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Dave Hoops column: Favorite beer styles from longtime brewer

This week, as we head into fall and inevitably winter, I’m going to touch on some classic and newer beer styles that I’ve been a fan of and a brewer of over the years.

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Hello, everyone. For the last many years enjoying writing over 150 articles for you folks, I realized I’ve never done a complete list of my very own favorite beer styles.

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Dave Hoops

This week, as we head into fall and inevitably winter, I’m going to touch on some classic and newer beer styles that I’ve been a fan of and a brewer of over the years.

There are currently 121 official beer styles recognized by the Brewers Association, our professional governing and steerage body.

I’m fortunate to have worked as a beer judge for them for the last 15 years between the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, the premier beer competitions in the world. During the judging contests, I certainly realized I preferred certain styles of beers more than others.

So without further ado, my favorites, in no particular order:

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Hefeweizen

Hefeweizen is my go-to year-round beer. The banana and clove notes really work well with the slightly spicy flavors provided by the wheat in this beer.

German lagers

A beer being pulled.
Ingrid Johnson pulls a pint of Hoops Munich lager July 26. International Beer Day is celebrated on the first Friday of every August.
Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune

My other choices are classic German lagers like pilsner and export lager. These clear golden lagers are crisp and clean tasting with a floral aftertaste that lingers quite pleasantly on the palate.

Classic pale ale

My third-favorite beer style is the classic pale ale invented in the UK in the 1800s and perfected here in America on the West Coast. Lighter in body and hops then the very popular IPA that many folks enjoy. This approachable 5%-6.2% beer is easy to drink, dry finishing and refreshing.

British-style beers

My next go-to styles are classic British-style beers that include Brown Ale, Porter and Stout. All slightly sweeter lower hopped ales that run the gamut from cocoa to toffee, to coffee notes. These beers are all excellent with food and inspired the population in the UK for centuries.

Fruit beers

T07.24.2017 -- Steve Kuchera -- 072617.F.DNT.AllPintsNorthC2 -- Ryan Woodfill fills a glass with a strawberry beer at Canal Park Brewing. He’ll be pouring the beer at All Pints North. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com
Ryan Woodfill fills a glass with a strawberry beer at Canal Park Brewing.
Steve Kuchera / 2017 file / Duluth News Tribune

Next up are the fruit beers. Brewed in Belgium since the 1600s, these beers incorporate local fruits in a typically lighter-bodied ale that highlights the fruit. Cherries, raspberries, apples, chili peppers and blueberries are some of the popular fruits used.

Rauchbier

One of my favorite and little-known styles is called Rauchbier, which translates to “smoke beer.” These beers go through a process of the malts being smoked over an open fire and the flavors imparted are quite strong and very unique. Hard to find in America, but I highly recommend searching them out at some of our better-stocked local outlets.

The landscape of the brewing industry has changed and evolved very quickly in the last 10 years: new beers, new trends and a much more educated beer drinking patron.

Siason

Another gem I would recommend is called siason. This wheat-based beer was brewed at farmhouses in Belgium with local ingredients like coriander, orange peel and grains of paradise in the fall, then aged throughout winter for springtime enjoyment.

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Lambic

The last beer is called lambic. This is a traditional sour ale that is often brewed with wild yeast and aged for three years, then blended with one year old sour ale and then fruit.

It's not to be confused with the popular kettle sours brewed today as they go through an overnight souring process as opposed to the very long souring and aging process of the lambic beers. These beers highlight deep character and often woody, or earthy flavors and a very tart and acidic finish. Brewed mostly in Belgium these beers are highly prized by beer lovers all over the world.

I hope that some of these “biased” choices of mine make it into your refrigerators. Please let me know if any make your favorite list.

Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Write to him at  dave@hoopsbrewing.com .

MORE BY DAVE HOOPS
We are lucky and fortunate to live here and enjoy the hard work of the women and men that show up every day. There has never been a better time to enjoy very high-level crafted offerings than now.

Related Topics: DULUTHBREWERIESCRAFT BEER
Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge.
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