Pushing the boundaries of beer

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First Posted: 3/3/2015

Pumpkin Peach Ale was all the rage for mockery thanks to Budweiser’s commercial campaign during this year’s Super Bowl. However, if they think that is the most outrageous craft beer currently available then they truly do not understand craft beer.

The growing craft beer market gave rise to some unique flavor combinations in a wide variety of beers. Some of these combinations were met with huge success others with utter disgust. One thing is certain though, craft brewers are not afraid to push the boundaries of what is considered beer.

Here is a short list of some craft brews that push the envelope for what some drinkers may consider beer:

1. Rogue Ales, Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale: Rogue has brewed a few collaboration beers with Portland staple VooDoo Doughnut with mixed results. This one however is a delicious mixture of sweetness and a touch of salt. The sweet chocolate and raspberry is present with a backing of subtle salted pretzel balanced in roasted malts for a unique, but drinkable flavor.

2. Clown Shoes, Pecan Pie Porter: Clown Shoes is a brewery with a unique name and a number of unique beers in their portfolio. Their fall seasonal release Pecan Pie Porter is one of the best. The rich notes of pecans are present in the aroma and taste with a wonderfully sweet malt bill. This is a beer that is an absolute must have during the fall season but is also quite enjoyable throughout the year.

3. Flying Dog, Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout: Oysters and stouts have a long rich tradition for making a wonderful pairing so it seems only natural to put them into the beer itself. Rappahannock River oysters from the region are used and add a subtle, salty flavor to the beer. This stout is richly flavored due to additions of roasted barley and chocolate rye malts, with notes of chocolate and coffee. Originally released as a limited edition beer in 2011, it’s now available year-round. Also, proceeds from the sale of this beer benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership of the Chesapeake Bay.

4. Funky Buddha Brewery: This beer is far more delicious then is sounds and it truly is breakfast in a glass. Notes of maple syrup and coffee are present throughout with backing notes of chocolate and bacon. This is a beer that truly nails down the style the brewery was aiming for and brewed a beer that is salty sweet and perfect to pair with a wide variety of foods.

5. Pizza Beer Company, Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer: Mostly known for being a novelty beer, it certainly gets points for being just as advertised. This is a beer that smells and tastes just like pizza. Americans love the pizza and beer combination but don’t seem to love the pizza-beer crossover. However, if you have a friend who loves pizza and beer more than anything they just may go for this one.

6. Stone Brewing Co., Smoked Porter With Chocolate & Orange Peel: Stone has been brewing their smoked porter for a number of years and have also brewed it with an array of different ingredients. The combination with chocolate and hints of orange, though, has to be the most unique. The notes of smoke from the malt and subdued by the sweet chocolate and the wonderful citrus notes from the orange round out the experience. A wonderful beer to have on hand for dessert.

While many macro drinkers may see craft beer enthusiasts, or on the fringe of society, at least according to Budweiser, many can stand proud by such strange beers and fuss over them all we want. Maybe some craft brews are strange to some, but at least brewers are willing to take a risk instead of brewing the same ol’ beer day after day.