After my Stone Brewery tour and conversion last December, I've sworn off corporate watered down swill and have tried throughout the Winter and Spring, to sample non-corporate, non-mass produced, true Craft beers made of better quality, with better ingredients, by people who love to make beer rather than just by a cooperation who is trying to increase share-holder wealth. Some Southern California grocery stores have wider selections than others, but very few carry the Stouts and Porters that I have figured out I like the best. There's a preponderance of hoppy IPAs, and a mad arms race to see who can concoct the most bitter, overwhelmingly hops-y beverages possible. But since I am not a masochist, and I prefer to enjoy my beer, I'll leave those bitter glasses to others who like them.
This posting is a summary of affordable craft beers that are drinkable, but not my favorite Some are not trying to be a Porter or Stout, and so they fall far off the spectrum of what I'd find delicious. Others are trying to be their own version of "Awesome!" and perhaps, for someone who likes an IPA or other varieties, they might be enjoyed. Regardless, they're made by smaller breweries who are trying their hands at craft beer, and for that aspect alone, I applaud them.
Misssissippi Mud, Famous Black and Tan, Porter & Pilsner Beer, Mississippi Mud Brewing Company, Utica NY (New York? sure…). 1 quart "jug". Found at Trader Joe's for less than $5 a jug. While this was by far the most interesting bottle in shape and size, it did not live up to my expectation of an awesome porter. Perhaps it was too much of a pilsner, and if you like pilasters, that's fine. It was good, and drinkable, and for the price, not bad.
KBC Porter - Kennebunkport Brewing Company. Portland Maine. I think I bought this one at Ralph's (a California version of Fry's / Kroger / Bi-Lo) for $5 or $6. It was OK, and smooth. It falls short of the Stone Smoked Porter or a Shipyard Pugsley masterpiece, but it was not bad. Traveling all the way from Portland to Orange County put a rather large carbon foot print on this little bottle.
Hangar 24 Alt Bier Ale, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Redlands CA. "Carmel, Toasty, and Clean" the back label said, so I bought it. I like Hangar 24 beers, they're fine quality, local, good beers. But I am not much of an Ale fan. Perhaps the years of drinking Little Kings creme ale in college have ruined my pallet for Ales for the rest of my life… and now only Porters and Stouts will do? I don't know. There was a hint of carmel in this bottle, but it was less than I hoped for. Good and drinkable, please do not mis-interpret my personal preference as any negativity towards Hangar 24.
Rogue Mom Hefeweizen, Ale Brewed with Rose Petals, Rogue Ales Newport Oregon. Rogue is another fine west coast brewery who makes a fine product. I used to drink Franszaskanner Hefeweizen before they were corporately bought out, so I tried this bottle to see how good it might be. It was fine for a Hefeweizen. It was nice to see that Rogue states clearly on their label that no chemicals, preservatives or additives are included in their beer. And the "6 ingredients" were simply "Wheat & 2-Row Pale Malt; Sterling Hops; Oregon Rose Petals; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast". Nice and SImple.
ACE Perry Hard Cider, California Cider Company, Sonoma County. Found at Trader Joe's for < $4 a bottle. Well, if you're a cider fan, you might like this. I'm not a cider fan, so I didn't. Dr Desert Flower is a cider fan, but she winced at her first sip from this very pear-heavy bottle. I tried to enjoy a cider... oh well.
Nero's 1st Century Double Dark Malt Ale, Imported Italian Craft Ale, 500ml, Birra Amarcord SA, Rimini Brewery, Apecchio Italy. Trader Joe's was selling this for < $5 a bottle, and I thought "why not?" It was OK. It was not very dark, but it was all right.
"The Beast Grand Cru Ale" Avery Brewing Co, Boulder Colorado, "The Demons of Ale". The back label stated "Ale with Raisins, Dates, Molasses and Honey". I found it at WholePayCheck, $6 for a 12 ounce bottle. It was definitely a complex Ale, with lots of flavors. Very sweet. It was good. Too sweet for my tastes. Avery is a highly regarded brewery, and makes a quality product. I cannot say anything bad about this beer. It had a great deal going on within it.
Maudite Amber Red Ale On Lees, Unibroue Brewery, Chambly Quebec Canada. Maudite (Damned) was a good red ale. It's not a bad beer. Unibroue is a good brewery, and their "End of the World" (La Fin du Monde) is a fine beverage. The Maudite I found was from WholePayCheck and ~$6 a bottle. I'll stick with the La Fin du Monde in the future.
Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing Co, Denver Colorado. An Imperial Stout! My expectations were unrealistically high. I also drank it on a Friday evening when I was already somewhat sleepy - Friday evenings, having gotten up Monday-Friday at 4am, are typically 5-hour-Energy or coffee or espresso fueled, so that I can try to stay awake and spend quality time with Dr Desert Flower. Had my expectations been lower, this would have been an awesome stout. It was good. It was Not bad. I enjoyed it. I just had hoped it would be more like a Shipyard or a Stone Imperial Stout. I will drink a bottle of this again if given a chance, and I highly recommend you try it if you enjoy stouts.