20 Great Beers We Take for Granted

by Billy Broas

Shelf full of beerDon’t forget the familiar faces (Photo: .schill)

Admit it….you’re guilty.

I know I am.

You scour the beer aisles looking for the next bright shiny object. A limited release whiskey barrel aged imperial stout. A collaborative barley wine from 5 different breweries. A Rauchbier made from the smoke of the Icelandic volcano.

With the craft beer market exploding, it’s easy to become distracted as brewers fight to keep our attention with these whimsical brews.

But let’s not forget the great beers that are right under our noses. These year-round brews are often overshadowed by the hyped-up extreme offerings. You always see them on the shelf, but by now you don’t even notice them. They’ve become part of the background as your eyes dart to something new.

Let’s recognize some of these dependable¬†soldiers. Here are 20 great beers that we take for granted:

  1. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA – Available year round and one of the top Double IPA’s ever made, but often overshadowed by the limited release DIPAs.
  2. Deschutes Black Butte Porter – Drink this beer and try to think of a better porter.
  3. Chimay – Their white, blue, and red bottles are Belgian staples in bottle shops.
  4. Green Flash IPA – A whiff of its perfume will send your mind to a hop field on the west coast.
  5. Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale – Brown ales are under appreciated anyways. This is one of the best.
  6. Stone Pale Ale – What!? Stone makes a “normal” beer? Yes, and it’s delicious.
  7. Sierra Nevada Torpedo – A big IPA from a brewery that pays the utmost attention to quality.
  8. Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout – Doesn’t receive the attention of its bigger brother the Expedition Stout, but I’d call this the better of the two.
  9. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout- Best. Oatmeal. Stout. Ever.
  10. Left Hand Milk Stout – Not a hugely popular style here in the States but it’s hard to find a smoother stout.
  11. Victory Prima Pils – Poor Pilsners. They have a tough time getting attention, but Prima beats the pants of many of the bigger beers produced.
  12. Saison DuPont – Saisons are going through a revival with almost every brewery putting one out, but the classic Saison DuPont is holding strong.
  13. Dale’s Pale Ale – The beer that should be in everyone’s refrigerator, at all times.
  14. Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen – Produced by the oldest brewery in the world and the gold standard for Hefeweizens.
  15. Fuller’s ESB – A mouthfeel that is simply unmatched.
  16. Rogue Dead Guy Ale – Rogue hasn’t impressed me in a while but this will always be a solid maibock.
  17. Sam Adams Boston Lager – When the bar you visit just doesn’t “get it” with beer, you can always count on Sammy A.
  18. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – The classic American pale ale is hard to top.
  19. Hoegaarden – A Witbier that converts many to craft beer and still satisfies aficionados.

I’ll leave #20 to the readers. What beer do you think should take the final spot?



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{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

bill December 20, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I would add two to the list that are standbys that I always pass over:

Guinness and Big Sky’s Moose drool

Oddly enough, I was just thinking of that this afternoon and bought a sixer of moose droll for the first time in months… very glad I did!

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Shaman August 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Man, I would agree about the Moose Drool. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t like most roasted barley beers. Such great carbonation, great mouthfeel, everything. A real pleasant surprise. Glad I am not the only guy out there who pays it any attention :)

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Jordan July 1, 2013 at 1:23 am

Honestly, I prefer Iron Horse’s Irish Death, or even their Mocha Death, over Guinness. It’s a Seattle brewery, but I’m not sure how far outward it’s shipped. I don’t suggest getting it bottled though; on tap is much tastier.

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Pat Fondiller December 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Smuttynose IPA, Od Brown Dog, Robust Porter…

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Roscoe December 27, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Tuckerman’s Pale Ale (NH), that and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are my favorite microbrew standbys! Although I’ve tried Troeg’s Pale Ale from PA and think I’d be stocking that if it were on our shelves up here… I am also found of Pig’s Ear brown ale from Woodstock Inn Brewery (NH).

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Ed January 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I’d definitely include Anchor Steam, the granddaddy of craft brews, IMHO…

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Lorenzo January 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Can one take a beer “for granted” that’s only been on the market a few years? Some of these don’t seem to have been around long enough to qualify–they’re STILL a novelty to me. I’d limit the list to those that have been around for 15, 20 years or more. Back when I started homebrewing, Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams were novelties, and I can finally say that I have been taking those beers for granted for some time now.

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Morgan Asbury January 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Fullers London Pride!! Hands down, one of the best!

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Vanilla Gorilla January 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Great list and I agree with Morgan Asbury Fullers London Prode is a good beer.

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Brady February 24, 2011 at 11:56 am

Phew, great post and great comments.

I agree that Sierra Nevada and Anchor are under-appreciated (although, I’m sure they do quite well, haha). Gotta respect ‘em. My favorite additions to the list have to be Weihenstephaner Heff, Victory Pils, and Stone Pale Ale, as they are pretty much the peak of their styles, IMO (with props to Sierra Nevada Pale). As far as beers that I love but often pass over because I see them everywhere…

- Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
- Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
- Allagash White (everywhere in New England, beats the pants of any witbier I’ve ever had)
- Rogue Chocolate Stout (delicious and extremely accessible to non-beer lovers, too)
- Bell’s Two Hearted (mentioned a few times already, but damn this is a great and unique beer)

Fantastic site, man. Keep up the good work!

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Billy Broas February 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Thanks for the compliments and the comment Brady. Unibroue – that is one I certainly take for granted. I don’t know what it is about them, but I always look at their bottles and pass despite knowing it’s great beer. Good pick!

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Nelson Steelberg March 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Great list. I would add the following
Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
Spaten Ur-Marzen
“Czechvar” -

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Billy Broas March 18, 2011 at 11:23 am

“Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock” – Great pick Nelson. My favorite doppelbock and definitely taken for granted.

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JG April 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

Guiness Extras Stout, my friend. Guiness Extra Stout

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Tom Bedell April 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Good choice, but learn to spell it correctly, for Guinness, sake!

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BulldogBen May 4, 2011 at 9:42 am

+1 on the Ayinger Doppelbock, Weihenstephaner, and Allagash.

Actually Weihenstephaner and Ayinger should own this. Even though they’re not available in every store, they’ve been doing it (and have perfected it) over hundreds of years.

I actually prefer the Ayinger Brau-Weisse to Weihenstephaners Hefe.

For me here in the South, I’d have to go with Sweetwater 420. It’s been widely available for years (even in grocery stores) and it’s easily taken for granted. Just a great little APA and good on a cold or hot night. It’s the South’s version of Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. Always have a couple in the fridge as backup.

Just one guys opinion though.

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Billy Broas May 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Good suggestions. I love both the Weihenstephaner and Ayinger beers. Will have to put them head to head to find a victor.

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Mathias Kietzmann June 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Definitely the Rodenbach Grand Cru.

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Bartending School in Inland Empire July 13, 2011 at 5:30 am

20 great, widely available beers we tend to forget about. Great suggestions in the comments too.

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Benjamin Gelem April 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Duchesse de Bourgeone

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Todd Gullian December 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Love Chimey, but my number 20 would be Erdingers Hefe or St. Bernardus.

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Jim January 2, 2013 at 6:36 am

Wow…..I have 12 of those beers at home right now, but being a Belgian guy, I’d have to put Ommegang Abbey in there!

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Joshua January 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter > Deschutes Black Butte Porter

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Dustin January 5, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Fat Tire. Like Boston Lager, it’s a go to when you visit a restaurant that doesn’t offer much other choice.

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mike January 6, 2013 at 10:13 am

man ..you need to get out more..try them all.. one might suprise you…come on dales pale ale lol

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Besserwisserl February 16, 2013 at 12:11 am

If you’re going to include Weihenstephan in your list you must also include the oft overlooked and possibly much older Weltenburger Klosterbraueri. Their Dunkel is, in my opinion, one of the best exemplars of the style. Unfortunately, it can be hard to come by…

Prost.

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Chris March 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Speaking from a British perspective, Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier is available everywhere but surprisingly delicious.

Don’t know if Americans get Timothy Taylor’s Landlord or Worthington’s White Shield, but they’re both examples of beers that are very widely available but still trump almost anything else. And yes, White Shield is made by Coors. Coors make one of the best beers in the world!

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Peter B March 13, 2013 at 11:07 am

Not sure if they have them in CO yet, but La Cumbre Brewing Company in Albuquerque, NM has an “Elevated IPA” which won the 2011 GABF Gold, and I do say it is a MUST for all camping trips (since it comes in a can, this is popular for camping).

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Elaine March 26, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge

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Hillbillyjones April 27, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Torpedo got me liking craft brews and a few hangovers before I realized the abv difference. Kroger in my parts has a good selection withTorpedo, Dogfish Head 90, Stone Pale Ale, Samual Smith Oatmeal Stout, Rouges Dead Guy Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Hoegarden and Sam Adams. Pick 6 for $10 works good for that.

I got a Stone Pale Ale and it was excellent! But the Fuller’s ESB, wow!

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Ryan Heitsgebot May 13, 2013 at 8:54 am

Fun list. I was surprised to see that it overlooked Pilsner Urquell.

Sl√°inte.

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Philip June 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Sculpin IPA ranks as one of the most delicious and well-behaved IPA’s I’ve ever had. It’s just freakin’ hard to get here in the Northeast.

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Zeb Daniel June 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Agree with Dusting, #20 Fat Tire amber ale… need justification be made for a go-to amber ale?

Also, Widmer’s Drifter is the best pale in the far west, swamps the competition, although I’ve never had a Dale’s.

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Billy Broas June 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm

You must try Dale’s. Don’t think I’ve ever had Drifter. I’ll look for it, thanks.

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Curt September 18, 2013 at 8:02 am

We have a good local brew here on Long Island called Blue Point Toasted Lager. Simply yummy on tap or from the 6-pack.

http://bluepointbrewing.com/bpbc/microbrews/toasted-lager/

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Chad April 23, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Widmer brothers hefeweizen. I would at least put this in my beer top 3. Maybe number one?

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Billy Broas April 26, 2014 at 9:40 am

Great choice!

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Larry May 2, 2014 at 11:03 am

Great Divide DPA. Probably my all time favorite sessionable(ish) beer.

Firestone Walker Union Jack and DBA.

Great call on Deschutes Black Butte Porter, on of my favorite porters.

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