer that’s very drinkable.”

8. Midnight Vorlauf Coffee Porter from Market Garden Brewery, Cleveland, 6.5 percent alcohol. “This is similar to Canton Brewing Company’s Carpe Noctum. Carmelized roasted malt with a strong coffee finish. Market Garden started the trend in Ohio City. Their head brewer came from Dogfish Head.”

9. Conway’s Irish Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland, 6.5 percent alcohol. “This is one of my favorites from Great Lakes. It’s a hybrid between pale ale and a Scottish ale, with malty sweetness but also showcasing the hops. It’s a big seller but nothing compares to Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which is insane.”

10. Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues Brewery, Breward, N.C., 10.5 percent alcohol. “I had to put a stout on the list. This is a beer on steroids. They roast these malts to intensify the flavor, and it provides coffee and toffee flavors. It’s a year-round beer.”

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