tampabay.com

The best 6 beers you'll never drink

By Joey Redner
Published August 31, 2007


Beer always has been the people's drink. It's accessible, approachable and plentiful. You can get a beer almost anywhere, but, that doesn't mean all beers are easily available. Anyone who's ever tried to order a New Belgium Fat Tire Ale east of the Mississippi can attest to that.

But, increasingly, craft brewers are releasing beers so limited as to be virtually unavailable. They do this for a number of reasons. The foremost is the general public doesn't want them. Limited release beers are seldom easy-drinking brown ales or inoffensive blond ales. They are typically obscure styles such as Flanders Red, Imperial Stout or Baltic Porter.

The market for these styles is not large, but it is a fiercely loyal and experimental clientele. Also, making these beers can be expensive. As the quality of ingredients increases so does the price, shrinking the potential market.

If you fancy yourself a beer hunter, this list must be considered among the rarest game in the world:

Southampton Berliner Weisse: This is proof that beer doesn't have to be big in alcohol to be big on flavor. At 2 percent alcohol by volume this sour wheat beer packs loads of tart green apple and dry funky grain notes. This very limited release appeared at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival and at least one other event.

Cantillon Blabaer Lambik: A blueberry lambic made in Belgium by one of the world's last traditional lambic makers. It was brewed exclusively for the Olbutikken beer shop in Copenhagen, Denmark. Feel free to bring me back a bottle if you're heading over there.

Narke Kaggen Stormaktsporter: Imperial stout brewed with heather honey and aged in oak barrels. A very limited number of approximately 6-ounce bottles were produced for a few of Europe's most elite beer bars. Kaggen Stormaktsporter mixes notes of oak, chocolate liqueur, vanilla and port to make a truly unique sipping experience.

Mikkeller X Imperial Stout: Another imperial stout, X uses eleven different malts, but avoids become muddied and unfocused like many experimental beers featuring different malts. Very few bottles of the 2006 version were made and fewer still remain unconsumed.

McKenzie Raven Baltic Porter: A Baltic porter-style beer brewed by the former head brewer of McKenzie, Scott Morrison. This beer featured pumpernickel, raisin and dark-chocolate notes in abundance. Scott is no longer with McKenzie, so this beer may never be available again.

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine: This barley wine ages in, you guessed it, bourbon barrels. It features massive notes of caramel, vanilla, toffee and dark fruits highlighted by plums and cherries. Kuhnhenn is known for brewing small batches of big beers that seldom make it out of the Warren, Mich., area.

- Joey Redner is a Tampa resident and world beer traveler.