The Best and Worst Beers

Men like beer. Most of us do, anyway. It’s cold and refreshing, and it brings a nice buzz to boot. What’s not to like? All too often, people view beer as a low-brow sort of beverage or a weak, watery drink that lends itself to chugging, but there are lots of different types of beer and lots of different tastes.

The Best

Westvleteren

According to some beer aficionados, the ‘best beer’ list starts and ends with the Trappist brewers. Chimay is probably the most famous representative, but which one is best is purely a matter of personal preference. Westvleteren, however, stand out for its rarity. These fellows are ‘monks first and brewers second,’ so they only sell as much ale as is absolutely necessary to keep their monastery solvent. It’s only sold at two places in the entire world, and the monks are against any sort of commercial resale. Customers must reserve a case in advance and drive to the Belgian brewery to pick it up. Demand is so high that a single bottle sells on EBay for 20 to 30 dollars!

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

No one does Oktoberfest like the Germans. It’s a special brew called Marzen, meaning March, or the month when it is traditionally brewed. In Munich, this is serious business, but Sam makes one of the best American versions. It’s a little bit lighter and a little bit dryer than many of the traditional European brews. It’s only available for a short part of the year, so be sure to grab some if you see it.

Yuengling

For some readers, this stuff is a staple. It’s cheaper than the ‘big three,’ and it’s also much tastier. For the rest of the country, it’s an exotic beer that is far, far better than its modest price tag. The lager is their most popular, but they also sell a bottom-fermented Porter and a Black-and-Tan, which is a mix of the two. Yum.

Unibroue

This Quebec brewery specializes in ‘Belgian style’ ales. This basically means that they’re inspired by Trappist recipes, but they don’t come from an actual Trappist monastery. Still, they make a respectable facsimile. La Fin du Monde and Maudite are the most readily available types in most areas, but be ready for a stout, heavy brew if you order these. For the lighter palate, Ephemere is a fruit beer that’s available in a variety of flavors. Many of their ales are rather strong too, up to 10% ABV or more, so drink them responsibly.

The Worst

Steel Reserve

This ‘high gravity lager’ tastes like moldy socks, with a crisp aluminum flavor and an aroma that’s reminiscent of skunk spray. It’s certainly not something to pour into a schooner glass and savor over a plate of fine cheese and tapas. With all that going for it, it’s a serious contender for the ‘worst beer’ award. Drinkability is low, yet it can be found in convenience stores everywhere. That’s because of Steel reserve’s main selling point – an 8.1 ABV. Combine that with its shamefully low price, and you’ve got a true budget buzz. If you’re really trying that hard to stretch every dollar, and who isn’t these days, just get a bottle of cheap vodka.

Michelob Ultra Pomegranate Raspberry

Almost every word in that name is just wrong. Michelob actually deserves some credit for its efforts at Porter, Rye PA, Hefeweizen and Dunkelweiss; in a pinch, one of their sampler packs can make for a great time. With Michelob Ultra, however, they took the already bad ‘near beer’ idea and made it even lamer. Regular Ultra is bad enough; it tastes like they gathered up a bunch of almost-empty bottles, refilled them the rest of the way with water, recapped them and sold them again. Now they add not one, but two fruits to it? If you order this, it had better be for your girlfriend.