There’s plenty of fine craft beer to be had from beyond our shores.
For the latest round of our National Retailer Beer Panel Reviews, we asked our panelists to taste imported beers. Here are 16 foreign brews they sipped and graded for your consideration:
(97) St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (Montreal, QC, Canada). The aroma and quickly dissipating head suggest a higher ABV than its actual 5%. Coats the mouth with a caramel butterscotch, coffee aftertaste. Very balanced sweetness/bitterness with 45 IBUs. Really captured the essence of a barrel-aged stout without the overpowering alcohol. A good nightcap after a long day.
(95) Magners Pear Cider (Blumers, Ireland). 4.5% ABV. Clear with a slight golden tone, this cider looks a lot like a sparkling wine when poured. A sweet, pronounced pear flavor that finishes dryer than a traditional apple cider. This little piece of Ireland will have you feeling right at home in your local tap room.
(95) DAB Dortmunder (Dortmund,Germany). 5% ABV. A low floral hop aroma with a hint of sulfur that balances the nose. Clear as can be, with a medium golden color and a clean white head that dissipates rather quickly. A wonderful balance of flowery hop flavor and malty sweetness married together with a slight mineral taste and a clean lasting understated hop bitterness. Overall, a clean, crisp, medium-bodied German lager at a great price that seems to offer a little more flavor than your usual mass-market brew.
(93) Newcastle Brown Ale (Newcastle, England). 4.7% ABV. A wonderful bouquet of caramel nuttiness and herbal English hop aromas. Perfect clarity and a wonderful garnet-brown color with an off-white head that lingers slightly. Caramel and toffee notes dominate up front with very low hop flavor and bitterness and finishes dry with light, lingering chocolate notes. A quintessential brown ale and session beer that is easy drinking and full of flavor.
(93) My Blueberry Nightmare (Birrificio del Ducato, Italy). 9.4% ABV. It starts life as Verdi Imperial Stout, a stout that is brewed with chilies. It’s then put into oak barrels with blueberries for two years. This is batch number four. There are big differences between batches. One of the most intense beers you will ever drink. Very acidic and tart, this batch has a nice smokiness that rounds it out nicely.
(92) Unibroue La Fin Du Monde (Quebec, Canada). 9% ABV, 19 IBUs. La Fin Du Monde is one of the greatest interpretations of a Belgian tripel style ale brewed outside of Europe. The beer pours a dark golden color with a massive fluffy white head. Big funky Belgian yeast and spice on the nose. La Fin Du Monde is a very approachable big beer. Sweet, fruity and spicy. Clove is apparent on the tongue, finishing dry with a slight hint of alcohol. A perfect beer to recommend to the person looking to expand their brew universe.
(92) Magic #4:21 (Omnipollo, Stockholm, Sweden). 6% ABV. A raspberry smoothie IPA that pours a bright pink with a medium white head. Lots of sweet fruit aromas, tart raspberry sweetness with a slight hop bitterness.
(91) Negra Modelo (Mexico/Austria). 5.4% ABV. A Vienna lager with a wonderful toasty and malty aroma, very clear appearance with amber reddish hues, and a white head lingers. Like the aroma, an amazing toasty, malt-forward flavor dominates, but plays well with a low hop flavor and bitterness. A smooth creamy medium body. All around a great malty toasty beer that pairs well with a number of Mexican dishes.
(91) Rodenbach Flanders Red (Roeselare, Belgium). 5.2% ABV, 15-20 IBUs. Rodenbach pours a very dark amber, almost-brown color. The nose is tart and very funky. First sip is sour and refreshing, with hints of red fruit. Rodenbach is an almost wine-like ale with sourness reminiscent of vinegar, and a very dry tannic finish. With the exploding popularity of wild and sour ales, this Flanders Red is the perfect introduction to this trend.
(89) Moosehead Lager (New Brunswick, Canada). 5% ABV, 13 IBUs. A light, crisp lager that is clear and golden in color with minimal head. Slightly hoppy lager that goes down easy. It’s perfect whether you’re watching hockey or football. Comparable to most domestic beers, with a more flavorful palate.
(87) Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale (Yorkshire, England). 5% ABV, 31 IBUs. Big toasty malt aroma. This beer pours a light brown, leaving a little white head. Toasty and nutty malt on the palate. This brew reminds one of freshly baked pumpernickel bread. Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale has almost no bitterness, with a slightly sweet dry finish. Definitely one of England’s finest brown ales.
(87) Hitachino Extra High XH (Kiuchi Brewery, Kapan). 8% ABV 44 IBUs. A Belgian-style strong ale aged for three months in sake casks. Pours a dark amber color with a thin white head. A little boozy sweetness is provided by the time in the sake casks.
(85) Schofferhofer Grapefruit (Binding-Brauerei AG, Germany). 2.5 % ABV. Pronounced Chauffeur + ah + The Hoff + ah! The beer pours as a cloudy and golden color with slight head. As a 50/50 split of hefeweizen and grapefruit juice. The wheat beer half counteracts the bitterness of the grapefruit juice, while the grapefruit half adds in carbonation. With a very low ABV, it’s a great summer day (or recovery) beer.
(85) Reissdorf Kolsch (Koln, Germany). 4.8% ABV, 21 IBUs. Pours a golden straw color with a quickly disappearing white head. On first sniff, Reissdorf gives off a pleasant, sweet malty and yeasty aroma. This refreshing Kolsch is crisp and fruity, very malt forward with almost no hop bitterness.
(85) Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (Bedford, UK). Not as sweet as the name would suggest; only a slight chocolate taste towards the end of the sip to balance the bitterness. Mouthfeel lighter than expected from the jet-black appearance. Alcohol is almost undetectable at 5.2% ABV. I would consider this a good entry-level stout for those who want something new. BD
(83) Sticke Alt (Les Trois Mousquetaires, Canada). 6% ABV, 74 IBUs. An altbier. It is a stronger, hoppier version of the traditional German beer found in Dusseldorf. Pours a mahogany color with little to no head. Aromas of sweet biscuit and caramel. A very malt driven beer, lots of butterscotch sweetness.
If you’re a retail or off-premise professional who would like to learn more about participating in our panel, please contact Kyle Swartz at (203) 855- 8499 ext. 225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.